I care for a three-year-old child that is generally very well mannered and a joy to care for. He takes after his dad in his morning attitude though (both of them need a little time to "wake-up" even after they are awake. Of course, his Dad still has good manners, but is self- admitting that his son takes after him in this realm).

I'm okay with giving the three-year-old a little time (after-all, he is three) before he has to greet me politely - I know he will once that little brain switches on and then it is go go go with all kinds of love and good manners until about half an hour before nap-time.

However, the boy's parents are (rightfully and I am thankful for this) very concerned that he exhibit good manners toward me as well as themselves even right at the time of waking.

Should he get 20-30 minutes grace period while transitioning from sleep to wake-fullness AND transitioning from mom and dad to me all at the same time? All he does for this first thirty minutes after waking up is watch a cartoon and hug mommy and daddy good-bye (and on some mornings - though not consistently, argue with mom and dad about whether he should say good morning to any of us yet).

I think it is important to understand - I get this kid, I set my alarm half an hour earlier than everyone else in the house, so I can have a little time to wake without having to talk to anyone as an adult (of course if someone is up, I can say good morning and still function politely, but I am also not a three-year-old boy).

Once it is time to have breakfast and get dressed, then of course it is down to business and I fully expect manners - I guess I see this cartoon 30 minutes as a sort of extension of his sleep and don't mind if he pretends I'm not there until the TV goes off and he is saying good-bye to mom and dad.

I have not contradicted the parents, but I also am choosing not to join in at this point either. I feel like it is a losing battle, and it starts the morning with a bunch of stress for everyone. I wind up awkwardly being there waiting for the "good morning" he just isn't ready to give. Thoughts?

  • Good Q b mama, If I wasn't so flat out, I'd love to write some answers +1
    – user21179
    Nov 3, 2013 at 4:49
  • 1
    Hey @Skippy how can I make it less "flat out" so you feel you can answer it? Nov 3, 2013 at 16:34
  • This is something the parents should be promoting, it shouldn't be your job? Nov 3, 2013 at 17:13
  • @balancedmama you talked me into it :) I hope it's orderly, I rambled a bit. let me know
    – user21179
    Nov 3, 2013 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


Firstly, you've got it in a nutshell here:

I guess I see this cartoon 30 minutes as a sort of extension of his sleep and don't mind if he pretends I'm not there until the TV goes off and he is saying good-bye to mom and dad.

It also seems that part of his ignoring of you is not having to face that Mum and Dad are leaving. I'm not sure how long you've been with him, but you're a sharp reminder that Mum and Dad are leaving.

All he does for this first thirty minutes after waking up is watch a cartoon and hug mommy and daddy good-bye

It seems counterproductive for his parents to be pushing this issue. If he is an, otherwise, well mannered child, I would not make an issue of it. There would be better ways to deal with it. Once they have asked him to say good morning and he doesn't, they have dug themselves a bit of a pit, knowing how he typically reacts.

When asking children to do something, I think it's important to set them up to succeed as much as possible, as there are just so many battles of will with children, there is no need to walk into a situation knowing it's going to be a struggle and there comes a point when one must ask, is it worth it?

One of the most important things a parent of carer can do is choose their battles. Just because he is tired, very young, and obstinate in the mornings for 20 - 30 minutes (which may be exacerbated by his parents leaving), I wouldn't let a battle over this spoil, an otherwise, uneventful routine. As he is older and can totally grasp that he is being rude, now that is a different thing.

Three year olds are large toddlers in many ways, they cannot grasp consequences for many things beyond immediate pavlovian type training. One cannot reason with a three year old about concepts that require empathy terribly well.

I can only suggest you put it to the parents in this way, as best you possibly know how. I don't mean the whole answer, but the bits and pieces that you may find useful. You sound totally like you're on the right track and his parents are anxious to raise a decent child and that's a good thing. Either way, their persisting to ask him to greet you, or by turning a blind eye to it for a short time, it's unlikely to be damaging him, developmentally.

He is a lucky boy to have three carers who are so concerned with his development and welfare and that his parents can also show empathy towards you. These are all good role models for him.

A good idea would be to observe which mornings he is least clingy and just once a week the parents try and prompt him to greet you. Perhaps they could pick him up and greet you, with him in the mornings, without making a huge issue of the child. If he refuses to greet you the best thing is to not make a fuss of it, either way; like that's ok, just let sleeping dogs (or sleepy three year olds) lie.

  • 1
    Thanks Skippy. I Totally agree! Hadn't thought of the idea of choosing one day to sort of "push it" and let the rest of the days go. On Fridays he has breakfast with daddy first and then comes back or goes to preschool and he is often in a much better place on those days - frequently greets without prompting on those days. I've spoken with the parents a little about the transition challenge hoping that would help them be a bit more patient about it - maybe pointing out the difference on Fridays would help too. Nov 4, 2013 at 13:08
  • @balancedmama let me know how it goes! :)
    – user21179
    Nov 4, 2013 at 13:29

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