Respecting Adults


My husband and I firmly believe in teaching our children to respect adults and display proper manners. Our two children, ages 4 (girl) and 6 (boy), are very social and outgoing at home and at school. They respect their teachers and are considerate of their peers. However, when we get together with our friends or extended family, they refuse to even acknowledge the adults. They hunch their shoulders, put their heads down, and won't even say "hello." Sometimes they act this way with other children that they haven't seen in awhile. We are not telling our children to hug anybody they don't feel comfortable with, just say "hello" and maybe even smile. In years to come, we will expect them to firmly shake the hands of the adults they meet and give proper eye contact. In some ways, we are grateful that they don't speak to adults because we feel they'd be very unlikely to speak to strangers. We have made it clear that these particular adults are safe to talk to because we are standing right there and we say it's okay. What is the appropriate action for us to take? Should we just let them be shy and not acknowledge aunts, uncles, our other adults? How do we teach them the "social graces" while still maintaining that they should never talk to strangers? Thank you for your help.

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