There is no one age for teaching manners, as one can’t teach them all at once. Learning manners is a gradual process that goes on for many years. Furthermore, the manners to be taught vary from one family to another and one region of the country to another. For example, as a child growing up in Texas, I had to learn was to say “Ma’am” and “Sir” when talking to grown-ups. In other parts of the country, this is regarded as a quaint regional custom. May I add the editorial opinion that it isn’t a bad custom.
Probably the earliest manifestation of manners most parents want to encourage is saying, “Please” and “Thank you.” If that fits your goals, you have a clue as to when to begin—only after your child has a vocabulary of 20 to 30 words. Then, as both phrases generally accompany easily perceived actions—asking for milk, being handed a gift or desired item—it is perhaps easier for very young children to understand what is being requested of them when we ask them to say the appropriate word.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.