Is my toddler too comfortable around strangers?

Teaching your toddler the concept of personal space.

Photo: forestpath/iStockphoto

Q: My two-year-old daughter is way more comfortable around strangers than my son, now five, ever was. It’s almost alarming; she will crawl into just about anyone’s lap, with no trepidation. Shouldn’t she have a healthy fear of new people?

A: Most children have a healthy fear of strangers. It’s adaptive to know who is reliable, dependable and safe, and who might cause some threat or harm. It sounds like your daughter, for whatever reason, does not have appropriate boundaries. Try to teach her the concept of personal space, and how to move into relationships with more caution — she doesn’t seem to be picking it up on her own. As she gets older, she may experience rejection from others if she’s too intrusive.

A version of this article appeared in our September 2012 issue with the headline “Toddler: Ask our expert,” p. 84.