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#1 of 10 Old 02-09-2011, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd, who is a lovely, bright almost-4 year old, will often times clam up totally in front of people she doesn't know very well when she should be being polite. I don't like it but I'm not convinced that it's something I need to worry too much about right now at this age, but what do you all think?

 

Example: when we go to the grocery store and the check-out person smiles at her and talks to her and gives her stickers. I tell her to say thank you and she shakes her head sullenly and refuses. Or when we pick her and her brother up from day care and she comes into the baby room where I'm nursing her brother and the women who work there all fawn over her and say hi and try to talk to her and she either says nothing or sometimes she even grunts grumpily at them. When I tell her to say "thank you" or to say hello back or whatever the situation requires, she will hiss at me, "Mommy, I'm SHY!" I try to tell her that's okay to be shy but that you still have to be polite. When it's a case of someone giving her something and her refusing to thank them, I don't let her have the thing.

 

Which brings me to the sort of second prong of this question: How would you deal with this if you did think it warranted addressing? I often find myself self-conscious of "punishing" her in front of other people, nor do I know exactly what sort of discipline or motivation would work in this situation, apart from the withholding of gifts that people try to give her when she doesn't say thank you. But what about her just refusing to say hi or answer peoples questions or whatever? What can/should I do in this instances?

 

Any advice or opinions would be much appreciated, TIA!


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#2 of 10 Old 02-10-2011, 04:08 AM
 
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hmmmm...i've struggled with this myself.  my boys are now 6 and 3.5.  my oldest is much more "shy" if you will than the younger, but both are fairly hesitant to speak or even politely acknowledge people they don't know.  i was the same way at that age.  i was called "shy" and asked "if the cat got my tongue"?!?!?!?!  looking back, i feel that that may have made me feel even worse b/c i think that maybe i wanted to talk, but felt awkward and a trusted adult publicly pointing out that awkwardness made it even worse.  My oldest would always just stand stone-still and straight-faced....my younger has actually stuck out his tongue or blown raspberries.  HIGHLY EMBARASSING i'll tell you!!!!!  but i TRY to say nothing more than his name with a not-so-happy look on my face, turn to the other person and MODEL what i'd like my children to be able to do or say.  even if that means I am thanking the bank for the lollipop or the dentist for the sticker or telling the librarian we enjoyed a certain book or whatever.  I feel it's important for them to see me acting politely and that I am comfortable doing it.  I tend to be of the opinion that "disciplining" this kind of behavior in front of a stranger (or really anyone outside the house) can make the child feel worse.  maybe i'm totally wrong.  i've never NOT allowed my child to receive something that they didn't say thank you for. i would say that at almost 4 years of age, it's not something to worry about. 

Now, at my kids' current ages, it looks like this:

child receives something or someone says something to them

wait for child to respond

no response?  can you say _______?  (thank you, for example) or would you like to say______? (we went to the beach for vacation)

it either happens or not.  if not, i usually say "let's say it together" and 9.9999999 times out of 10, they say it with me.  my younger has gotten past the yucky face/raspberry stage at this point.  the reason why i say "let's say it together" is b/c i asked my oldest ds at home alone a couple of years ago "what would help you" in these types of situations.  he very quickly said "for you to say it with me".  i just think his comfort zone was alot like mine as a child and i really want to respect that and help him.  at the age of 35, i STILL feel awkard in a lot of social situations and sometimes like the cat's got my tongue.  i wish someone had helped me work out of it as a child but i think that, though they didn't consciously mean to do this, my parents were more worried about what another adult thought of me or "what kind of child they were raising with those manners" that they felt it more appropriate to label me shy or try to make me feel silly or bad for not talking in public.  rather than feeling like i was being helped to move into an area i was not comfortable with, it felt more like being pushed out on a stage.  just my experience, and my two cents...best of luck!

 

 

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#3 of 10 Old 02-10-2011, 04:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by La Sombra View Post

My dd, who is a lovely, bright almost-4 year old, will often times clam up totally in front of people she doesn't know very well when she should be being polite. I don't like it but I'm not convinced that it's something I need to worry too much about right now at this age, but what do you all think?

 

Example: when we go to the grocery store and the check-out person smiles at her and talks to her and gives her stickers. I tell her to say thank you and she shakes her head sullenly and refuses. Or when we pick her and her brother up from day care and she comes into the baby room where I'm nursing her brother and the women who work there all fawn over her and say hi and try to talk to her and she either says nothing or sometimes she even grunts grumpily at them. When I tell her to say "thank you" or to say hello back or whatever the situation requires, she will hiss at me, "Mommy, I'm SHY!" I try to tell her that's okay to be shy but that you still have to be polite. When it's a case of someone giving her something and her refusing to thank them, I don't let her have the thing.

 

Which brings me to the sort of second prong of this question: How would you deal with this if you did think it warranted addressing? I often find myself self-conscious of "punishing" her in front of other people, nor do I know exactly what sort of discipline or motivation would work in this situation, apart from the withholding of gifts that people try to give her when she doesn't say thank you. But what about her just refusing to say hi or answer peoples questions or whatever? What can/should I do in this instances?

 

Any advice or opinions would be much appreciated, TIA!


DD1 was exactly like this. She still doesn't like being put on the spot, honestly.

 

I never pushed it, and I never said, "say thank you" or whatever. I would thank the person for the comment, small gift or whatever. Then, I talked to dd1 about it afterwards, when there were no witnesses. I didn't like giving her the message that someone saying, "what a sweet little girl" or giving her stickers meant her own personal boundaries and comfort level were unimportant. So, we discussed the fact that people who go out of their way to be nice to you deserve some kind of acknowledgement and the culturally accepted form of acknowledgement is a simple "thank you". (This was extra complicated as dd1 - like me - would much rather people just left her alone than give her a gift she didn't ask for, and expect an uncomfortable level of interaction from her in return. That makes the idea that those people "deserve" something in return very, very difficult to explain, as the automatic reaction is pretty much, "well, why can't they just leave me alone, then???") It took a while, but she did eventually absorb what I was saying, and was/is able to apply it pretty consistently in her interactions with people. These days (she's now 7, almost 8), she very rarely needs any kind of reminder or anything. That usually only happens if she's unusually out of sorts, from being sick or something like that.

 

I also don't agree that the situation "requires" that she say hello back. I do know why people see it as rude to refuse to talk, but I dislike the way many adults treat children as some kind of captive audience. Kids haven't had a chance to learn to gracefully excuse themselves from a conversation, so they're stuck having to be "polite" as long as any given adult chooses to continue to inflict themselves on the child.


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#4 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 01:16 PM
 
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I think Storm Bride said exactly what I was going to say.

 

If DD doesn't want to say please/thank you/you're welcome, I don't try to pull it out of her. If a polite response is appropriate and DD is having none of it, I try to make a gracious reply for the both of us. I talk to DD a lot about the how we communicate with others, the kinds of things that make people feel good when talking to someone else, I suggest ways that we can show appreciation and interest in others, and that there are obviously going to be consequences if we are rude to people. If DD is rude to me, I will sometimes ask her if she can think of a nicer way to phrase a request, because I don't like to be spoken to in X way. I want DD to be aware of the consequences of how she speaks to people, I want her to be aware of the kinds of responses people LIKE to receive, but ultimately, I want her to make her own choices.


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#5 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 03:21 PM
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Being shy is a temperament trait that a person has just like any other temperament trait. I don't feel it's fair to your DD to punish her for something she can't help. I also feel that respecting your DD's boundaries and comfort level is more important than the adults you casually encounter. A simple smile with a "she's a little shy" would protect your DDs feelings, respect her personal space, and bring understanding to the adults. Most adults are very understanding of shy children and won't think your DD is rude at all. if someone gives your DD something model the correct behavior by saying 'thank you' for your DD. Punishing her and pushing her to talk when she feels completely unable to will not help her over come her shyness and could make things worse. Two books by Mary Kurcinka help you identify your child's temperament traits and then give you strategies for dealing with then. They are Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles winning for a lifetime, http://www.amazon.com/Kids-Parents-Power-Struggles-Lifetime/dp/0060930438/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297458240&sr=1-1 , and Raising Your Spirited Child. My DD was the opposite of your DD at that age. She was so excitable and high energy that she wanted to talk to everyone, while grinning and jumping up and down. I guiltily admit that I at times envied the parents with quieter children, but I treated my DD like I valued her just as she was. There probably isn't a parent alive who isn't sometimes embarrassed by their child. it's just that helping our children learn to happily deal with the world is more important.

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#6 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 03:57 PM
 
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A couple of thoughts:

 

One 'graceful' way out of this is to ASK the child, "would you like to say 'hi'?" if they say 'no', say "That's OK, maybe another day." Then turn to the adults and say "she takes a little while to warm up sometimes." This has several advantages -- it's given HER the power to say, "no, I don't want to talk". If she realizes that people won't force her to talk, she might become more comfortable. For YOU, it has the advantage of showing other people that you are indeed trying to socialize your child. I think that the reason we're so bothered by our kids not responding is because it makes us look like we're not teaching 'manners'. Whether or not kids should have to talk to other adults is a separate issue --- I believe strongly they shouldn't, just like I'm free to be 'rude' to the slightly weird person at the bus stop who keeps talking to me. But it's harder to remember that when we're feeling judged.
 

Another trick that worked really well with our son was to give him a non-verbal way to respond. "Do you want to say "hi" or wave?" He'd usually wave. I'd only insist on one or the other with friends of HIS. I'd say "If you don't respond to your friends, they think you're mad at them. You don't have to say anything, but you should wave." For adults or strangers, he was free to say hi, wave or do nothing. He's 9 now and will actually respond verbally. He's definitely Mr. Monosyllable still with people outside the family, but he's responding. I won't ask more than that. He's just an introvert who likes to listen. It's OK. The world needs listeners far more than it needs talkers!

 

Finally, I'd do everything in my power to eliminate the word "shy" from your vocabulary and HERS. Shyness is a personality trait (true), but it's also one that can feel like you have no power over it. I've tried hard to reframe things for my son so that he can feel more in charge. My favorite phrase is "It takes him a while to warm up". When we've talked about 'shyness', I'll say "I don't know if you're shy, but you do take a while to warm up. Once you know people, you don't look shy to me." Shyness is something that will never end. "Taking a while to warm up" is something that he can see an end too. It also works well for OTHER people. "He's a bit slow to warm up" is something people can understand. "He's shy" seems to drive a few people to "get him to open up". irked.gif

 

In the case of the teachers, I could see myself saying "Do you want to say hi to Teacher L? No? You don't feel like talking right now. OK, I can see you're not comfortable talking right now, maybe later." "Uncomfortable" again is temporary.


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#7 of 10 Old 02-11-2011, 05:17 PM
 
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Great answer, LynnS6! 

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#8 of 10 Old 02-13-2011, 03:52 PM
 
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Quote:
I also don't agree that the situation "requires" that she say hello back. I do know why people see it as rude to refuse to talk, but I dislike the way many adults treat children as some kind of captive audience. Kids haven't had a chance to learn to gracefully excuse themselves from a conversation, so they're stuck having to be "polite" as long as any given adult chooses to continue to inflict themselves on the child.


ITA with the above! My DD is 4 and she often needs a minute or two before she wants to interact with people. I would not discipline her for not talking to someone if she doesn't want to. If someone gives her something or asks her something, I will answer for her if she doesn't want to do so herself. After the fact we do talk about manners and I remind her that it is polite to say "thank you" or whatever. When she is older and more confident I am sure she will because that's what she sees me doing.

 

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#9 of 10 Old 02-15-2011, 06:12 AM
 
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Your little girl is only three and that behavior is quite age appropriate!  If someone gives something to her, I'd just say to her, "And you say, Thank You!"  At first you'll say this and she won't repeat it, which is fine.  That way the person has been thanked, and your child knows what's appropriate, and eventually as she gets older you'll prompt her in that way and she'll repeat it herself.  Once she's repeating you fairly regularly, you might prompt her and wait for a response, then if she's feeling too shy, you might ask, "Do you want me to say it for you this time?" And then thank the person, in the words you would like to hear her say one day.  Children learn through imitation, so if you model it for them really consistently, when she's ready she'll have all of the knowledge of what to say for herself.  I don't think there's any reason to be disapproving that she's not ready yet, as this will only generate anxiety around it for her.  However, you can be really consistent in saying things for her and giving her a chance to say them for herself.  She'll jump in when she's ready.

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#10 of 10 Old 02-15-2011, 06:19 AM
 
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I don't think you need to make kids say hi or thank you or anything. That puts pressure on them, and then they REALLY don't want to talk. If someone gives my son something, and he doesn't say thank you, I just say thank you. sometimes this reminds him and then he'll say it after me. As far as manners go, I think the most important thing in getting kids to have good manners is having good manners yourself.


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