Yesterday was one of those trying days as a parent.

The three of us went to the Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival. It's a great outdoor craft show {that I'd like to do next year} in a pretty neighborhood. There are also activities for children - like moon bounces, sand art and face painting. Sounds like a nice thing to do as a family, right?

Jimmy and I told Malayna about it a few days ago and she {seemed} really excited about it. We've been to the Festival a few times, so she knew what to expect. When we got there, however, she couldn't quite cope. I visited a few friends who had booths there and Malayna would not say hello or stop giving dirty looks. No matter how hard we try, we can't MAKE her be polite. It's so frustrating! How hard is it to say hello? I certainly model positive behavior for her - I never walk up to someone and say, "I don't want to talk to you!" Sure, I give people dirty looks sometimes, but never when they're smiling at me and saying hello!

I can tell she's uncomfortable when meeting new people {unless they have a baby or a dog with them}. At this point, I'd be happy if she would just stop glaring at people. She doesn't have to say hello yet - we can work on that later. I'm not sure how to react when she acts like this. I'll admit - I'm not consistent. Sometimes I can blow it off and say something like "she needs a little time to warm up" {um, like a few weeks}. But other times, like yesterday, I just can't tolerate it and it puts me in a foul mood. I'm sure it was because my expectations didn't meet the reality.

Even though we know she can't handle large crowds, we continue to try to take her on outings like this. Should we stop? I don't know. I don't want to give her that much control -we're the parents! On the other hand, do we just put up with it and hope it gets better? I know that I need to learn better ways of coping with this behavior. But she's almost 4 years old - shouldn't she be expected to be polite and greet people when she sees them? Or are my expectations too high?

The day did get better - after we had been there for about an hour, she seemed to warm up. Then again, she didn't have to talk to anyone at that point. We had given up on expecting her to say hello and we put the sunshade down on her stroller so no one would look at her. Worked like a charm!


Anonymous said...

Wow- I am sorry that you had such a crazy day! It is so frustrating having no control over your kid, isn't it?? When Aidan (who is 3 1/2) says no to us, which seems like it is almost all of the time lately, I don't know what to do. Sometimes, it just seems there is no amount of coaxing or bribery that can get them to do what you want. Such are the the joys of parenting!

ahna said...

Have you tried reverse psychology? Maybe roll-play with her on how to say "hi" to someone when you meet them, but then say something like," Of course, you are still too little to do that. When you get older, you will be ready to say hello to new friends. Until then, you can come with Mom and Dad to the _____. We are going to say hello to lots new people because we are older and we are really excited to say 'hi' to our friends, but don't have to say hi to anyone until you are a little older."
It could work on so many levels: It lets her off the hook, and doesn't give her the power to push your buttons anymore (That face would get a great reaction from me - it did when Nonni went through this.) That - you're not old enough - thing works like a charm in our house. Also, by role playing, the kids get a chance to practice before they are put in a situation that might be a little weird.
Don't know if that helps. You've probably done it all before... good luck! :-)

lisa {milkshake} said...

Thanks, Wendy! Here's hoping 4 is better than 3...

Ahna, I haven't tried that yet! I'm curious to see if it would work - she's perfectly happy to NOT be big enough. One of her favorite activities is to pretend she's a baby.

I'm afraid that if I use that line on her it'll backfire on us. But I AM willing to try. I'll let you know if it works!

We have used role-playing in the past. I'll have to do it again - it's been awhile.

Thanks for your ideas!

Galadriel Thompson said...

We use the system of bribe and robbery. Not really, but we struggle with the same issue. This is what has worked for us. We have had the same talk with our kids that you have had with Malayna. We then proceed to tell them that for each time they remember to be polite they can expect a treat or a fun time sometime later that day. They have a great time tallying up all the times they were polite and usually start having a conversation with us or each other about their experiences. When we give them their treat or play a special game with them we casually comment on their actions and responses and tell them how good it made us and the other person feel. And so on and so on...
The best part is that they get caught up in being polite and a lot of the time forget all about the deal!
Good luck sweet little lady! Malayna is a doll by the way.

Galadriel Thompson said...

Oh, and another thing...do be blue little lady. Thanks for your comment on my Bug guts and Cadillac post. I'm a wallower too. I've gotten better, but I have tons of work still to do. Hope you're feeling better and send me a shout out when you're down in the dumps. I'll tell you a dirty joke to take your mind off of the crummies: )

Galadriel Thompson said...

Um, I meant don't be blue. Sorry about that.

lisa {milkshake} said...

Haha. Being blue is okay sometimes!