Thursday, June 1, 2017

What to Do If Your Toddler Stares at People in Public

I started asking for advice in a Facebook parenting group I'm in, but by time I finished writing my question, I realized I had my own answer. It's a little uncomfortable for me, but sometimes the right things are.

So. The question:

What should I do about my toddler watching (staring) at people in public? He loves people-watching so much that he prefers it over play. I don't want to discourage his observation of people, but at the same time, staring is rude and it can get pretty awkward.

My answer for myself:


You don't need to do anything about the people-watching except to guide his curiosity and help cultivate his understanding of people. I bet his life purpose has something to do with understanding people! He's learning so much by watching. There's no need to dampen his curiosity.

Are you worried about manners? (Yes.) Well, don't be. Young kids get a pass when it comes to this stuff, in my opinion. As he gets older, he'll learn how to observe with more subtlety. But for now, he needs to soak up every face, mannerism, and voice to figure out how people work--and if that takes unabashed staring, so be it.

And are you worried about how the other people feel? (Yes.) Don't be. Their reactions are a learning opportunity too. And if they're uncomfortable with a toddler staring at them, they can always walk away. A little adult discomfort is better than squelching a child's learning because of some invisible manners rule.

Plus, wouldn't the world be a better place if we all slowed down, watched, and tried to understand the people around us? This little boy is onto something with those wide open eyes of his.


For more content about crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs, find me on Facebook!

Related posts:

I Could Have Taught My Son Manners, but I Started a Food Fight Instead

What Gentle Parenting Shows Child

Why I Refuse to Call My Son Shy

16 comments:

  1. My daughter is the same! Lol And I agree-great points!

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  2. I am a mom of a toddler too and I can relate with your blog so much. Thank you for sharing this :D

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  3. Hahaha! Mine both used to do the same :-) Completely agree with your approach!

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  4. My 2.5yo is what we have deemed a "gawker." Yesterday morning at breakfast, he stood in the booth and proudly declared 'I watching da peoples!' When people are in ear shot, we've encouraged him to start a conversation rather than simply stare.

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    1. Cutest declaration of all time!! I love the advice about starting a conversation too!

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  5. Don't even worry about the staring. When my oldest was two she would blurt out things like "Why does that lady look cranky?" and "Did she draw her eyebrows on because those look drawn on!" Humiliating!

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    1. Oh my goodness! I'm sure I'm in for some of that in the future. Haha

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  6. My son did this when he was little, and he even made an offensive comment once (of course he didn't realize it). It was quite embarrasing but thankfully the person did not hear it and we discussed it after the fact.

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    1. I just know that'll happen to us eventually too!

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  7. Totally agree with this! From the time my daughter was an infant, people have commented on how observant she is. She likes to just sit and absorb everything around her. Personally, I don't worry about it. Like you said, if it makes an adult uncomfortable, they are free to walk away. :)

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  8. I agree with your response whole-heartedly! I actually find it pretty funny when I catch kids staring at me because I like to people watch, too! Except, I've learned how to be more disreet in my old age. HA!

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