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My social bubbly almost 3-year-old was opening gifts at her party today with friends and family and when I went to give her a present from a new family friend who is 6 and a bit shy, she threw the bear on the floor and said, "No, I don't like this." The little girl's face was so sad. It hurt my feelings. Her grandmother and I scolded her in front of the little girl and I said "I wanted the bear."

She was still sad later and I tried to explain that my daughter is still like a baby , but I don't want to make excuses for her and wonder how to make her start to see that this hurts people. As for the little girl would a thank you and a picture of my daughter and the bear suffice or would the photo remind her of getting her feelings hurt?

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I'm not sure if this is a cultural/traditional thing but most of the parents I know tell children to open their gifts later (after their friends have left) precisely because of this reason. Young kids can be quite frank and it's not really nice to scold them on their b'day in front of their friends so it's better to open the gifts later when you are alone and the kids would listen to you.

We let the b'day kid know in advance that they need to wait till their friends leave and we make sure to plan more activities so that all other kids kind of forget about the gift opening/comparing. Later on, when the gifts are opened, we have enough time to remind them to thank their friends for gifts (whether they like it or not).

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I am working through something similar with my daughter, and unfortunately there is no easy answer. I recommend explaining to her that her action hurt the other child's feelings and ask her how she would feel if that happened to her. Then you'll have to repeat the same lesson with patience again many times. After a while it will sink in, but it will take a while as empathy takes time to develop.

  • Great point. I find that it helps to bring up an example that they can relate to in addition to "ask her how she would feel if that happened to her". – doctordonna Jan 25 '18 at 1:18
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    Once she's grasped that the other girl's feelings were hurt, I would ask the 3-year-old if she has any ideas for helping the 6-year-old feel better. What she comes up with might have a lot more meaning to another child than you sending a picture. – Ossum's Mom Jan 26 '18 at 17:45
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As sad as it is, kids are mean, and it is our job as adults to slowly teach them to be good people. Of course that won't be over night, instead you will be busy for the next 15 years at least, to show her how to be nice.

At the point you are now, there is nothing unusual, she is young and doesn't understand, that she might hurt somebodies feelings by acting out that way. The only thing that you can do is tell her strongly that she hurt someones feelings and that, this is a bad thing. Since that already happened, there is not much that you can do.

On the other side the 6 year old also needs to understand, that a 3 year old acts mostly out of impulses and doesn't understand that a gift is also a social gesture.

So next time, scold her, explain the 6 year old, that a 3 year old doesn't understands things as she does. If there is still tears (and there will be ...) it is sadly part of learning for kids, the same way a toddler doesn't understand the concept of "hot don't touch" until the burns make it clear.

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    do not roll back that edit. It was to remove needless offensive language. – Rory Alsop Jan 25 '18 at 22:29
  • There was nothing offensive on it. I used stronger wording, nothing else, and how do you even get that fat to say, that something is needless. How can you claim to know if I see it as necessary to make a certain point stronger or clearer. – Etaila Jan 26 '18 at 14:45
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    As a community we don't accept that sort of language. You need to adhere to our rules on this. – Rory Alsop Jan 26 '18 at 14:53

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