Very early on in my son's life, his pediatrician suggested we talk to him extensively, to give a play-by-play of everything we do. A few examples: Do you want the red ball? Mommy is getting your milk; please be patient. Do you see the bird? It is over there on the tree branch. The bird says "tweet tweet." I am shampooing your hair; ok, now let's rinse your hair... I am constantly talking to my son, and although people might look at me like a crazy person in the grocery store, I know I am teaching my child, and my two year old has a great vocabulary because of it.
On another subject on talking with your toddlers, rather than telling your toddler not to do something, which inadvertently puts the idea in the child's head, phrase your sentence in another way to tell him what he should do. For example, rather than saying, "Here is a ball to play with. Don't throw it.," you should instead say, "Here is a ball to play with. Let's roll it on the floor like this." If your child is already doing something you don't want him to do, then it would probably be appropriate at that time to say not to do it, such as telling your child not to bite or hit.
Talking can also be a great distraction. When my son is stir-crazy and frustrated about being in the car too long, I point out things and we make a fun game of it. We look at trees, water towers, hay, horses, the sky, the moon, police cars, tow trucks, windows, etc. It keeps him quiet a little longer. Another trick we do in the car is putting the windows down. My son likes to tell me which of the four windows to put down and up.
In addition to talking a lot, I think it is also important to lead by example and follow the rule - do as I say AND as I do. I think if you are polite with your toddler, he will be learn to be polite in return. Whenever my son gives me something, I always tell him thank you, and so in return, he always says thank you for everything I give him. He even tells me thank you after I change his diaper. The same rules apply with saying please. I try to never do anything I don't want my child to see me doing and repeat, which can be hard sometimes.
Emily became a mommy on her birthday in July of 2008 to a wonderful son named Sam. She has since become rather obsessed with all things related to babies and baby items.