19 answers

My 3/Y Is Impolite

My three-year old son doesn’t like saying hello to other people. We all give a cheery greeting when we meet someone I know and we also ask our son to do so. However, he doesn’t follow our example and when he meets someone, he always makes his finger look like a gun and aims at that person. I have tried giving him some punishment like time out and it seems no use. I want my son to be cute, lovely and polite, and I can’t figure out any proper and effective way to correct our son’s this behavior. Please help me.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

He is doing this as protective mechanism and it is his own internal warning, that he does not know this stranger. This is actually good.

He is leery and does not want them to come any closer. He does not want any interaction with them.. Maybe instead of using his finger like a gun, get him to do a peace sign. Work with him without punishment. He is still very young and this is a reaction rather than an action.

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He just sounds shy. I would give him a chance to grow into this one in his own time. He is still really young and it sounds like he has good role models... so even if he isn't participating... he is watching and observing. Personally, I would make a bigger issues out of please and thank you's than greeting people. Just tell him that you would like him to learn how to be more comfortable saying HI to people, however you are not going to push it right now... however... he is not allowed to pretend to shoot people as a way to greet them. Doing some role playing with toys/puppets etc. should help this out and give him some practice without the anxiety.

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He's three and he's still very much in the "I'll do what I want phase".

I would suggest that you continue modeling the expected behavior, but don't put him on the spot to do the same. His behavior is telling you that he's not comfortable greeting a stranger. Just because you know the person doesn't mean that your child recalls who they are. I have noticed that our son (2.5) takes a good 10 minutes to "warm up" to people he doesn't see on a daily basis. If we come across someone, I don't force him to say hello b/c he won't. If someone comes to visit, he will run to the other room until he figures out who they are... then it's all charm and chat!

For just a minute, think about the fact that we ask our children not to talk to strangers, but expect them to greet someone new with enthusiasm. Kind of a mixed message.

4 moms found this helpful

He is doing this as protective mechanism and it is his own internal warning, that he does not know this stranger. This is actually good.

He is leery and does not want them to come any closer. He does not want any interaction with them.. Maybe instead of using his finger like a gun, get him to do a peace sign. Work with him without punishment. He is still very young and this is a reaction rather than an action.

3 moms found this helpful

Children are all so different. My son used to kick people when they bent down to say hello and how cute he was when in the stroller. Imagine their surprise! I was so embarrassed! I started to think he was possessed!! Turns out he was afraid, since they scared him, he wanted to scare them back and make them go away and leave him alone.Well it worked! When he was old enough to understand we talked about it until then I protected him from certain situations. He is shy but he is no longer rude.He joins in at his own pace when he is comfortable. Hes come a long way and always says hello now and has good manners.

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My 3 1/2 year old daughter and I play "puppet" where I use a stuffed animal and we go through the whole routine, "Hi little girl, what's your name?" Etc etc. She thinks its a riot. I use it to practice things like "How old are you?" "What's your brother's name?" "What is your address?" "What is your Mommy's name?" etc. This will sound kooky, but we do this while she is sitting on the toliet before bed.

I've noticed that they also practice this at school, where they shake hands and say good morning. I try to role play that with the puppets, too. Slowly, slowly, she's getting it down.

I think kids are naturally shy at this age and its a phase that will pass.

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Threes are really young still. I told my son at four a few of the things he did at three and he thought we were crazy and making it up. If this is the worst of your three year old's behavior, you are very very fortunate. Three's often are a HANDFUL.

It's a phase and will pass. If you want, just hold his hand when saying hello. that way he can't do the gun point. Also speak for him as if you are him. Somehow that makes perfect sense to kids and they pick up on it and start doing it as if they had been doing that all the time. (that also worked really well at the 4 yr mark where they start giving threats and ultimatums. Speak what they should be speaking and they come around better than trying to punish - because they now know what TO DO and aren't floundering around without any ideas.)

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Ignore it. He is probably being shy and does't know how to act. Mine used to meow like a cat then purr. It was really annoying.
Keep showing him how to greet and speak to people and he will learn to do the same in his way.
If you punish thus behavior he will continue because he is really getting a lot of attention for it, I'm sure the person says something and then you punish, lots of reinforcement, albeit negative.

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He's still young. He may be doing the gun thing in retaliation for the pressure to be friendly and social when he may be scared or shy. Maybe if you let up on the pressure for him to be Mr. Cute the gun trick will stop on its own. I would not let him continue with the gun thing though--I would find it obnoxious too. At 3 he should be able to understand the expectation that pointing your finger like a gun is rude to other people because real guns hurt people and when you pretend to point a gun it offends people. Make your expectations clear about him not doing that and tell him it is normal to be nervous around new people but that is not acceptable. See if you can come up with a better alternative if he is shy. You can teach him to do that alternative instead (even just turning toward you and gripping your hand).

2 moms found this helpful

He's not impolite, he's 3 (LOL). Don't punish him, just keep modeling the behaviour. It'll get better. Redirect the gun thing - say that's for playtime, not "say hello" time. One thing you have to realize is that you can't determine your son's personality. You can teach him to be polite, but that's it - he may not be the "cute and lovely" type - and that's ok. Just keep modeling. My son has started attending pre-school part time, and I found he learned manners there very quickly because of the greater exposure to others who are ALSO learning. And the "hi" thing may also be a personality thing - my son is VERY outgoing so he does it naturally, but sometimes he doesn't want to.

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