What kinds of manners are appropriate for 2,3,4 year olds to learn? What things can reasonably be expected at these young ages?

These are things we work on with at least moderate success. Of course they need reminders all the time, but the point is not memorization as much as it is a general awareness of other people/their property. This type of orientation is more important than success with any one rule.

Saying please and thank-you

Shaking someone’s hand when they greet you

Saying excuse me when you pass

Saying excuse me when you burp (or worse!)

Covering your mouth when you sneeze/cough

Giving younger children a toy, letting them go first

Waiting for their turn, giving someone else a turn

Sitting at least semi-correctly and acting at least semi-politely at the table

Saying I’m Sorry when you do something wrong

Giving a crying child a hug or kiss, getting them help

Sharing a treat, gift

Saying no, thank you when offered something they don’t want

Giving up “watch me” (“look at me”) or “watch this”

Not yelling across the house (or playground, restaurant, mall) for parent

Giving up “me first”

Taking shoes off in someone else’s house

Asking to use the bathroom or have some food in someone else’s house

Keeping feet off the furniture

Keeping legs down/closed

Not standing in the way of the TV

Not standing in the way of two adults speaking

Interrupting politely, at appropriate times

Not bossing around; asking permission of someone else to help, enter, etc.

Cleaning up toys they got out (especially in a doctor’s office, friend’s house, etc)

Not yelling in a restaurant, library

No whining; using an adult voice to ask permission

knocking before entering (waiting for an answer is harder, but at least you can get a warning signal!)

Turning off lights when leaving a room

Not stepping on toys or other people

Giving others “space”

Giving others “a spot” when they are watching, playing, etc.

Being careful around a baby or someone laying on the floor

Not touching, waving things in people’s faces

Not pulling hair or touching people’s bodies inappropriately; keeping hands to themselves

Not answering questions intended for others

Saying something nice when someone gives you a present (even if you don’t like it)

Saying “bless you” when someone sneezes

No fake coughing or making weird noises


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