Timeout With Nanny Robina: Teaching Your Four-Year-Old Good Manners

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Time Out With Nanny Robina
When my son turned four, he opened a birthday present that he didn’t like. In all the excitement, instead of being gracious he made a face. I was mortified. How can I ensure this doesn’t happen again at his fifth birthday?

It’s not too early to teach your son how to be grateful even when he doesn’t like the gift. Parents often assume that good manners will come naturally in time but the truth is, they don’t. Chat with your son. Explain to him that someone has taken the time and effort to choose a very special present for him and the right thing to do is to thank the person for the gift. Explain how
looking ungrateful or showing disappointment is not only bad manners, but also hurts the person’s feelings.
Remind him as you near the time of a birthday or other gift-giving occasion. Try keeping your son’s birthday parties from getting out of control by managing the pace more effectively so your
son doesn’t open presents in a frenzy. Many kids don’t handle birthday parties well because there is too much excitement. You might even consider having the birthday party and have your son open the gifts when all the visitors have gone. This would be kind to those who may be on a tight budget versus those who love to give extravagantly. But if you do that, be sure to have him thank everyone who attended with a phone call or note.

Published May 2010

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