Mommy SOS | Ms. Manners


Dear Mommas,

My almost three year old has decided she is now “shy” and won’t speak to people. I’m not asking her to have a conversation, but I am trying very hard to teach her nice manners. Hello, goodbye, thank you, you’re welcome, I’m 2 years old, etc.

However, instead of answering when someone says hello, she buries her head in my posterior so that I nearly fall over while trying to pull her away – thus creating quite the scene.

So how do I fix this? Bribery? Wait it out? Help!


Stumped in Scottsdale


  1. Oops! Hit submit too early 🙂 I tell persistent strangers that my child is feeling a little shy and then we move on! I dm curious to see what others have to say!

  2. We do a lot of talking about manners before and after a social situation – in a safe place for the kid (in the car, when it’s just us) because I personally don’t like to make a big deal out of “forcing” pleasantries during the situation itself (especially with the really young ones like B). So we talk before we go into a social situation about saying hello, looking people in the eye, and how it makes people feel good insides when we talk with them. Afterwards we might talk about how it’s okay to feel shy – everybody does – and how we can still be polite even if we feel shy. As for the head-in-posterior moment itself, I don’t know that you can do much but wait it out – at this young age especially. But I am looking forward to hearing other solutions too! 🙂

  3. My 4 year old is extremely shy. The biggest thing we have learned with her is to not push or bribe. When we tried to force her to talk she would stop talking to us. Bribes didn’t work as she would just tell us she was shy & still wouldn’t talk. So after a lot of reading & talking to teachers & friends we discovered if we asked her to smile or wave or shake her head it was a lot easier for her. Some kids just get overwhelmed by talking. My daughter used to bury her head in my leg too. Now she holds my hand & communicates in her own way. It still takes her awhile to warm up to friends & family but if people allow her to come in & feel comfortable she becomes for chatty! Hope this helps. Good luck!

  4. I agree that you should talk about manners before the situation, but if your daughter decides to be shy in the moment, make a quick comment to the other adult and move on. Be careful about your energy around it and don’t give her extra attention while she’s in this “shyness” state, otherwise she’ll learn that if she acts shy she receives extra attention. Good luck!

  5. I’m curious to see what moms say on this one. My 3rd girl is shy – she’s about 2 and a half. Nothing like her outgoing bubbly older sisters.

    With her, I think it’s part personality part…being 2! Things appear new and they are processing so much more. I think the best you can do is prepare her (as best you can) for situations and see how she responds. Unless it’s outright bad behavior, then I don’t think you pay much attention to it and keep consistent with giving her the opportunity to display her manners.

    Hoping this approach works with mine as well!

  6. I think a little shyness and withdrawal around strangers and people she doesn’t know well is healthy. I agree with the other moms, continue to talk about and demonstrate the manners that you want her to exhibit but when she is shy just let her be. It is a phase. She may have a real fear she is working through so dont force her to be social when she isn’t ready or your problem will worsen. Adults other than you and your spouse should respect when a child is feeling shy anyway and shouldn’t need an excuse as to why the child isn’t talking to them. I’m the mother of three with a very shy middle child.

  7. I agree with the idea of waving to acknowledge the other person without needing to talk! We also practice manners in situations where our kids initiate, such as ordering at restaurants. (sorry…I somehow cut off my earlier comment!)

  8. Definitely try to practice before exposing your daughter to social settings, so she knows what to expect and what’s expected of her. Telling her age and engaging in “small talk” is CRaZy with her sudden shyness, but maybe she can utter a soft “hi” or “bye” or “thank you” (maybe only one that you can hear, and can relay that to the intended person). My son went through a terrific shy spell for years and I wish I had “practiced” w/him a bit more b/c although it was fine at three and four, the lack of eye contact and speaking etc. got a bit old when he was seven and eight. Ugh. Now he’s 10 and finally doing great.

    Good luck!

  9. Thank you all for the great advice! We tried to talk about saying hello in the car before going into the dry cleaners and my expectations (say hello, don’t hide and at the very least, just wave). It seemed that having the alternative to wave rather than say hello made her comfortable enough to say hi! Thanks again 🙂


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