We all want our kids to be nice and pleasant when out in public. We teach them manners, we help them learn the difference between an “inside voice” and an “outside voice”, and we work with them on conversational words and phrases.
But what happens when they cross the line between appropriate and inappropriate interaction with strangers in public?
I think maybe it’s a good problem to have that Miles (who just turned 4) is speaking well and is confident enough to walk up to completely unknown people in stores and restaurants and start up a conversation, but at times it’s a little uncomfortable. He is lately asking women “How old are you?” and also demanding that people talk back to him before moving on.
I don’t want to scold him for speaking to people, because I’m glad he is being friendly and for the most part he isn’t being rude, he’s just being a four year old, but I’m still struggling with teaching him the more appropriate ways to approach and talk to people. I can’t help but worry that soon he’ll pull something out of my three year old playbook, asking an old man at church “Why don’t you have any hair?? What happened to your hair??”
A few weeks ago we went camping and he struck up a conversation with a young woman walking back to her campsite from the shower building. He proceeded to ask her if she had gone “potty” and then congratulated her on a good job! She did laugh and seemed charmed by him, but other people aren’t so enamored with him, especially when he touches them on the leg and sometimes (accidentally) in the, uh, crotchular region.
I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and advice on this stage of social growth in kids. What do you think about preschoolers striking up conversations with strangers in public?