3 year old and manners? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Thread Tools
#1 of 5 Old 06-24-2011, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
abqbabylove's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 19
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Hi there. I've read various posts in different places about people not wanting to teach their children manners, along the lines of not wanting to force them to do something, but rather to have them take the initiative themselves. (For example, why force a child to say "I'm sorry" if they don't really mean it). I'm not sure if this is exactly the gist of it - please feel free to elaborate if you want!

Anyway, I do think that manners are important, at least in saying "please" and "thank you" and it's never really been that much of an issue. But I'm not sure how to address something with my ODD, who is 3 (almost 4). Whenever we are out and about, people always smile at her, say hello, complement her on something she's wearing, etc... Now, I would never force her to hug someone, or have a whole conversation, etc., but I do think it's appropriate for her to respond with a "hello" or a smile or a "thank you." Especially because it's often elderly people who are talking to her, and you get the sense that they don't have much interaction and they truly delight in seeing a child. I've tried to talk to her about it, and say that if she's with me, it's okay to say hello back, or to respond by saying "I don't feel like talking right now" if that's the case. Often, she frowns at people or says "NO!" and runs away. This isn't an occasional occurrence, it happens all the time. She's a fairly shy kid, and I think this is her defense mechanism. Usually I just smile apologetically at people. I mean, she is 3. But still....does anyone else have a kid like that? What strategies do you use? Anyone else have insights or advice on how to handle this situation?

Lady Named Carlos

abqbabylove is offline  
#2 of 5 Old 06-25-2011, 07:19 AM
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,664
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 119 Post(s)

Oh, yes, I have a child like that. I can relate, especially about the elderly thing.  It's hard when you know your child could make some lady's day, ha?  


I would say that 3-4 is a good age to start helping your child with this, especially if it's important to you and your family.  I would look at it as a very slow process though so you don't get disappointed and/or expect too much of your child.   


Get deep into what you want and why.  Do you want you child to interact with people because you know that will make them happy?  Because friendly interactions with strangers is an important value in your family?  Because being polite and friendly when out in public is something you think is important in our culture?  


Figure that out and then try to accomplish that.  Model that behavior for your child.  Do that for about 6 months.  Then I would start talking to her and asking her if she is able to participate.  If she is maybe ask her to suggest ways that she can participate.  Think outside the box.


I don't know if this perspective is something you're interested in.  Having been there and being of the mind that being friendly is important...at the same time as honoring your child's comfort level, I just say it's a process.  



Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#3 of 5 Old 06-25-2011, 11:06 AM
lisavark's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 867
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My daughter is exactly the same. People say, "she's so cute," and she says, "NO! I'm NOT cute!" and runs away. It's terrible. 


A few weeks ago my mother (who babysits regularly and how DD ADORES) talked to DD about it. She brought it up at a time when DD was happy and calm and no incident had happened, and she talked about how the proper, "princessy" thing to do (I tried to avoid the princess thing, but wow, it must be instinctive for three year olds! LOL!) is to curtsy and say, "thank you!" They practiced it together and my mom pretended to be a stranger admiring DD, and DD curtsied and said, "thank you!" 


And ever since then, DD has done that every time someone has said something like that. It blew my mind the first time it happened. There I was bracing for an angry yell of I'M NOT CUTE, and instead DD curtsied (curtsied?!?!) and said in the sweetest little voice, "thank you!" 


I'm pretty sure this is because my mom is just plain magic, because I had had this conversation with DD before and it hadn't helped at all. I hadn't made such a game of roleplaying it, however. So maybe that would help you too! Or maybe you have a magic grandmother who can help? ;) 

Mama to DD, my 2/24/08 BIG KID formerly known as sling baby, and DS, my 12/23/11 train-loving, wall-climbing toddler! 
lisavark is offline  
#4 of 5 Old 06-25-2011, 11:56 AM
donutmolly's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Crunchyville
Posts: 705
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Wow!  I just love this -- can you send Grandma over here?!


OP, my 3.5 yo is also very shy around strangers (a complete personality shift when she turned 3, before she was very outgoing) and I usually answer for her.  At this age, I really don't expect her to change her behavior as it's clear that strangers talking to her make her very nervous.  My 6yo and I are able to talk about being polite and friendly to strangers (especially nice old ladies) and accepting compliments gracefully.  She's still working on it, but at this point I feel like she's developmentally ready to respond politely.  The 3 yo gets a pass.

Mama to 4 girls    chicken3.gif5/05, 12/07, 9/09, 3/11   winner.jpghomeschool.gifhomebirth.jpg

donutmolly is offline  
#5 of 5 Old 06-25-2011, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
abqbabylove's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 19
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Thanks for the advice, ladies. @Identitycrisismama - yes, it's good to keep in mind that this will be a process - probably a long one!


@lisavark - that is GENIUS!! I, too, have avoided the princesses, but DD loves them, and I've used them to my advantage in the past - I even have a blog post about it! (See Got Sleep? if you're interested.) I think that is a great way to talk to her about manners! I do have a magical grandma, too, maybe I'll see if she can help me out! wink1.gif Thanks for the tip!


@donutmolly - yes, it's good to keep things in perspective age-wise. Thanks!

abqbabylove is offline  

Quick Reply
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off