Learning to make eye contact

My five-year-old is very shy, so when he meets new people he ducks his head and even if he says “hello” won’t look at the person he is meeting. My great aunt said this is rude, but I have no clue how to explain this to him. Any ideas?

Instead of telling him that he is rude, explain that it is good manners to look at the person who is greeting him, and then practice “meeting” him at home. To make it fun, be a character he knows from a story or show he watches, and teach him how to shake hands politely and say, “Hello, Doc McStuffins.” Then give him a secret task – to tell you afterward what color the person’s eyes are. This helps him focus on the other person, not himself.

 

When we are invited to dinner at someone’s home and there are wine glasses on the table, my husband, who doesn’t drink alcohol, immediately turns his glass upside down to show that he doesn’t want any. I find this embarrassing. Is it okay that he does this?

No, there is no need for him to do this because it makes a big deal announcement that he doesn’t drink. Instead, if someone is pouring, all he has to do is say, “Not today, thanks,” a statement that doesn’t sound judgmental about others who will enjoy a glass of wine.

 

Our sixteen-year-old daughter is inseparable from her cell phone. I get it, but believe there are times when she should put it down, especially at dinner. She arrives at the table and puts the phone by her place and looks at it frequently. Am I just being too critical when I ask her to remove it?

No, you are helping her understand the importance of good manners at all times. First, anything not having to do with food does not belong on the table, whether sunglasses or a cell phone. Second, when with other people, one’s attention should be on those people, not on someone sending texts. Only when one is expecting an urgent message should a cell phone be part of any meal, and that means really urgent. Otherwise, the phone should be anywhere but at the table.

 

I just put my foot in my mouth and feel awful about it, but don’t know what to do to undo what I said. I ran into someone I haven’t seen in awhile and asked her when her baby is due. She’s not pregnant.

This is a great lesson that it is better not to make comments about a person’s appearance, or ask personal questions, but it does happen, in all innocence and in a well-intentioned way. A way out of that particular comment would be to say, “Wow, you just look so great and healthy and glowing it was my first thought! Something wonderful must be happening to give you that glow and I’d love to hear about it!” And then never ask that question again!

Questions for Catherine? Send them to [email protected]

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