Preschoolers often try to mimic your habits and behavior.
Preschoolers love to act "just like Mommy," and say and do the same things you do. It's so cute when your little one copies you by walking around in your high heels or trying to carry Daddy's briefcase. It's less cute when she parrots your potty mouth -- typically at day care or Sunday school. And your mother-in-law won't be impressed when she sees her precious grandchild sweeping with her little broom and pushing dirt under the couch, only to be told, "This is how Mommy does it before you come over!" Good or bad, preschoolers learn best by watching how you do things -- so take care to model the behaviors you want them to pick up.
1Treat people the way you want your preschooler to treat others. She needs to see you being kind to family members and friends, helpful to others and courteous at the table and in other social settings. Regardless of what you tell her, she is more likely to do what she sees you doing -- especially when she sees the same behavior in the same situation -- time after time.
2Tell your preschooler what you're doing and why -- and that you want her to do the same. Say, "We hold the door open for people, because that's the nice thing to do" when you do this for someone who has their arms full. Explain table manners by saying, "When you want more milk at dinner say, 'May I please have some more milk?' because that's using good manners." This reinforces the behavior you want her to learn, as you are performig it yourself.
3Pay attention to what you say -- not just what you do -- because your preschooler will mimic your words and your tone. You can tell her dozens of times not to use curse words -- but if she hears you curse every time you slam on the brakes in the car, she'll repeat them. And your efforts to teach her to speak respectfully to others will be shot down when she hears you barking at the sales clerk in the grocery store or yelling at your spouse, because he forgot to pick up the dry cleaning.