Monday 4 April 2016

Talking to Strangers (Adventures of L-Plate Gran)

As Little G and I continue our adventures together, I am becoming aware of a slight problem. She is a rather fetching child - ok, I am biased but I base the observation upon the number of comments I get every time I post a picture of her on Facebook, and the amount of people who try to engage with her in the street .... and here lies the aforementioned problem.

Little G  is not a great engager. Whenever she is accosted by someone, she adopts a thousand yard stare and plays dumb. This, however does not put the person off. They continue to chat to her, coax her, sometimes poke her playfully in the chest, until she responds.

I find it hard to deal with. On the one hand, I don't want her to be rude - people are only trying to be polite after all, (except for the pokers) and if somebody smiles at her or says hello to her in the street, or in a shop, I try to encourage her to say hello back.

And yet, as soon as she is old enough, she will be told NOT to speak to strangers, or go with them, or get in their cars, or accept sweets or food from them. It's a hard, cruel world, sadly. So how do I walk the fine line between insisting she is polite to adults, and making sure she does not grow up believing that every stranger she encounters has her best interest at heart?

To be continued ... .....


  1. It's a difficult balance isn't it? I always expected the adult would be sensible enough to maintain a "distance" indicating there was no relationship between them except a polite hello. It always annoyed me greatly when anyone was overly familiar, that confuses a small child who's not aware of boundaries.

    1. Exactly! If you tell the adult to back off, you risk a hurt/angry comment and you are teaching your charge to be 'rude' to well meaning people.

  2. I'm writing with my child protection hat on - she's much safer if she's instinctively cautious with strangers than if she's friendly. If she comes across as 'rude' maybe you can say something along the lines of her being very shy with people she doesn't know. And if well-meaning people don't back off, or nod in understanding, that's their problem.

  3. This is so difficult and I agree with Jo though it sounds as if Little G has just the right attitude in place to protect herself. All you can do is explain the shyness. My daughter refused point blank to get on the school bus when she started aged 4 1/4 stating that she didn't know who the driver was or where he was going to take her. This was nothing I had said to her but some sort of inbuilt protection sensor and it was months before she would agree to get on with all the other children.

  4. From all the wonderful posts you've shared with us Carol, I believe Little G to be a delightful, happy and beautiful little girl. She has also developed an uncanny appreciation for personal space. I agree with Jo, go along the 'she's shy around people she doesn't know' route but also be proud that she will have the strength to choose who she associates herself with when she's older. She might be quiet, but she's always listening!

  5. I agree with all of the above. As long as she's polite and responsive to people who visit you at home, then that's what matters. A natural reticence with strangers can only be a good thing in the long run.

  6. I have tried the 'she's a bit shy' thing today. It seems to work! Thanks!


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