5 Daily Habits to Build A Nicer Child

Nice Child

Monkey See Monkey Do

Nicer Child

Having good habits is the key to a more enjoyable life for everyone. I wish as an adult I had better habits. Better manners and routines would be great. My mother didn’t teach me any manners. Looking back I do not categorize myself as a nice child. I am surprised I didn’t turn out to be a rude person… okay, I am at times but not on purpose!

So many people are rude, disrespectful and inconsiderate. I want to teach all my kiddos to be kind, respectful, appreciative, and skillful. In order for me to do that I have to build a structure. A base for all of their life learnings and be able to handle difficulties without a complete disaster.

I want to build a Nicer kid. The best way to do this to be the best monkey you can be. So your little monkey will be a Nicer copy of you.

Many people have asked me a question similar to this one:

He is less than 2 years old, why do you expect so much? 

I expect so much because he can do it. I would never expect him to do anything that he couldn’t do. He has always been a verbal kid. He is talking in full almost clear sentences. It has been Easier for him to learn these important skills. I said easier. Not easy! Just like I said NICER, not necessarily a nice kid, all kids can be Little Villains sometimes.

5 Daily Habits to Build a Nice Kid

1. Saying Please and Thank You

In order for my kiddos to say please and thank you, they had to hear it from me. A lot. Every time I ask for something, I say please and thank you. It has become a habit for me. A great habit that I needed to learn as well.

Growing up, I was not taught to say please and thank you…If I was my mother would have knocked some sense into me. I was disrespectful, spoiled, vulgar and downright ungrateful. This wasn’t because it was the type of person I was. That’s not me now. It was because no one taught me any different. I love my mother,  but she is not a discipline. To this day she will let anyone walk all over her, bless her heart. I try to tell her but that’s just not who she is…  and I wish she could stand up for herself and set some rules and expectations.

I will teach Lincoln to be everything I wasn’t growing up. Every time I handed him something I would say please and do the sign language for please. Then he started saying please along with the sign. Lincoln started out saying something that remotely sounded like, please. Now, he says please before he asks for anything. Not only is it the cutest thing! It makes me so proud that he knows to say it when he asks for something.

“Get up Mommy please,” he says as he tries to pull me up from the chair I am sitting at. We will keep working on not being so demanding… that may be a losing battle.

As for my big kids. Same goes for them, they have to say please if they want anything from me. I teach them to say please to each other when asking for something. Most importantly learning even if you say please doesn’t mean someone has to say yes. Right now we are working on not saying whatever… after a long conversation about what whatever actually means to the person you are saying it to.

Meaning, you don’t care what they have to say, and you don’t respect what they are saying. He has decreased the amount of time he uses it. I tried saying it to him when he was giving telling me a story. Of course, he didn’t like it and was put back by it…. Then I pointed out that it didn’t feel good to the person talking when you say whatever. It’s like saying your words don’t matter.

This deep conversation tactic won’t work for other kids, so you have to judge your own kid and try to see what type of methods work for you and your family. It’s always worth a try, sometimes they will surprise you!

2. Cleaning Up

Cleaning up after themselves and having chores is a lifelong skill all kids should have. They shouldn’t think everything is done for them no matter how old they are. You are their mom, not their maid. Unless you don’t have enough things to worry about.

For example, Lincoln throws all his own trash away, puts his dirty clothes in the basket. Cleans up his own toys and if he spills something he tries to clean it up( of course I have to go back and finish up). These are all things I have taught him since he started walking. He enjoys it and none of it feels like a chore because we make it a game.

I have heard people say:

I just do it because it’s going to take longer if they do it.

At first yes, but as the child gets older he will get things done faster and be able to add to their list of tasks they can help with.

Click here to read my blog on How to Teach Kids to clean up.

3. Using Their Words

This one isn’t just for the littles. Big kids have a hard time expressing their thoughts as well. It’s hard to understand what they are trying to express when they are too angry, frustrated or just mumbling.

When a child is upset and trying to talk no one has a translator for what they are trying to say. It’s practically impossible to figure it out. I have tried guessing and that just makes things worse.

Have child calm down first before trying to talk. I just tell them that I am not going to be able to understand or talk to them till they are calmed down and to come find me when they are. Then we can talk. This allows them to calm down, and me to calm down as well. No one likes to be yelled at and both parties can escalate things.

Your Toddler doesn’t talk? Start teaching sign language! We started this when Lincoln was 6 months old. By the time he was 8 months old he was using hand signals to tell us what he wanted. Having this communication skill allowed him to be happier and communicate to you their wants. Boy, do they have strict demands!

4. Putting Clothes On and Good Hygiene

Independence and hygiene skills are crucial. Lincoln just learned to pull up his pants by himself! Little feat but critical skill when being potty independent.

Good hygiene is going to be an endless battle for a boy. For some reason, boys have this idea in their heads that they are the exception to hand washing after using the bathroom. We need a huge sign on the door or better yet, an alarm that goes off when they don’t wash their hands. Inventors get to work!

As a child, I was never forced to do any hygiene skills. I did do them because I wanted to, sometimes but not as much as I should of. This lead me to have cavities, pimples and lacking hygiene habits. It was because no one told me and we didn’t have YouTube videos or Pinterest to answer all out life’s questions.  As an adult, I see how important those skills, and actions are.Nicer Child

5. Using nice words, and gentle hands.

This sounds like something you would use with young kids. As and educator I find myself constantly saying ” Use your nice words”, and  ” Be gentle”. Even with my big kiddos. Brothers and sisters fight sometimes…this is a given, but they shouldn’t be fighting all the time. If they are its time to step back and set expectations and consequences for these actions.

Then look at where they are seeing and hearing these unacceptable behaviors.  It could be at school, daycare, relatives house, television, games….anywhere! Even your own home, from siblings or adults. Monkey sees, Monkey do. 

We have all heard this expression used, but I never knew how important my actions and surroundings would be until I had a toddler. They mock and copy everything! I yelled at my television the other day ” What is this shi….t!” ( I’m not even sure what I was watching maybe it was a basketball game or something of that nature.) Lincoln turns from his toys and repeats as clear as day. I literally did a facepalm, mostly to cover up from laughing.

Never laugh at something you don’t want to happen again……. Turn away fast or go into the other room. Most the time not laughing isn’t an option! It is so funny! It shouldn’t be but it is…

Anyways, we have to be careful of what our children are exposed to. They are like little sponges and take in everything around them….except when you squeeze them…it does come back out. It takes a lot longer to unteach something then it does to teach it. My husband and I are going to work hard at being better at being a good example, for the most part, we are. Except when my husband playfully smacks my butt and then Lincoln does.

I want to hear your stories! Tell me a funny story when your child copied what you or someone around you did!


37 Responses

  1. I completely agree with the monkey see-monkey do! Children are watching EVERYTHING! You need to model good behaviors so that your little one knows how to do them…we can’t expect them to behave well if we don’t!

  2. sonya says:

    Raising future citizens is a big responsibility. Important to be mindful of the lessons we instill

  3. Devon says:

    Great post! I especially like numbers 3 and 5. I’ve been working on these with my girls.

  4. liz Cleland says:

    I can relate to the struggles of trying to understand a toddler who is learning to speak. I taught my son sign language before spoken words. Nothing hard just things like “more”, “yes” etc.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      This is great! I think all toddlers should be taught sign language! I wish it was taught more in school if you ask me but that’s because ASL intrigues me. I bet it helped a lot with communicating, it did with my son. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Becca Day says:

    Wow, I have to teach my son on the cleaning part. I always have a hard time trying to get him to help with house chores or clean his room. I feel like he takes so much time so I always offer to help. From now on, I will let him get used to it.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      Yes! Sometimes they are slow on purpose! Why do it all really fast when I can do it slowly and then mom jumps in to finish. Lincoln now says ” Mommy help” He is already trying to get me to clean it up for him. As soon as he stops cleaning I stop cleaning. There is nothing wrong with helping, but they have to be doing their fair share! So yes just let him get used to it, for the older kids If they made the mess and I didn’t participate what so ever then they have to clean it up themselves before moving on to next activity. Thanks for commenting! Thanks for sharing a little part of your world!

  6. Debby says:

    i love this! It seems like common sense but I raised my kids this way 20 years ago. They are wonderful, considerate polite young women. I see many, many kids today who have poor manners and parents are not showing them the correct way. Thank you for posting and sharing these concepts with others.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      It really is common sense, but the bad part is that so many of us without even trying forget these common sense things. Any momma who reads my blog is looking for help, for guidance or already has a nice kid. There are no bad mommas, just ones who need some support and guidance! Shew, I know I do!

  7. Sarah Frank says:

    This is great. I’m honestly terrified of having a mean or rude child… (she’s only 3 months old right now) but I think these are great starting points! I will definitely be saving this for future reference.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      I am too! Those super nanny shows, and videos of mean kids make me so scared! Which is why I started EARLY! There was no way my kid was going to be rude little villain if I could do something about it!

  8. Lisa says:

    My kids call me out all the time! They are approaching teenage years now and I’ve noticed they will be nicer to strangers than they are to me sometimes. I remember my mom teaching my kindness but I was also mean to her as a teen. Maybe a collaboration post in the future 😉 .

    • Laura Driskell says:

      It is so important! I wish I had more respect for my mom growing up. I treated her like crap and she let me! It was mostly when I was a teenager, but we are super close now and I call her every day. Maybe because I am a mom now and I respect all the hard work she put in. Of course, a teenager is going to be rude sometimes, mean, angry and spiteful at times but it is also important to let them know what you expect of them and that you do not have to give them what they want if they treat you rudely. Example, taking them places, games, paying for stuff for them.
      Stay strong mamma! Would love to do a collaboration post in the future. I am leaning towards doing a Friday 5.

  9. Annie says:

    This is a great post! My son is 16 months and I sometimes find myself saying “he’s too little. He doesn’t know that yet,” when thinking about picking up, please and thank you, etc.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      It is never too soon to learn! We used sign language for please, more, want, and thank you starting at 9 months. He didn’t get it down untill probably 11 months ( we didn’t focus on it as much till 10 months old). Some people do it even sooner, but it also is never too late! You should start with More, then go to please ect. It will make communicating so much easier on everyone! Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing a little of your world!

  10. Some great tips here. We’ve done most of these with Monkey although the cleaning up still needs a lot of work! We try though and it’s working as we get positive comments about her behaviour all the time. For us the most important thing has been having high expectations whilst remembering she is still little and will mess up sometimes (but messing up is a goid opportunity to talk about what we SHOULD do)

    • Laura Driskell says:

      So true Janet! We all mess up. Kids mess up a lot which is why they learn so fast! If the kid was always nice then they wouldn’t know how to handle bad feelings or a bad mood. Also, knowing that mommy isn’t perfect and mommy has bad moods as well is always a good thing to learn! Thanks for reading and sharing a part of your life with me.

  11. gela says:

    great post. I also think kids should help with chores from a young age. it doesn’t matter how long it takes them. it’s worth showing them to teach them responsibility, independence and life skills.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      You are so right Gela! They will learn to do right, and faster as they go! And it will keep them from slacking off if they have something to work towards. Thanks for commenting and reading!

  12. Ummmm my oldest child who is now 13, was a little parrot. It’s all fun and games until I drop a pickle jar in the grocery store and break it and HE yells the s word while everyone is staring. Oops. Lesson learned there! I totally agree with monkey see monkey do – I try to be a good example in my actions and words (except for the curse word slip ups).

    • Laura Driskell says:

      I have to watch my mouth big time! I don’t cuss often, expect for exclamatory remarks…. but I really have to stop myself often, or not laugh when he repeats me.
      At 13, they usually know all the curse words anyway but it is just showing that they shouldn’t be used in everyday conversation and what these cuss words actually mean. Thanks for reading and sharing a little part of your world with me! I love getting to know my readers.

  13. I am such a stickler for #1! Manners seem to be a lost art in our world, and I’m doing everything I can to teach my daughter that it’s always important to say please and thank you!

    • Laura Driskell says:

      They do seem like a lost art. Even for adults! I’m not sure where these bad manners are being learned, I guess bad manners are always there unless good manners are taught. You keep doing whats best for your daughter! That’s all we can do, just try to help our kids not be that person you hate to be around or get annoyed with because they were so rude.

  14. Ashlea says:

    I can totally relate to this post. It is true our little ones copy everything they see us do. My 16 month old does push ups now because he copied my husband doing them. My husband is working on please and thank you but he doesnt talk much and when he does only when he feels like it.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      Have you tried pairing words with sign language? This worked great for us when he was young and not talking as much. He is a very vocal child, but this also was because he repeated what we said often when asking for an item. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Ashlea says:

        We have been working on sign language with him. He can talk even say full sentences. He just chooses not to until he feels like it. He does the sign for eat when he is hungry though.

  15. rachel says:

    Yep totally agree with you. Our kids are our next generation, it’s important we bring them up with manners and respect for each other and their selves.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      Yes! Sometimes I am hopefully for the next generation, and other times I am fearful! All these things are very important to teach kids. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. Madelynn says:

    These have been our five big focuses lately, so it’s funny that this is the article I stumbled upon today! I love it! Our biggest struggle right now is the using words, because our 4yo will happily just ignore everyone if she’s not in the mood to talk.

    • Laura Driskell says:

      Well, that is great! These are the 5 main things we work on daily, of course, there are others that I want to teach him but these are the most important traits I focus on. Thanks for reading and enjoying this post!

  17. Meghna says:

    Wonderful tips there. Thanks for sharing

  18. Kassi says:

    I love this! Our little ones are sponges and take in everything we do – if we are kind and thoughtful they will be kind and thoughtful. This is really such a great post. Thank you for sharing!

    • Laura Driskell says:

      Yes, they soak in everything. Lincoln will bring up things that I didn’t even know he noticed or knew. Constantly amazing me! So glad you enjoyed reading it!

  19. Tina says:

    Manners are becoming a lost art. It is so important that they are taught at home. All of my kids said some baby form of please and thank you as soon as they started forming words. Even my youngest, who has a speech delay. I knew that even though we were working with him just to get out a word or two, we still had to stress those same things we did with the others. One of the 1st things he said was “Mo,peez” (more,please).
    I totally identify with having to cover up when they say something bad, but funny. When my 3 yr old told his 7 yr old brother to put his shoes away and not leave them in the hall like a little b&#@h, I had to leave the room for a second to compose myself. I seriously didn’t know where he got that phrase, then figured it must have been Daddy coming home from work and venting about someone. So, I did what any good wife would do. I told him to go tell his Daddy what he just said, so Daddy had to try to keep a straight face, too. I figured since it was his fault, he would have to look into those big blue eyes and hand down punishment. 🙂

  20. I agree completely! Parents dont realize that their children copy them so much…and if you’re a rude person, you might have rude children!

  21. Great post! Teaching our kids to be good people is best by showing them how to act like good people. I never realized that I make a little grunt noise when I bend over sometimes until my son started doing huge exaggerated grunts when he bends over! HA!

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