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Parenting K-6 Kids/4 year old. To "force" manners?


I have a 4 year old daughter who starts JK in September.
She is shy around others. Not only new people but people she has met before, even kids, she sometimes isn't herself around them. She is so happy and bubbly at home! (With the common 4-year old attitude too!)

Here are some Of the examples I have run into:
At a restaurant today a child who goes to the same daycare as her ended up being there at the same time. He said hello and waved at her. My daughter hung her head and ignored him. He persisted and said hello trying to get her attention, asked if she was ok even, and she kept ignoring him and not even looking at him. She told me it was because he was a "big kid". But I know for a fact this is a well liked, well behaved child at the daycare. She sai he has never been mean to her either.
- I told her to say hi to him and she said no. I told her we would leave then, and she said she was fine with that.

Also, another time I picked her up from daycare and she left her stuffed animal in the class. A boy ran out to give it to her and she took it from him and wouldn't say thank you. She ignored him and made a mean looking face.

Another example is when she was playing soccer and a girl from the other team came over to her to ask if she was ok because she didn't want to play the game anymore. She just wanted to sit with me. So the other girl kept asking if she was ok and my daughter ignored her and wouldn't reply.

Do I force her to be polite and speak to these kids? It even happens with adults, like a lady at the grocery store said hello to her and she turned away.

I don't force her to say hello to strangers and I never force her to hug/kids family if she doesn't want to.

What do you think?


Hi Mandy,
Thank you for writing. Your four year old (as well as 5-6 year olds) Have not developed social skills yet, When you ask her to be social and tell her to say thank-you this may embarrassed her when everyone is looking at her. She knows something is wrong but may not understand what it is yet.
She is beginning to make choices about what she wants to do or say. (Example wanting to sit with you, allow her to do that.  She feels safe with you.

It appears as you said she is shy, after teaching kindergarten (The same as JK I think :) these children were late 4-5 year olds they exhibited the same type behavior, once they got  used to the other children they fit right in.
She is testing the waters. She is not sure of herself yet. I would not force her to talk when she does not want to talk, but I would insist on her using her manners. ( Model, practice and discuss this at home.)

(Example)The little boy with the stuffed animal, perhaps you could have thanked him and discussed it with her when you got home and she was settled in. Explaining that he was being kind to her and when a person is kind we always use our best manner which shows we are being kind back.

You can practice this at home and praise her when she does it.( Make a point of using manners and praising her at home or when you are out when she does uses her manners). Give her hugs and verbal praise.  It may take a little while before it begins to work. "Be patient with her"

I have a few questions please:
Is she the only child or does she have siblings? If so ages please. Did she just turn four? Is dad in the home? (Please let me know)

Mandy, she may have a difficult time at school for the first few weeks if she is very shy, but she will adjust and make friends in time. The teacher should be able to handle that. She will get better as she matures.

I hope this response was helpful, please feel free to write back if you have any other questions or statements.
Dr. Swaby  

Parenting K-6 Kids

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Dr. Mabel J. Swaby


I can answer questions about Pre-K 5th grade. How to listen and talk to your child.Discipline that makes sense and much, how to understand your childs behavior and more. I am able to answer questions about teens,as well I have worked sucessfully with teens in foster care and a teen center, I have a great understanding of teens behavior.


I am retired teacher.(2005)and administrator. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate(CASA) with the Juvenile Court for the past 6 years. Working with children and teens in foster care. I am a S.T.E.P.( Systematic Training For Effective Parenting) Parent Educator, and I am preparing to conduct workshops in my community.

Masters in Early Childhood Education/Certification in instructional Leadership Court Appointed Special Advocate(CASA) (Volunteer) S.T.E.P Parent Educator/Leader-(Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) Parent-Aide Oasis Counseling Center

Awards and Honors
Teacher of the Year Judical Commendation Award from the Juvenile Court

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