My Son Does Not Take Direction from Adults He Does Not Know

Updated on April 10, 2010
S.L. asks from Philadelphia, PA
7 answers

my son is 3 years old. he is very shy with other adults besides his family that he see's all the time. when he is at daycare his babysitter tells me that he does not talk to her at all. he only shakes his head yes or no some of the time, although he will play and interact with the children. she told me that she asked my son if he wanted to color with the other children and go over flashcards with them and he refused. khali will be starting preschool in the fall and i want him to be more social with adults because he needs to follow their direction in school, i also want him to participate in activities with children more, constructive activy such as coloring, listening to a story, etc. please help

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So What Happened?

thank you everyone for ur suggestions, as he progresses i will keep u all informed. i think that my son is naturally a shy child. so are me and his father so i think he gets it honestly. what i worry about is him being in school and not wanting to participate and in turn the teacher is asking me if khali has anything wrong with him socially. i think the suggestion of meeting the teacher before hand is a great idea, thank u for ur answers ladies

More Answers


answers from Savannah on

Hey S.,

Personally, I think its a good thing that your son is naturally cautious with adults he doesn't know. I see ho this is going to pose a problem soon - but I do think its good.

Do you know where he is going to preschool yet? I taught preschool for a few years and I'm a big fan of meeting shy students a few times before they begin classes at the school. If you know for sure where he will be going, maybe you could find out which room he will be in and talk to his future teacher - I've had lots of moms do that before.

Its been my experience that the mom would call my room or even email me and explain to me that her child is very shy or has never been to school or daycare before - and we would work out a few times to meet either at school or at a park or something, and have just an hour or so of face-to-face time with Mom there... it made transitioning a lot smoother for most.

Just a suggestion. Also - once he does get into preschool and gets used to his teacher, he may mellow out some. Especially if you were to volunteer occasionally and let him see you and his teacher chatting and what not.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

Hi, S.:
Your son is 3 years old. Three year old children are mastering their environments. I wouldn't be too concerned about this behavior right now.

As long as he is not aggressive, don't worry.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I agree with Beth- if your son is developing normally in all other ways, this just sounds like his personality! To be shy with adults is VERY common for a lot of little kids- better that than too trusting of strangers!

I think your daycare sitter needs to do more than just make suggestions that he play with the other kids though. Is it a big daycare? How many kids? Are they all the same age? Other than not playing with others, does he seem to be happy there and go to daycare willingly?

I would suggest a couple of one on one playdates at home too, where he and another child have something they can both do.

A LOT of kids at this age like to engage more in 'side by side' play - where they are both doing the same thing, but not interacting , just next to each other, rather than what we might consider 'play' in an older child with more interaction. Even story time is 'side by side' - kids are all listening to the story together, but they aren't really doing anything with each other while it is going on.

Introducing your son to one child to play with at a time or a new place or activity one on one might be less overwhelming for him that trying to join an active, boisterous group. Find a story time at the library for your sitter to take him to, just to get him used to sitting in a group with other kids. Set up playdates with one kid at a time and give them crayons and a giant sheet of paper to color on.

See if you can get his daycare provider on board with a more specific approach to getting him to play with one or two kids she thinks he might especially like or get along with. But don't worry- he just sounds like a shy kid, but that isn't a bad thing! My fiance was a shy kid and is still a very quiet person. He isn't antisocial or anything- just quiet!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Alot of this is age and personality. :-) Neither of which you can do anything about...
He will find some adults he is comfortable with but it will probibly take some time for him to get comfortable.
My 2nd child is the same way (boys are not as vocal as girls) He is almost 6 and will speak to other people NOW... But until he turned 5 he was really shy. Even now at times he will mumble his answers or get that sucking on his lips look while hiding his face. (Usually when mommy or daddy is there).
My 3 yr old (boy) is more likely to nod and shake his head in response to someone he doesnot know well than to speak... Some kids have a very out going personality, others are more withdrawn and self protective. It does not mean there is anything WRONG with your child... You know his personality and what is normal for your family...

Keep an eye on it and be thankful that you don't have a 3 yr old that runs up to everyone and starts telling them all the stuff they heard you and daddy talking about...

In school he will follow the "group" more than have 1 on 1 time with the teacher...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on


I just wanted to let you know that my daughter is the same way. She is started preschool when she turned 3 last December. Before that my sister in law watched her. She had no problems with my sister in law, but like your son she's always been shy around adults she doesnt know. Anyway, she did not talk hardly at all for probably the first month or so that she went to preschool. She did talk to the other kids some, but hardly at all to the adults. But, she did like school from the beginning and I knew because she told us she did and she constantly wanted to play school at home. But, when she was there, she just sat back and observed everything that was going on for a while. She is the type of kid who will stand back and take it all in before jumping in and trying something.

Anyway, she is doing great there now! She talks to the teachers and has lots of friends there. Her teachers say that she is just one of the kids now. So, it took her a little longer than a lot of kids to get completely comfortable, but she got there and she really loves it there.

I'm sure your son will get there too!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Allentown on

Has your son been at this daycare for longer than 1 month? Does he speak to the other children? The reason I ask these questions is I work with a child with Selective Mutism who only talks at home and with family members in their homes but has never uttered a word in the three years he has been at preschool. He plays with the other children and interacts although only non-verbally. He has started talking with mom in stores now but has never talked with another non-family adult outside the home. For ex. in the checkout line when the cashier says "Hello" or at the doctor's office, etc. Very bright little boy who knows his alphabet and the sounds they make, has wonderful intelligent conversations with me in the home environment but I can only get him to whisper to me at school when we are isolated in another room and no one else is in earshot. This problem is usually not identified until preschool/school age and I am certainly NOT saying that is what YOUR child is experiencing from the little bit you described but I just wanted to make you aware, if this continues, it is something you can investigate.



answers from Erie on

I whole-heartedly agree with the other responses so far. One question I have for you, though, is... what interaction your son has with adults in your company? I think that our boys are unusually social with adults, and my husband and I attribute some of that to the adults that we socialize with. As a (very extroverted) full-time mom, I crave a lot of adult interaction. We have often invited friends over for dinner, football on TV, or any other excuse. Our boys see us interacting with other adults, and they learn to meet new people on their own turf (where they feel safe). While it may not be feasible to invite your child care provider or pre-school teacher to your home, it may help to have another adult or two over to your house whenever possible. Just a thought ;)

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