refusing to say "hello" "goodbye" and "thank you" — The Bump

refusing to say "hello" "goodbye" and "thank you"

My 4-year old has decided he no longer wants to say "hello" "goodbye" or "thank you" to people who come over. Most recently it was yesterday, when my mother in law was taking care of him while he was home sick. He wouldn't give her a hug, say goodbye or say thank you when she was leaving. But it's par for the course for him. It's really disturbing to my DH and I because we've really worked hard on the kids' manners and I just don't want him to a) be rude and b) frankly, have it reflect on us as if we aren't teaching our kids manners. Has anyone else successfully dealt with this in a preschooler? It used to be no problem and our 2-year old loves hello and "bye bye" and says thank you all the time. It really bums me out.
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Re: refusing to say "hello" "goodbye" and "thank you"

  • Yeah, sounds like a power issue to me, he's asserting himself...I would wait & maybe just warn friends & relatives that he's going through a little no hi/bye/thank you phase, then it won't reflect on you. If he goes to school, maybe tell the teacher about it and see if she can encourage it in class to help reinforce, etc.
    I also am anti forcing hugs & kisses though if the kids clearly don't want to hug or kiss a family member I suggest a high five but I never require it. I have vivid memories of being told to kiss an uncle goodbye when I was under 5 and I hated it b/c of his facial hair and I still remember it LOL.
  • It's also perfectly normal for him to be going through this. The only thing you can do is make him feel the natural consequences of his refusal to acknowledge people. If he doesn't acknowledge someone who has already acknowledged him, then it is only natural for that person to move on to other conversation and DS won't get any attention. If he does not say thank you, then he does not get what he asked for or whatever good thing has been offered to him. It is his choice to speak. But he will learn social cues (hello, goodbye) from watching you and from the negative and neutral reactions he gets from people he meets when he does not acknowledge them. I think it is perfectly acceptable to invoke a consequence for saying "thank you," though. Only polite children get good things. If he does not ask politely, he does not receive. If he does not say thank you, he does not receive. Simple, not forceful.
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  • Eh -- sick kids sort of get a pass on weird stuff like this.  I say don't make a huge deal out of it, and see if he changes his mind when he's feeling better.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • We don't do any forced hugging or kissing (although my MIL definitely tries to force the issue for herself) and sorry if I indicated that the behavior only happened when he got sick - it's pretty much every time. I think though that you're right, we can model and prepare him but overemphasizing it is probably just not going to work.
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