Responsibility and respect, that is.
When a child is old enough to follow a chore chart you can put your feet up at time and watch someone else do the dishes for a change. But, to get to that point, first one must learn the importance of cleaning up and following directions. By starting at a young age, a child is able to grow up learning what is important in your family.
It’s easy to watch your family room turn into a toy store. Babies and toddlers easily move from one toy to another without blinking. Their attention span seems like that of a fly. And before bed it can look like an actual tornado went through your house. It’s not necessary to expect a 13 month old to pick up all of the toys, that’s mostly your job. But, asking him to do just 3, 5, or 10 depending on the age is not much. And when you are providing the example, he will be more likely to follow along.
- Have her doll baby “help”.
- Push a laundry basket or toy bin around the room as a bus picking up its “passengers”.
- Fly her around the room, pausing to pick up a toy here and there.
- “We’re all done cleaning up, big hugs/high five! Now, let’s go get a bath/read a book/get our shoes on.”
Of course, at times there will be defiance, but as with everything, hold your ground and be persistent. Don’t let her sneak away some nights and expect it another night. Babies and toddlers need consistency.
Hello, Bye-Bye, Please and Thank You
Is there something your child does that he picked up on without you teaching him? Maybe he pretends to put on your shoes at the door? Or holds a pretend phone to his ear and says “Hello?” Has he repeated the one word you hoped he didn’t pick up on when someone cut your car off?
Raising tiny humans is hard, but it can be easier if you are providing the correct model. YOU. If you want your child to use manners, speak highly of others, not to tease or yell than guess what…you should be doing the same. Be the person you want your child to be. We know they mimic everything their parents do from pretend mixing a bowl to facial expressions and conversations.
Teaching respect and social cues is harder than following directions. You can’t make a 9 month old say “Thank you”. When opportunities arise, be the model and help your child observe what is expected. Make it known it’s not all about them, but involving others too.
- Leaving the grocery store, “Say Bye Bye!” While you are waving, hopefully the cashier is nice enough to play along.
- At the playground, “Let’s watch the little girl go down the slide, here she comes! Wee! Now it’s your turn!”
- Getting a sticker after gym class? Point out how cool the sticker/prize is to make an excited/happy feeling in your child. “Look at Miss Sarah and say thank you for the sticker, Thank you!” Try to get your child to look at the opposite person, any eye contact or a shy smile provides the same as a verbal “Thank You”.
- As with any social interaction, think of yourself, how are you responding and interacting with others? Your child is present for all of it, so treat others as you want your child to!
Now, go play!