Recently, a friend's 6-year-old was over playing with my two kids. When she asked for a snack, I said, "Sure, honey, hold on for a few minutes." Five minutes later, I walked into the room again. She'd gotten hungrier, and meaner. "I told you I wanted a snack!" she barked.
Annie, 8, stared at her, appalled. "You can't talk to my mom like that," she said. "You have to ask her politely!"
"Yeah," echoed 5-year-old Jack. "You have to say 'please!'"
My irritation turned to pride. My constant reminders of "Say please" and "Did I hear a 'Thank you, Mom?'" had had some effect! Learning good manners is one of the most important parts of being a kid—and using them makes everyday life easier and more pleasant. How much do you know about what to teach your child when? Take our quiz and see.
Your 1-year-old loves to sit at the table with you. But she also loves to fling her food and shriek. You:
A. Feed her in the kitchen, with a tarp on the floor. Switch off with your spouse so you each get ten minutes to eat.
B. Teach her how to use a fork and remove her from the table if she yells.
C. Feed her first, but then let her join you.
You're visiting your parents. When your mom tries to hug your toddler, he yells, "I don't like you! Stop it!" You:
A. Shrug and chalk it up to his being little and not understanding how to act.
B. Punish him with a time-out for talking like that.
C. Apologize to your mother, and then explain to your toddler how you want him to behave.
When you and your preschooler run into his teacher, he buries his face in your legs instead of saying hello. All efforts to make him greet her are foiled. You:
A. Apologize and laugh it off. You'll explain how you would like him to behave next time.
B. Insist your son say hello, even if you have to pry him off you with a crowbar.
C. Hide from the teacher next time to avoid a repeat.
Your 7-year-old received many gifts at her birthday party, but now she refuses to write thank-you notes, saying it's too hard. You:
A. Agree. It's too much to ask of a kid, and no one will notice that you never sent them.
B. Admit that it's hard but tell her why it's important, and then find the time to do them together.
C. Write them yourself.
Your 3-year-old has two friends over. She starts eating with her hands, using potty words, and ignoring you. She's just showing off, but what do you do?
A. Threaten to send the kids home if she can't behave. After all, she should know better.
B. Be cool but firm: Restate your rules.
C. Let it slide. There's safety in numbers, and she's feeling her oats with her buddies.
Your toddler has become such a chatterbox that every phone call compels him to talk louder so you'll pay attention to him. You:
A. Distract him while you're talking, then finish up quickly.
B. Send him to his room. That'll teach him not to interrupt!
C. Excuse yourself from the adult conversation and gently ask the child what he needs.
Your preschooler's observations are all too accurate (and loud)—like the time she pointed out a very fat lady. Next time she does it, you:
A. Shush her and pretend it didn't happen.
B. Apologize to the woman in front of your child.
C. Tell your child to keep her comments to herself.
Get the answers on page 2...
Contributing editor Julie Tilsner's latest book is Mommy Yoga.