Introverted three year old and family get togethers
July 6, 2014 12:36 PM Subscribe
My introverted three year old refuses to engage at family gatherings. But how do I teach her to be polite? And what exactly is going on in her head?
posted by Omnomnom to Human Relations (40 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I like to believe that I am fairly attuned to what is going on in my child's feelings and thoughts. But this is a bit baffling, so please share your insights! Also, how I should react if I want to get her to behave like a polite human being? Thank you!
My three year old is an introvert, child of introverts. No question about it. I'm used to her hanging back when meeting strange people, or too many people, or hiding behind me when she is in the spotlight (when asked a question and then everyone stares at her expectantly, for instance.). Whatever. She's doing great in kindergarten, and to my surprise even enjoyed her birthday party there (cake and singing).
But I am baffled why she acts up so much when we have family get togethers. We're talking about grandpa and grandma, grandma2, great aunt and uncle. And us. We see them every two weeks as a group! My kid spends the day with grandma and grandpa twice a week and sees grandma2 once a week, and she loves them individually.
But as soon as we are in a group, she hides her face in my lap, clings to me and squrims and moans instead of saying hello. No hellos, no thank yous, no direct responses, only unhappy snarling. Eventually she opens up, but prefers to snag one grown up from the group and go away with that person to play in private. She absolutely hates sitting at the table with everyone and prefers to eat no cake at all (!) rather than eat it with everyone. She even hated it when we all sang happy birthday for grandpa!
She did all this today, despite spending the whole morning talking about grandpa's birthday, and drawing him a lovely birthday card.
- she hates being the center of attention, which she is when her family is around her.
- she may be a little jealous as well, though, because her seven month old sister is of course snagging a lot of attention herself and seems to utterly enjoy it. The behaviour predates baby sister, but may have gotten worse. Maybe.
- she doesn't like great aunt for incomprehensible toddler reasons. Great aunt is the most discrete person I know, and pretty much lets her be, while making low key overtures and giving presents once in a while.
- I get the impression she's hamming it up a little. Like, she found something that works, she's getting something out of this, but what? More attention?
Given all this, what's my best strategy? I don't need her to be sociable, or eat cake with us or whatever, but I do want her to observe basic manners. This whole "Arrrrgh don't look at me don't talk with me" thing is getting old. And I think three years old is a point where I can expect a bit more.