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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stranger Danger?

About six months ago, my previously outgoing daughter hit a new phase called "shyness".  I soon perceived that it was something she was doing for attention and it was working.  Then I realized how rude her behavior really was.  I expect my children to respect others and use good manners.  That means acknowledging when someone is speaking to you, looking them in the eye, and replying.  Not fake-screaming and running behind Mommy to hide.  And of course, every time she did this, the person trying to speak to her (often someone we know well) would laugh and ask her if she was shy.  Yup.  Thanks for giving my impressionable child a label to live up to.  So, using the same tactic my mom had used on my little sister when she was young, I used every opportunity to assure Princess that she wasn't really shy and that she was just pretending.  Pretending is okay sometimes, but you still need to be polite and use good manners when someone is talking to you.  When someone would label her as shy in front of her, I'd pull (wrestle!) her out in front of me and tell them that she most definitely was not shy.  After about a month, she was "cured" of her affliction.

Warning: I'm about to go off on a small tangent that really has nothing to do with this story, but is oh-so-helpful to know.

Kids will become whatever you tell them they are.  People told Princess that she was shy so she became shy until I told her that she was not shy at which point she turned into an outgoing child.  I've also noticed that when I tell Princess that she's such a good big sister and great helper, she tries even harder to be so.  So, if you want your child to be obedient, tell them how good they are.  If you want your child to be disobedient and disrepectful, tell him or her how naughty they are.  

Okay....back to the issue at hand.

I was so proud of Princess's progress until I realized that I've created a new problem.  She will now go up to a complete stranger and start telling them all about her life, our family life, where we live, what we drive, etc.  Thankfully, she doesn't have our social security numbers memorized yet.

I told her that it wasn't safe to talk to strangers.  Her response?
"That's okay, Mommy.  First I'll tell them my name and then I'll ask them their name.  Than they won't be a stranger and I can talk to them!"

I don't want her to be afraid to talk to people, including people she doesn't know very well, but she obviously needs to learn the line between too much and not enough.  How do I teach her that without turning her back into a shy child who won't even look at a close friend, let alone talk to them?  How do I teach her to look for me for guidance on who she can open up to and who just needs a simple hello or thank you?

Advice please!!! 

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