Steps to Raising Polite and Obedient Children

Your little one often refuses to take "no" for an answer and is rude to boot. She seems to delight in defying your orders and lacks basic civility when interacting with others. Raising your toddler to be polite and obedient doesn't mean turning her into a robot -- it teaches her manners and graciousness, even under pressure, and to respect authority. With your help, being polite and obedient will become second nature to her.

Set an Example

You've lost count of how many times during each hectic day you're close to losing your cool. The trigger could be the rude cashier at the supermarket, the speeding vehicle that cuts you off in traffic or the annoying telemarketer who always phones while you're preparing dinner. Rather than giving them a piece of your mind, take a breath and remain polite and respectful. Your little one sees you as a role model and is always observing how you handle encounters with others. If you react rudely, she'll believe that's an appropriate response and mimic your behavior. By staying civil in all situations, you'll teach politeness by example.

Instilling Good Manners

Your toddler is a natural charmer and will be even more so once she learns how to be polite. You can help develop her socialization skills by encouraging her to maintain eye contact during conversations, shake hands when meeting new people and say "please" and "thank you." When she forgets to be courteous, say "Thank your little brother for lending you his crayons." Don't scold or yell at her if she fails to say "thank you" to Aunt Betty for her gift or "please" at the dinner table while asking for more milk. A gentle "What do we say?" will suffice as a reminder.

Teaching Obedience

It's understandable if you're occasionally tempted to throw in the towel. Your toddler disobeys you so frequently that you often feel like allowing her to have her way, just to avoid another scene. But by giving in, you'll be sending the message that she can get what she wants by throwing a tantrum. Don't react by losing your own temper, which could backfire and cause her to become even more disobedient. Instead, impose a time out by sending her to her room until she does what she's told or take away her favorite toy, which will teach the consequences of not following rules. Never spank her. Spanking leads to increased aggression in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dangers of Cracking the Whip

Disobeying you from time to time is a natural part of your little one's maturation process. She's developing autonomy and forming her own opinions that may be different from your own. The danger of ignoring her feelings and insisting she obey you at all costs could lead her to become a fearful, overly compliant adult. It may become difficult for her to stand up for herself, believing her opinions don't matter. Ask her to express any objections to a rule and respect her feelings. Say, "I understand you don't want to go to bed, but sleep is important." Working together in a spirit of mutual cooperation will help her become less defiant, while still allowing her to develop independence.