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3 Steps in Social Etiquette for Preschoolers

by Joe Lawrence | May 19th, 2015 | Behavior, Preschool

little girl (400x400)Recently, I went to the store with my preschooler and I learned that she was very honest on her assessment of others. Not only was she honest, she was loud in proclaiming it. Her comments revealed to me that we have some work to do in teaching her about social etiquette.

The words “Daddy her hair looks gray, but she tries to dye it anyway” flowed from the mouth of my princess as this woman walked past us. I know she heard the comment and you could tell she felt upset, but was trying to act like it did not happen. I felt pretty bad and was not sure what to do. An apology from my daughter would only force the woman to acknowledge the comment she was pretending never happened. Instead, I turned to a mentoring moment.

At first I was very angry. I scolded her and told her that it is not nice to talk about people and if she felt the need to say something to whisper it me. She was very confused on what she did wrong.

When I saw the sadness in my little girl’s eyes, it made me realize that she had no clue she was being hurtful. I then gathered my wits and further explained:

1) The truth hurts. Even though something might be true, the comment could hurt someone’s feelings. I do not want my daughter to be afraid to speak her mind; however, finding the balance is tricky. This is something I explained in length to her with examples of things that might be true, but could hurt someone’s feelings.

2) Is it beneficial? Will saying this truth help the person? If saying this comment will help a person, it is ok to say. For example: “Ma’am, you have a spider on your back.”

3) Motives. Why are you saying this? We push the universal Christian principles of loving your neighbors as you love yourself and the Golden Rule. Are you saying this comment to be mean? Then do not say this. If the message is meant to be a compliment or helpful advice, it is ok to share the comment.

There may be things that I am missing in my teachings, but these were the big three for me to impart onto her. Bottom-line is that five-year olds have no social etiquette when it comes to these things and it is our job to guide them.

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