Teach ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
Aside from hearing your toddler say ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy’, one of the most endearing things you can hear is ‘please’ or ‘ta’. It’s never too soon to teach these basic niceties, and your little one will charm al those around them if they’re in the practice of saying them – especially if they can do it unprompted!
Practise often – and set an example by always remembering to use them yourself, even with your immediate family, who are too often taken for granted!
Also see: Wish We'd Known: 12 Things No One Tells You About Having a Toddler
Keep them at the table
There can be few things more irritating for other diners than kids running rampant around a restaurant, and even those with children themselves might very well object if yours are unruly and disruptive.
The trick is to make the table more entertaining than the rest of the place, so engage with them, and bring plenty of amusements like colouring pens and books, playing cards, story books and puzzles. Just steer clear of noisy toys or anything with lots of pieces that could get scattered everywhere.
Sit them on your lap on transport
There’s no need for kids up to high-school age to take up their own seat on transport if there are needy adults standing, so keep a watch out for pregnant, disabled or elderly passengers, and encourage your child to offer their seat and sit on your lap instead.
It’s not done often enough and will usually be very welcome.
Also see: Hilarious! The Amazing Things These Babies Would Say if They Could
Ban the gum
Kids who are seen chewing gum rarely endear themselves to anyone. It’s fine if you want to allow the habit at home where there’s a bin at the ready for when the gum is no longer wanted, but the streets and restaurant tables are littered with so much spent and discarded gum that it’s best to discourage the practice in public.
Discourage belching and farting
Some parents make a comedy out of their kids belching or farting in front of other people, but how many of those people actually find it funny? If you do find it amusing to teach your child to belch to order or to encourage them to try and squeeze out a fart in public, it’s best kept within the family home, if you feel the need to do it at all.
At best, it’s off-putting; at worst, revolting.
Also see: 9 Things You're Doing Wrong as a Mom
Discuss inappropriate behaviour
Toddlers and young children can become quite preoccupied with playing with their privates, even in public. They’re too innocent to realise that it’s a taboo, and are only concerned with how nice it feels! They’ll often try to coerce other kids into showing them their bits, too, and will openly flash theirs around if they’re not taught to keep it for home.
Of course, you don’t want to make your child feel ‘dirty’, so you need to tread sensitively. Teach them that there are some parts of their body that are private just to them, and point out that you don’t see grown-ups’ or older kids’ privates out in public. If they do start fiddling in company, gently distract them with a game or toy.
Pick up on nose picking
How many kids never pick their noses? It’s a common enough practice (even amongst adults) but no one actually wants to witness it – especially not when they’re enjoying lunch! The problem is that after fishing around in their nostrils, children tend either to eat what they’ve found or wipe it down the front of their clothes (yuk!).
Make sure your child always has access to a tissue, and make it clear from the outset that nose picking is really not acceptable behaviour.
Also see: Vacationing With Other People's Children
Explain about unwanted comments
‘Mummy, why is that lady so fat?’ is the sort of question that makes a parent want the ground to open up and swallow them. Whilst you won’t be able to prevent any inappropriate outbursts or questions, you can have the conversation with your child that there are some things you just don’t say.
Try turning the tables and asking them how they’d feel if someone picked on them for how they looked. You can do this effectively with role play, using your child’s toys as the characters in a story where someone gets picked on and ends up feeling very offended.
Give them a knife and fork
When children first start to eat solid foods, it’s perfectly acceptable to let them dig in with their hands – in fact, it’s to be encouraged. But as they get older and gain better hand skills, giving them their own knife and fork will make it easier for them to eat out more acceptably in public.
After all, not everyone wants to see a three-year-old smearing bolognaise sauce all over their faces or digging into a bowl of baked beans with their fingers, let alone have to clean up after them. In any case, once your child feels they’re growing into a ‘big’ boy or girl, they’ll probably love the feeling of having their own cutlery set.
Also, encourage your child to ask you any questions they have about other people quietly rather than blurting them out for all to hear. Whispering isn’t ideal, but it’s better than loudly-exclaimed insults!
Also see: 18 True Things Moms Do Not Want to Admit
Don’t allow swearing
There’s no excuse for allowing children to swear. Many will pick up inappropriate language, either at home if you’re not too careful or from other children or adults, and it’s worth reiterating every time that these words are offensive to other people.
How you discipline is up to you, but perhaps a small penalty each time they swear, or the withdrawal of a small privilege might work. Sometimes giving an alternative, acceptable phrase like ‘Oh sausages!’ for your child to say when they’re frustrated can be effective, but some people would say that this reinforces the principle that angry outbursts are acceptable.
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