It’s impossible to explain to a toddler that talking about strangers in their presence is rude. Especially when she gets into the framework of “I don’t want to be polite, mommy. I want to be yuuuuude!” So I came up with a great method not to feel embarrassed when it happens.
I started to refer to all strangers as “the nice lady” and “the nice gentleman.” So now when Klara asks me loudly, “What is that nice lady doing, mommy?”, I don’t feel mortified and strangers don’t feel uncomfortable. Many folks visibly perk up when they hear that a kid considers them to be nice.
This is also part of my general strategy to foster a positive outlook in her. Obviously, the foundation of that will be me not suffering from anxiety. But I also constantly say things like, “This is a beautiful tree. I like this book. This is a good one! I’m having a great time. I feel very happy. It’s a great day. This gentleman was very nice and helpful.” This isn’t fake because I do sincerely feel like this about the world.
I always feel sorry about folks who see something bad even in the best situations. Like this person (a very nice lady otherwise) who was at a very luxurious resort but kept bitching that – wait for this! – watermelon was cut up in cubes instead of triangles at the breakfast buffet. I started avoiding her at the resort because she was poisoning my existence with her whining about the watermelon cubes. Such people really suffer because of the way they are.