Shy 3.5 Year Old


Hi John-

My 3.5 year old daughter is extremely shy with both other children and adults. My husband says he was this way as a child and he turned out just fine, so it's not something I am particularly worried about except when it comes to good manners. I think it is a reasonable to require that she greets people by saying "hi", says "goodbye" before they leave, and says "thank you" when appropriate. She will rarely do any of those things without significant prodding, and sometimes flat out refuses. Instead, she looks down at the floor and says nothing. This is the case both with strangers and with people that we know well and see often.

I am not sure how to handle these situations. Part of me thinks it's an obedience issue (I am telling her to say hello and she needs to obey), but part of me feels sympathy for how clearly uncomfortable she feels.

I was searching through past answers to questions like this, and found two answers that seem to say completely opposite things:

Here, to not pay attention to it:

And here, to discipline for it:

Which is it? Do we continue to insist that she say hello, goodbye, and thank you (and enforce consequences if she does not) or do we just let it go and hope that she becomes more confident on her own?

You're the best, John.


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