Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaching My Toddler Manners

Kids, especially toddlers, are like sponges. They absorb so many new skills and knowledge amazingly fast. I’ve been teaching my son so many things since he was a baby and it never fails to amaze me whenever he starts saying or doing what I have taught him. It could be because I’m a first-time mom. But then again, I suppose it goes beyond that. Raising kids, I believe, is one glorious task. Many times challenging; but nonetheless, glorious and fulfilling as a whole.

My son has brought us so much joy when he first recognized the letters of the alphabet and when he started counting. Today, at 23 months old, he has already mastered counting from 1 to 10 and he can count really fast. He’s now ventured into counting from 11 to 20. And judging by the pace by which he learns, I wouldn’t be surprised if he learns to count up to 20 on or before his second birthday which is less than a month from today. He already knows the alphabet. He recognizes all the letters and knows a number of words that begin with each letter. He has yet to master its correct sequence but he has begun a new pursuit... spelling! He started with his first name (GIAN) then he spelled the word BIG. Talk about setting BIG goals at a young age. It’s truly rewarding for a parent to see progress in his/her son’s learning and development. But the joys of seeing your child learn and take on good manners that you have just recently taught are much more fulfilling.

I was pleasantly caught by surprise when slowly my toddler son began doing the things that my husband and I had been teaching him in the past months. He first learned to cover his mouth when coughing or sneezing. He wipes his mouth with his bib after eating or drinking. He also covers his mouth at times when laughing. He now knows how to say “thank you” and “excuse me.” He knows how to take the hand of his parents and elders to ask for blessing. He knows how to say his prayers before meals and before going to bed. He knows how to show reverence for the images of Jesus and Mary. He sometimes says “please” and returns things when you ask him. He cleans up the floor or the table whenever he spilled something on it. He also greets people “good morning” or “good night” wherever he sees them – be they strangers that he just saw or family members he know. He also says “goodbye” even to security guards and elevator operators when he’s about to leave. He knows how to share his food or drink not only with family members but even to people he doesn’t know. Lately, he has been slowly learning how to use the quiet voice which would prove to be very helpful when we are in church.

I used to wonder before if it’s possible to teach a toddler manners. Now, I know it can be done. I have learned from my experience of teaching my son that parents can sometimes underestimate their children’s capabilities and that it would help to always take some time to pay close attention on their progress to gauge if we are setting the bar too low. I also believe that it’s good to start teaching manners and values while they are young so that they would form a good habit of practicing them. I have also learned firsthand that kids learn not only by telling them what to say and do but also by having role models around them whom they can emulate. Repetition and frequent reminders are also vital. Today, I‘m happy to witness my toddler slowly form good habits of practicing good manners. These accomplishments encourage me to be persistent and patient in continuously molding his character. He may still have a lot to learn but his current achievements inspire me to aim to be the best teacher I can be both in words and in action. May God’s wisdom direct me and His grace sustain me!

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