Glued to the TV -- Ask Mrs Manners

Cynthia Dermody

Photo by Momof3cuties

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners:

My toddler ignores others when she's engrossed in something. Very rude. We always make her stop her activity to say bye to someone, hi, or just to listen to us. She still is not in the habit of listening to us in this way. Sometimes we have to remove her from whatever her attention is on (often the TV) so that she will pay attention. Even some adults I know ignore people when they're engrossed in TV. What's the best way to break a toddler of this habit? And no, we probably won't stop letting her watch television, LOL! -- mommy2028

MrsManners says:

I have a great game to play that will deal with this problem -- the Wiggle and Giggle game. We've talked about it here before.

But first I want to suggest one other solution that might work -- forcing their attention. While you are implementing the Wiggle and Giggle game, you may want to consider gently turning your toddlers face towards you when you want her attention. Say, "Alison, please look at me when I am speaking to you." Keep reminding her that she should make eye contact when she is being spoken to and eventually, she will get there!

The Wiggle and Giggle Game

Every child has pent up excitement and energy building every moment they have to hold still. I allow my students to request one Wiggle and Giggle, giving them the chance to use it when THEY need it.

To teach the game, ask your child to stand up (do it with them) and say, "Mrs. P, Mommy, whomever, may we wiggle and giggle?" Then let them jump around, spin, and laugh, laugh, laugh. When you think they've blown off enough steam, call out the magic words, "May I have Your Attention Please?"

Tell your child to stop, look, and listen to whoever calls out the magic words. Repeat this game often. If you have an activity planned with your child for the day, tell him that he can ask to wiggle and giggle one time, or if you are really trying to drive the point home quickly, two or three times. It's all about the repetition.

You may want to come up with a different version for the car, where they wiggle and giggle in their seats, using it as a way to get some of the silliness out before entering a restaurant. While in the restaurant, if the wiggles and giggles start to come out uninvited, then you simply say the magic words and hopefully your child comes to full alert.

This popular game is not only a part of my classes, it's part of my Homemade Manners program, as well.

Learning to pay attention at a young age will help toddlers throughout their whole lives. Listening is the foundation for proper communication, whether in the home, school, with friends, or on the job. The possibilities and benefits of this little secret are endless.



Got a question for MrsManners? Leave it here or PM her, and she'll answer it in a future column ...


Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

Should I Be the Manners Police?

Should You Force Etiquette?

Making Embarrassing Comments

Taking Other Kids' Food

Dealing with Trash Talk

Refusing to Pick Up Toys

Dining Out With Toddlers

Attention, Please!

Spoiling vs. Nurturing

Strangling the Dog

Please Don't Interrupt!

10 Signs Your Toddler Is a Brat

Banish the Burp

Should Kids Be Forced to Share Toys?

Winging the Pacifier

Should Parents Say 'Thank You'?

Toddlers Eating Everything

Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early

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