Manners Activities For Preschoolers

Manners Activities For Preschoolers

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Isn’t it funny how younger children absorb information like sponges and repeat everything you say and do (usually at the wrong time?)…

Because of this, manners need to be shown, taught and enforced on a daily basis.

I myself was sent to etiquette school during my early teenage years, and it is very average for parents to continue to send kids off to “charm” school.

However, it is important to remember those good manners go beyond using the correct fork during dinner time but focus more so on the awareness of surroundings.

Teaching kids that their behavior can affect others is teaching them about their manners. Here are some great preschool activities to help you teach the basic skills of proper etiquette and manners.

Why Teach Kids Manners

The sooner you start to teach your children manners, the sooner they will start using them, even if you’re not around. They will learn how to use their manners from you, so it is important that you are modelling the good behavior that you want to see from them.

A significant factor in teaching manners successfully is making sure that the manners you teach are age-appropriate. You can’t expect a 2-year-old to say, thank you for the meal, may I please be excused from the table? But you can expect a “thank you” and possibly take their plate back into the kitchen before going off to play.

Also a 2-year-old will have a much harder time looking someone in the eye when speaking to them, whereas a 5-year-old should have no trouble looking at the person they are speaking to.

Songs And Stories To Teach Preschoolers Manners

Here are some fun activities, songs and stories which can help your child learn to use proper manners and work on their communication skills at an early age.

The Manners Song

Manners Games

Manners Poems

monster manners game

Manners Videos

Manners Picture Books

Art Activities Like these

Good Manners Box Activity

Holiday Meal Manner Game

Patience Printable

Manners word search puzzle worksheet

Rock Painting

good manners activity sheets

Table Setting Craft

Printable Board Game

pretend play Manners

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food Book

No, David! Book

Yes Please Thank You

Fables by Arnold Lobel 

Basic Manners Your Children Should Know

Table Manners

You should teach your child good table manners starting in early childhood. By the end of toddlerhood (age 3) your child should be able to sit at the table for 20-30 minutes and eat a meal. Discourage food throwing and encourage sitting nicely facing the table and wiping their mouths when finished eating as part of common kids table manners.

You can also encourage the use of utensils starting at age 2.5 and prompting your child to say please and thank you when asking for extra water or more food during mealtime. These are important to learn early and will help with good restaurant manners in the long run.

For older children, the table manner expectation is that they stick around at the table until everyone has finished eating. It is also polite to try to eat everything off of their plate before putting the plate away in the kitchen. When my children correctly behave after a meal, I always reward them with some sort of after-dinner treat such as a popsicle or maybe even some video game time.

Apologizing

Young kids are usually able to apologize from the time they are able to speak, however, it is difficult to expect them to understand their apology until they are about 3 years old.

Try to prompt an apology every time you see someone has hurt feelings, especially if they were caused by the child whom you want to learn how to apologize.

Gently saying “wow, Tommy looks really hurt. When we hurt someone, we need to say I’m sorry”. You can explain the meaning of the apology in the privacy of your own home at a later time if needed. Sometimes it takes a little while for kids to pick up on feelings of empathy so the concept could be harder to grasp right away.

Sharing

Imagine the children are playing together and each child wants the same toy. The best way to approach this sharing situation is to allow your child to finish playing with their toy and THEN share it with a friend.

When you allow your young children to make this decision to share you are teaching them positive assertiveness which in turn teaches confidence and raises self-esteem.

Tips for Teaching Your Child Manners

1. Good manners come from good habits.

It takes time to form good habits and it can take time to form good manners. They say it takes someone 66 days in a row to form a constant habit. That’s a lot of repetition!

2. Consistency is important.

When teaching manners, it is important to constantly teach the same lessons until they are learned. It’s not a good idea to look the other way on manners one day and be on them like “white on rice” at other times.

3. Learning manners is never-ending.

Manners cannot be generally taught overnight. A lot of times, manners are taught throughout the years in different situations.

Even as adults, we learn different ways to interact with different kinds of people, meaning we are developing the way we use our manners.

4. Nice behavior will help form friendships.

Ill-mannered children are at a huge disadvantage. Children are not likely to be upset with a playmate for not using their manners, however parents could be turned off by the child who is not using their manners around their own child.

It can be difficult to keep friends with a child who doesn’t use their manners and you wouldn’t want your child to pick up any extra bad habits along the way.

5. Your behavior Counts.

Remember that everything you say and do gets absorbed by the little people that you are surrounded by. Make sure you are using your manners and your kids will be using theirs without you even having to try and remind them. Be the

You should teach your child good table manners starting in early childhood. By the end of toddlerhood (age 3) your child should be able to sit at the table for 20-30 minutes and eat a meal. Discourage food throwing and encourage sitting nicely facing the table and wiping their mouths when finished eating as part of common kids table manners. Be the positive example and you’ll start to see the desired behavior from your kids.

Manners During Playdates

What a great time to practice manners in a fun way- playdates!

Set your child up for success by making sure they are well-rested and comfortable during their playdate.

It’s a good idea to also remind your child what kind of behavior you expect from them while on a playdate and remind them to say “please” and “thank you”.

If your child has bad manners, simply prompt them to use their manners by suggesting the use of nice words in return for a kind action. an example of this would be “Please thank Mrs. Smith for the juice box”.

When sharing goes wrong, simply step in and acknowledge that the actions that occurred made our friends and ourselves feel bad and we should make them feel better by using polite words such as “I’m sorry”. You’ll have the most polite child at the playground.

Ensure to prompt a ” thank you” at the end of the playdate to remind your child to use their manners when they have a nice time with someone else.

Positive Discipline and Table Manners

Dr. Alan Kazdin of the Yale Parenting Center developed this strategy based on his study. He demonstrates how to utilise positive discipline to change stubborn behaviour.

There is no better location for rebellion than the dinner table, but there are some simple and concrete actions you can take to assist your children learn excellent manners.

  • Keep your vocal tone in mind. Demanding or presuming you won’t get good behaviour yields better results than kindly asking for it.
  • Giving people your kids a choice improves compliance. If you ask, “Would you want to eat with a spoon or fork?” or “Would you like your napkin under your chin or on your lap?” you’ll be more likely to get the behaviour you want (like using utensils or a napkin!)
  • Instead of talking about what you don’t want to see, practise the “positive opposite.” “Don’t chuck your food,” for example, is both negative and essentially non-specific. Discuss what you want to see, such as “I like to watch your food on your fork!”
  • Applaud good behaviour. As soon as you notice the behaviour you want to see more of, express your gratitude with verbal and even physical affirmations. A huge high five or a hug can go a long way toward rewarding good behaviour. Also, be specific about what you witnessed. “Hey, asking your brother to pass the ketchup was really good table manners!” or “I love how you cleared your plate without being asked; give yourself a big high five!”
  • Model the conduct you want to see in others. This cannot be stressed enough! It’s critical that I set the tone and lead by example, demonstrating what I’m after.

Teaching Kids Manners Through Manners Activities

Things like songs, books, activities, games and role playing all are great ways to teach manners lessons in a fun way. If you are trying to teach a specific manner, a great way to do this is through a specific game or book. Teaching able manners should be a daily practice, and the perfect time to do this is at the dinner table every night.

So head out to your local library for some new books about manners, or host a pretend party with stuffed animals to make learning manners fun.

Free Resource For You

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This free pdf can show you:

  • The pillars of gentle parenting
  • Example conversations you can have with kids
  • Example consequences you can use
  • Family activity ideas for connection

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