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Can a 5-year-old go shirtless at the dinner table?
Q: Our daughter and 5-year-old granddaughter live with us and both of them must abide by our rules. My husband and I insist that the little girl wear a shirt at the dinner table, but our daughter doesn't think she should have to. I think she's too old to be running around shirtless, especially with a 10- and 16-year-old uncle in the house. Please help us settle the argument.
Nora Elkton
A: One of the major tasks every parent faces during the early childhood years is the socialization of their child. This is when kids are introduced to manners, appropriate behavior, getting along with others and knowing the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, I agree that your granddaughter should be dressed appropriately at the dinner table and while she plays. You have implied to your daughter that going shirtless is a sexual issue, and this may be why she is disagreeing with you.

However, I do not agree with the way you are approaching your daughter. When you say she must abide by your rules, you're talking about her like she's a child. Talk to her woman to woman about the house rules. If you take this approach you will have a much better chance of not alienating her.
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist