Teaching manners to small children

Seriously. I have to make a whole different effort to teach my toddler how to talk. Or ask for things. Because clearly, she thinks that volume is the way to go.

We enforce manners in this house. Both kids know what we expect from them when they want something:

Kid: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Kid: May I have a chocolate chip cookie please?
Me: Yes, that is how you ask for a cookie.

With the toddler, volume trumps whenever the mood strikes her:

Sonja: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Me: That is not how you ask for things.

Everything is a crisis with this girl. This is very annoying.

Today on the way home from the library Sonja and I stopped at the local store up the street to pick up some milk. She immediately went to the ice cream section and asked for ice cream. My response was that we had ice cream at home and that she would be able to have some once we got home.

I thought that was the end of it. We paid for the milk, we left the store hand in hand, she chit-chattered away beside me, and we were on our merry little way.

Just as we went around the corner, she suddenly threw herself on the ground and started screaming.




I said no to the carrying part, and reminded her that we had ice cream at home. She didn’t care. She threw one of those rolling-on-the-ground-crying-and-kicking fits while I stood idle. Watching. And waiting.

She turned on her belly, buried her face in her hands, and screamed and cried.

I started walking a little bit.

Bye bye Sonja, I’ll go home now to have some ice cream.

I walked some more. She sat up, stared at me, then continued her tantrum.

I stood idle some more. She was testing me. Would I give in to the ice cream? Would I give in to carrying her? How far would she let me go before coming after me?

Aside note: Unfortunately I couldn’t bring myself to walk too far. The sidewalk we were on was beside a somewhat busy street and since she is unpredictable, I had to keep her safety in mind. If we had been on a path or in a field, I probably would have walked further, found a shady spot, and made myself comfortable sitting down to (out)wait for her. Kind of like what I did here.)

We were waiting each other out. Who would give in first?

Well, I had no place in particular to be, nor was I on any schedule. Benjamin was with his grandparents, and DH at work. I could stand there all day…

She did come eventually. Cried, wanted a hug. THAT I could give her.

We  managed to finally get home, but not without whining and complaining. I asked her:

Why are you so cranky? Where is my happy girl?

She had no answers.

The drama continues…

2 thoughts on “Teaching manners to small children

  1. I have taught mine manner from DAY 1 and even the 4.5 year old still says: GIMME! I always correct them. The 2 year old says NOW a lot and NOOOOOOOWW…and then “please” when he corrects himself. Sometimes I wonder how many times I’ll ahve to say: “How do you ask?” before they actually remember =)

  2. I have been using the statement: “I don’t have the freedom to do that” whenever I am not keen on how my kids ask for stuff.

    Works like a charm.

    It helps (I think at least) that I kept my kids together as opposed to kindergarten when they were young because the younger ones picked up quickly on it by observing the older ones.

    At any case: it takes the whole conversation out of it (why would I want to continuously reward poor behaviour with a conversation?). If they start up a stink (which eventually one will do), I kindly ask them to remove themselves from my presence because they are hurting my ears.

    In the mean time, even the 3 year old will stop crying when I call her attention to it and tell her to stop (no discussions, no conversation, just a simple, definitive request from Mom) which is especially wonderful when we are NOT at home or where there truly is no freedom to tell a whiner to “please go to your room, you are hurting my ears”.

    You know that I think your drama queen is a cutie patutie and I admire your patience with your two lovely children. I also see you as a refreshing parent in the stream of some weird practices out in the world. But I wonder why you ask your child “What happened to my happy girl?” because this just seems odd to me. In my opinion, it has nothing to do with happy or not happy. But with manners. It has to do with choice, happy is not a choice, it is a feeling, an emotion.

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