Dear Amy: My 4-year-old preschooler frequently has friends over who just astound me with their lack of any manners.
One little girl entered the house, announcing, “I'm the guest! Right, I'm the guest!” I suppose she thinks this entitles her to play with everything and anything.
As the play date progressed, she announced to me that she was hungry and asked what we had to eat.
I would be mortified if my child asked for food on a play date.
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I have repeatedly told her she may never ask, but may respond, “yes, please” or “no, thank you” if offered.
The worst thing is the mother had come over to chat at this point and stood by with a smile on her face.
What is wrong with people these days?
Perplexed in Connecticut
Dear Perplexed: Pronouncing a 4-year-old “rude” because she announces that she is “the guest” and then says she's hungry makes you seem, well, a little high-strung.
Other people's children have not been raised by you and bring their own behavior and manners – or lack thereof – into your household.
A preschooler who announces that she is “the guest” is most likely very excited to be in your home and is expressing that – and highlighting her special status with you.
I once had a 4-year-old come into my apartment on a play date, open the refrigerator, and poke around for a snack. She then told me that she has a special diet and pointed out all of the foods in our fridge that she could not possibly eat. Instead of proclaiming her rude, I decided that she was precocious. (She later educated us about her diet and I like to think I learned a thing or two.)
You can provide some guidance by asking some leading questions. What does it mean to be a “guest?” Is it a good idea to ask for food, or can you wait and see if something is offered to you?
Your own daughter has duties as a host – to be kind, generous, hospitable and forgiving. That goes for you, too.