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How did you help your shy/sensitive/reticent child flourish?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm not exactly sure where to post this, so I'll try here.

My 3 YO DS seems to us to be a sensitive soul, a thinker and observer (as opposed to someone who jumps right into things), a perfectionist (even from the time he was a little baby, this personality trait was clear), and very smart and creative.

He is also really shy, sensitive, and reticent around kids that he doesn't know well, quick to cry or start acting strangely because he's clearly (to us) uncomfortable. He sometimes seems to want to be with them, but also to be totally stressed by the prospect. We just went to a birthday party for our neighbor today, and saw this behavior again. It's painful to watch him struggle like this.

I am home with him, and while we don't see a ton of kids, we do see some most weeks (we'll play with the neighbors once a week or so, he goes to a gym class with another neighbor once a week, and we try to go to library story time once a week when it's in session). Not lots of big groups, though, on a regular basis. When he is with kids he knows well, he is fine overall, and generally seems very happy to spend time playing with them. With adults, he is usually very social and chatty.

We started him in a Montesorri preschool this fall, thinking it would would help him become a little braver and also that he would end up liking it a lot (he seems to like other kids and have a social nature that gets thwarted by fear) and it ended up being a disaster. It's a long story, but between the time I observed the school and when he attended, the school changed hands and it was not the good environment we'd thought it would be - there was a high student-teacher ratio, questionable safety decisions (they left the whole school with a non-employee for an entire day! - and since there is from-the-car drop-off, the parents had no way of knowing - we only found out because we know the substitute and she told us). When he started, he was overwhelmed (fell asleep the first day - this from a kid who rarely naps), and they put him in their office rather than actively spend time helping him get used to the other kids. they discouraged me from coming with him the first few times, even though my intuition told me that was the best way to get him used to things. I feel so, so bad now about how it all transpired, angry at myself for misjuding things and for the school for being understaffed and unable to live up to all the great things they'd said and I'd thought I'd seen the year before when I visited. Anyway - we will try to find another school in the fall. For now it seems too late for anything else - we live rurally and there aren't a whole lot of options to begin with.

I should add that there are definitely some very socially worried (for lack of a better phrase ) genes in my family - my mother, for example, cried EVERY DAY of first grade. Her father even promised her a new dress (and that was a very big deal then in their family) if she could just not cry for one day, and she couldn't. Can you imagine how hard that must of been for her family to see? They must have been so worried.

At any rate - I was wondering what others have done to help similar kids flourish. Among other things, I really worry about the future and elementary school - between his being so sensitive and reacting with howls and crying (this happens about once each gym class, even though he loves gym class overall), I worry he'll be the target of bullies.

Any ideas? Insight? Stories? Please share your thoughts and experiences, both the good and the bad.

Sorry this got so long, and thanks so much if you are still reading .
post #2 of 24
My older DD was very similar to your boy--socially reluctant with people she didn't know, reserved, overwhelmed by crowd situations (birthday parties, new classrooms, gatherings of in-your-face relatives). She started preschool at 3--a decision we made because we needed day care and also because we felt it would be good for her to be forced to branch out--and it went poorly. When she was 4, she did much better, but when she started kindergarten at a new school when she was just under 5, she cried every day for the first month and didn't speak to her teacher until halfway through the year. Every day, after her half day of kindergarten, she seemed stunned--verbal skills reduced to nods and thumb-sucking, naps every day. By midway through the year, she adjusted. Then we moved and in first grade she started at a new school--her current school--and she did very well. She was obviously anxious and tense the first day, but she did not cry and cling. It seems that she needed to be almost 6 before she could cope.

I felt compelled to reply to this thread because I've had some epiphanies in recent weeks about my DD--brought on by a crisis that she has been hit with this fall, as a sixth grader. She started off the school year with a teacher she'd never met, who had never taught this age group, with several new kids in her class, and--to top it off--went away to science camp for four nights with these people just three weeks after school started. It was her first sleepaway with anyone other than aunts and grandparents, and her longest one. She cried every day while she was there because she was so homesick, and while her teacher was supportive and loving, she urged her to fight through it and conquer her homesickness. No one contacted us to let us know she was struggling. When she got off the bus at the end of the trip, she looked stunned. Could barely remember a thing about the trip, seemed hugely relieved to be home, regressed behaviorally--played "down" at her sister's level, slept with stuffed animals from babyhood, needed lots of cuddling. Three days after she got home from camp, she started a high level swim clinic and seemed to get on with sixth grade without any ado.

Fast forward two months. Suddenly, she began getting "headaches." Headaches that came with tears and a great need to be at home. Three or four occasions of headaches, tears, cancelled plans. Then they started hitting at school. I'd get called to come and pick her up. Had her seen by doctor. Long story short, it was clear that school was making her deeply anxious. No friends problems. No academic problems. Just general anxiety. She missed almost two weeks of school, unable to stop crying at the prospect of going, or unable to stop crying in class. Saw her doc again, this time for the anxiety (we'd gone in before for the headaches), and he spent two hours with her. Asked lots of questions, of me, of her, about her babyhood, toddlerhood, history. Diagnosed her with anxiety, suggested it was brought on by science camp experience at a time when traditionally her anxiety is kicked up anyway. (Beginning of school year.) "Everyone has forgotten this child has an anxious brain," he said, "because she's been so well protected and made so comfortable in her environment. This camp experience was so overstimulating that the brain has not recovered. It is associating school with stress and anxiety, and her brain has said 'enough.'" He said hormones could be causing a difficult recovery, too, but that we basically need to retrain her brain that the school environment is safe, and that may take some time.

So . . . while I'm in the midst of this, of course I've thought about my big girl's past, things we've done, and whether they've helped her or hurt her. Despite this recent setback, she has grown up so far to be a delightful girl who rarely causes us worry. She's bright and funny and very outgoing among her cherished group of friends, and she remains a reserved, mild-mannered, gentle presence in the classroom. She's polite and friendly, industrious and responsible. But in terms of social anxiety, she's no different than she was as a baby. She needs to be in familiar situations, or given lots of time to warm up to new ones.

Things we've done that have made us all forget she's got an anxious brain:

•I accompanied her to all playdates until she was almost 7 years old
•I asked her teachers not to push her the first few weeks of school--advised them to give her time to get comfortable enough to raise her hand and participate in classroom discussions
•We dialed back her activities at the beginning of each school year, to give her time to "recover" from her socially rigorous schoolday
•We pursued friendships with children who are respectful of her reserved nature, and did not pursue friendships with children who aren't--socially aggressive or competitive or overly "mature" kids make her nervous
•We did not push her to participate in activities before she expressed enthusiasm herself

Things I wish we hadn't done:

•Forced her to endure preschool at age 3
•Left her at kindergarten to cry every day the first month of school (I wish I had told the teacher I was going to stay, no matter what she said, and that she could put me to work helping out)
•Believed DD when she bravely said that sixth-grade science camp sounded like fun and, along those same lines,I wish we hadn't followed the "rules" by not contacting her or checking in with her teacher while she was there
•Ignored the subtle signs of increasing anxiety this fall--irritability, disdain for previously loved activities, increased interest in "just staying home"--and talking her into adding a few activities like the swim clinic (which we thought she'd love) at a time when traditionally we've scaled things back

One thing we did that I've often questioned: We started her in kindergarten at age 4--she's a fall birthday. 4 was clearly too young, but 5 (almost 6) would've been too old, and she's a tall kid . . . There was no good solution there. In retrospect, we've often thought perhaps we should've homeschooled her for kindergarten and started her in first grade at age 6 (since kindergarten's not mandatory).

Big DD doesn't talk a lot about her feelings, so it's a bit of a guessing game to figure out what's going on in her head. This was an increasing phenomenon this fall, and we blamed it on hormones. She's 11, and a poster child for puberty--developing, got some acne, her period's bound to start any day now. But beneath the pubescent static, she's the same child she was, and we lost sight of that this fall and let things swirl out of control for her. Now we're diligently and desperately trying to bring back her sanity, because she'll need it if she's going to start middle school next year. And if she's not ready, we'll rearrange our lives and homeschool.

I hope this helps.
post #3 of 24
It sounds like your child might be highly sensitive. My son is also highly sensitive and I am in the process of reading the Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.... I highly recommend this book to you as so far I am finding it very helpful and enlightening!
The one thing I do want to say though is to try and accept your son for who he is and not to try and change him. A highly sensitive child is a wonderful thing! (though if not at times a bit worrying and draining! hehe)...Ahh the joys of being a mother!
post #4 of 24
I think there is a lot of wisdom in witch's mom's post!

I stumbled into ap because it tore my heart out when he would cry. And he cried a lot. I tried to meet his needs with nursing, cuddles and I never pressured him to go and play with other kids.

Because he was just before the cutoff, I held him back in school, giving him that extra year to play.

When he started school, I didn't enroll him in any extra-curricular activites until he indicated he wanted to participate. I have also let him quit, never forcing him to see it through.

I think the key is to encourage but not force (and trust me, I know what a fine line that is! I have definately fallen into forcing and it has never had a good outcome.)

I also had to block out the well meaning, but negative voices from family and friends that told me I was coddling him, he would never have friends (he has a couple really good friends), never participate in activities unless forced (he joined the city choir, sang this Christmas at a huge venue in front of thousands....because this was something he wanted to do).

My advice to you, is try not to worry about the future (I know, easier said then done!). A lot of growing and maturing happens in the next couple of years for your ds. Meet him where he is at now.
post #5 of 24
I don't think that putting your shy or sensitive child in preschool at age three is necessarily a bad thing, provided it is the right preschool environment for the right amount of time every day. I think you could actually do your shy or sensitive child a disservice by keeping him cloistered at home for another couple of years. In any event, the child is going to have a more difficult time adapting to school and keeping him at home until he is 5 will make it all the harder then. I was horrendously shy when I was that age and I think that putting me a preschool for a couple or even three hours per day would have been a good idea.

I think what is important is the right kind of preschool : not too many children in one room, enough adults around, long adaptation period during which mom or dad can stick around while he gets used to it, etc.

Incidentally, my three-year old daughter is super shy and does have some highly sensitive traits (she has 12 out of 20 traits on Elaine Aron's quizz) and she attends preschool 4 hours per day. Even half way through the year now, she still does not talk a lot there BUT she does talk a lot about school at home and seems to love it.
post #6 of 24
I had no awareness of Highly Sensitive People before ds. There is a whole tribe about "Mothering the Highly Sensitive Child". http://www.mothering.com/discussions...196898&page=13 It has been active for over 2 years and has almost 500 posts about sensitive children. Dh and ds are both highly sensitive and auditory sensitive. Basically, their hearing acuity is so intensely aware that they have difficulty with loud volumes or chaotic auditory input. Restaurants with a lot of talking is hard for ds because he is focused on articulation and all the many voices bombard him. Similarly, dh doesn't block out the random and repetitive noises that a 5 year old makes, he *hears* each sound as an auditory assault, even when the sounds are not loud, they are intrusive.

Both dh and ds are highly able to discern musical instruments, identify them acutely and have an amazing awareness of tone, rhythm and minute differences between instrumental sounds. For instance, ds at about age 3 could identify all the instruments in the orchestra individually or in a musical piece by listening. Instruments which I learned, such as a contra bassoon!! vs. sax, cello, tuba, clarinet, etc were discernible to him. So, auditory sensitivity impacts them both positively and negatively, depending upon the environment. We avoid environments which are overwhelming to their auditory sensitivities. When we attended the symphony, our son had to cover his ears due to the loud sensation of the music. Although, he LOVES music! The acoustic environment amplified all the sounds, of course.

Your son may also be empathically sensitive. Both dh and ds are also. They have a heightened sensitivity to other's emotional states. There is a web site about Highly Sensitive Children, it is quite a gift of increase awareness. It helps my husband to be such a successful high level manager and to diplomatically negotiate conflicts to mutual satisfaction. He is so aware of other's underlying feelings and unspoken messages that it is very useful. However, conflict is very draining and stressful for him emotionally. There is a little quiz on the web site to help discern if your son (and/or you) are Highly Sensitive. http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm

It is a gift of increased awareness and emotional sensitivity. (ie. startles easily; complains about scratchy clothing, seams in socks, or labels against his/her skin; doesn't usually enjoy big surprises; notices the slightest unusual odor; doesn't do well with big changes; is bothered by noisy places; feels things deeply, etc.) This awareness helped me to understand how environments, emotional conflicts, and transitions could be overwhelming to ds.

Here is an interesting article about how introverted children can be overstimulated in an extroverted world. I believe it applies to our expectations for introverted children's behavior to conform in intense social environments may lead to increased 'tantrums', and overt distress that might be misunderstood as 'misbehavior'.

"Raising Your Introverted Child": http://www.child.com/child/story.jht...introverts.xml It is from the mainstream "Child" magazine. But had some well documented information. (There are 8 "pages" to the short article.)

Here is an old thread about introverted children: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ht=introverted

HTH, Pat
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
witch's mom, thank you so, so much for taking the time to share your story about your daughter - words can't really express how much i appreciate it, actually. it gave me so much to think about, and made me feel better to know that he is not the only one out there like he is . she sounds so much like my son - and we even have the same issue you did about kindergarten (his birthday is 19 days after the cut-off date for our district).

and thanks from the bottom of my heart to all the rest of you, for posting your stories and thoughts and resources and insight. i was so excited today when i sat down to check this discussion thread and saw all of the great posts. there is so much here so far that is really helpful.

i would love to hear any other thoughts or stories anyone else might have.

again, thanks so much mamas! you totally rock.
post #8 of 24
Romangoddess points out that putting a shy, sensitive kid in preschool at 3 is not wrong, and ITA with her. Because of our childcare needs at the time, we had no other options than a large preschool setting for DD, and I believe she would have done much, much better in a smaller, gentler environment. And at that point in my parenting life, I was far more mainstream than I've since become, and I let other people and/or society persuade me to do things that I now know went against my own instincts and my DD's needs. I got sucked into a lot of "she's got to get used to it sometime" messages, and the fact is, Big DD has traditionally done poorly in any social situations that she's been forced into before she's ready.

It's so hard, as a parent of a shy kid, to have faith that they will someday be able to cope. Like right now, with Big DD, we're wondering about her ability to go to middle school. Middle school is still NINE MONTHS off, and we've learned that A LOT CAN HAPPEN in that amount of time. Logically, there is no reason for us to worry about her future. But, just like we did when she was a baby and wouldn't smile at the relatives and we worried that she was unfriendly or that she'd NEVER warm up to anyone, now we're again worrying about her ability to cope with the real world. The fact is, she can always cope once she's given the time she needs to get there. And it's not always on everybody's else's schedule. It's one of the reasons I began embracing a more natural parenting style when she was a preschooler (that, and the fact that DD #2 came along and, with her intuitive ways, forced some eyes to open wider around here). It just became clear, time after time, that if everyone would get out of Big DD's face and just let her observe for awhile, she'd adjust in her own way, on her own schedule and eventually join the fun.
post #9 of 24
oh man.....I could have written your post! I identify with it so much I had to reply but haven't yet read the rest of the posters, but I had to say I really understand where you are coming from. My oldest dd is in K this year and luckily flourishing but that is because only of a very selectively chosen preschool and teacher last year and this year for K. But today we went to the library with friends to join a small yoga class and she was completely and utterly uncomfortable, on the verge of tears ect. Like you said, heartwrenching watch. I hate it. She did all the moves and like you said, really, really wants to be a part, she just really gets unnerved by new people, situations and teachers. I was shocked at how she reverted to her insecurities so quickly when she's been great in school all year, gym, music class. It seems every time we are in the halls 10 teachers say hello to her.

post #10 of 24
Thank you shooflymama for starting this thread and thank you witchs' mom for taking the time to tell your DDs story.

My DD is not quite 3 but I have known from the beginning that she is a very sensitive child. I'm also staring to understand that her sensitivies are not just emotional, but physical as well. Aron's book is definitely on my reading list.

While most of my friends are busy keeping their child disciplined and out of trouble, I am busy making sure DDs feelings are being respected and that she's comfortable in the current situation.

I've had a lot of trouble with adults not respecting her boundaries, particularly adults she doesn't know well. She takes a long time to warm up to new situations and people but it seems people just don't understand that. Even when it comes to her grandparents, whom she speaks of fondly and visits weekly, it usually takes her 15-20 min of being in their house before she's ready to give them a hug and play.

When I returned to work when she was 3 mos old, we enrolled her in a large daycare center. The infant care was pretty good and we did not have many issues there. However, when she was moved to the toddler room it was a disaster. Too many kids, too much noise, too few teachers and too little attention. She would cry and cry when I dropped her off but since it was prime age for separation anxiety, I thought it was just that. This is a montessori school and they encouraged me leave, that she would stop crying soon. My DH picked her up in the afternoons and said that she'd always be sitting in the corner by herself. She'd come running to him and then clung on to him for dear life. Even at home, she'd be super clingy all night. This was 1.5 years ago and I'm still upset that I didn't listen to my gut sooner. I feel like an awful mama for putting her through that.

After a month or so of no improvement and high teacher turnover (which no doubt made things worse), we decided that this daycare was not for her. We found a wonderful SAH mama who wanted to watch only one child in addition to her own two. It was the perfect environment! Within 2 days, DD was a completely different child. We still have her in the same arrangement and she couldn't be happier.

I'm a bit concerned about how things will work out when she goes to preschool, K, and beyond that. She can and will socialize with other children, it just needs to be on her terms. If I can find a small, supportive environment, I think she would be alright. But I think she'd get lost in the shuffle of a large preschool.

Her personality isn't the only reason, but it is a big reason why I am considering SAH and possibly homeschooling, at least for a while. I feel that she will need me to help her transition into preschool and I can't really do that while I'm at work all day.

A lot of people think that I'm being overprotective of her but I honestly do not think I am. Maybe it's hard for parents without sensitive children to understand our kids. Most people do not believe me that merely raising one's voice at her will be enough to shut her down and really, really hurt her feelings (which is also a reason why I think GD is the only way to go with my kid). All I want is for my DD to be given the space she needs to flourish and to respect her thoughts and feelings. It really seems like the world is not set up for sensitive people and I really just want to do my best to help her find ways to adapt to it.

I know my DD is still very young, but it really helps to hear stories from everyone with older children. It gives me a glimpse of what to look out for when she gets older.
post #11 of 24
Well, maybe we all should start a club! I totally agree that no one understands our children. I've even also gotten from her grandparents that one day she'll have to be "out in the real world" when dh really objected to one of her uncles picking her up all time. My response was that they have never met a child like her and they don't have one of their own, out of 6, so I'm not worried about their opinion of her.

I too am realizing that pushing is not the answer with these precious children. And it's so funny about discipline. One day when my dd was I think 3 a relative asked me how I discipline her, do I do time outs etc? And i remember at the time just looking at them strangely thinking, "well she needs boundaries but not really discipline". They about fainted! I can understand that because my other 2 are not highly sensitive and they do need discipline.

I think it's important for us as their parents to accept them and NOT try to push them. The line is so hard to figure out. I don't want life to pass her by sometimes by her missing out on things she not comfortable trying, but also I don't want to make her life miserable by pushing her so she's always uncomfortable. I think it's so valuable to get to hear the input from others who have older sensitive kids, like pp said. To know that one day it's just not going to go away, but to value it as part of their personality and try to structure their world so it's a positive thing. It's just so hard to know how to do that at times.
post #12 of 24
I too have a sensitive ds--now 8. I don't have tons of advice, other than try to go with the flow and not make him feel like his behavior is wrong. For example, we had to give up on library storytimes because they wanted the kids to sit in the front, parents in the back (so all the kids could see)--my ds would NEVER do that at that age.

Tomorrow he is going on his first playdate without me! Riding in their car! We have carefully chosen the friend and mom--I new they would be his first date 3 years ago, and he is finally ready. (In addition to having been there lots of times, and knowing them 3 years, mom is one of his substitute teachers.)

My son is now much more shy around adults than other kids--he will talk to the kids, even total strangers, especially if it's just 1 kid.

We are very fortunate to have found a school that loops the teachers (3 year loops). He is now in second grade. He did not speak to his K teacher until 3 months in, and was very very clingy, especially the first year of a 2-yr program. The teachers let me stay most days, but I had a toddler too, which was a problem.

We allow him to choose his activities (within reason--and this kid is always within reason). Dad coaches soccer, his first Tball year a friend's dad coached. Last year he wanted to do ice skating over baseball, so we let him. This year he wants to do swimming--so we will try that. He is not competitive at all and does not get kids like that at all, so team sports are tough for him--he has no confidence in his own abilities (or anxiety about them), and just doesn't find them that fun. Jumping in mud puddles after soccer yes, shooting drills no. He asked to take guitar lessons 8 months ago, and is still doing it--he rarely speaks to his teacher, and the teacher is OK with that, he is getting good at asking questions ds must talk to answer

He also LOVES cub scouts--this has been great for him. It is only occasionally competitive, and all events are optional. Our pack is big, and parents and siblings are almost always welcome. He won't go on museum overnights but loves tent camping, even though parents go to both! It has helped him meet more kids in our neighborhood (which has about 40,000 people), so when we run into them at a sports thing, or the Y, or the library, or the grocery store, he interacts.

It IS hard, I know. Don't try to push him--encourage yes, push no. Try to find things that work for both of you--my guy is willing to try a new sport IF he knows the coach, or has friends in the same class/team. You have a pretty good idea at this point of what he can't handle--try to find things he CAN. Look through whatever kinds of local newspapers you have. Look for places to go/activities that he can handle. For example, when my guy was younger, he didn't mind crowds of strangers, but was freaked out by crowds of people he recognized but didn't know well. So til he was 7 school festivals were IMPOSSIBLE. We would put in an appearance EARLY, and leave before it got really crowded. He still hates "activities" at those festivals, preferring to help or just play on the jungle gym. So, that's what he does
post #13 of 24
In any event, the child is going to have a more difficult time adapting to school and keeping him at home until he is 5 will make it all the harder then.
I totally disagree. At age 3, my dd1 was a 20 out of 20 on the HS test. She would go to playgroup and spend almost the entire time with her hands on her ears. I unschooled her (besides some part-time Russian lessons) until she started school at nearly 5 1/2 -- and she soared! Another mama commented that she was the most self-assured kid she'd ever seen. The 2nd grade teacher (an old friend) said she couldn't believe how confidently she walked into her Kindergarten evaluation. Today the only traces of her HS personality are a whole lot of empathy and some occasional hand-wringing. I practically don't even recognize her myself!
post #14 of 24
My kids both started school at almost 6 and it was the perfect choice for us. They were ready and happy and had not been when they were younger. Even a year younger they were just not ready emotionally.

I don't understand why people think waiting until 5/6 is too late. I really don't understand that. Can you please explain?
post #15 of 24
Originally Posted by RomanGoddess View Post
In any event, the child is going to have a more difficult time adapting to school and keeping him at home until he is 5 will make it all the harder then. I was horrendously shy when I was that age and I think that putting me a preschool for a couple or even three hours per day would have been a good idea.
I'm not against the right preschool but IME this wasn't true. We didn't send our ds to any kind of school until the second half on kindergarten and he went without looking back. At that time I had almost never seen him talk to another adult.

He was very quiet for a while but eventually he became more outgoing and now he is a very poised and mature middle schooler.

I do think he would have been okay at the right preschool but we were planning on homeschooling at that time so we didn't send him.
post #16 of 24
To me, it sounds like your child is just introverted, and needs time to check things out for a while before they feel comfortable in new situations. I HIGHLY reccomend The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World for ideas on how to help your child not feel like there is something wrong with him for not being outgoing and jumping straight into new things.
post #17 of 24

I am amazed at how similar some of these stories are to my DS. It makes life easier to know that their are others who deal with this and have succeeded in make life wonderful for their children.

My DS is almost 6. He started kindergarten this fall and is doing amazingly well. He started preschool at age 3 1/2 with the most wonderful preschool teacher ever (she is on MDC, too!!). The class was small and quite structured. She allowed him to sit and watch the kids when they did music time or activities he was uncomfortable with. She never pushed him to participate if he wasn't comfortable. At the Christmas program and the spring program, he either watched the kids perform while sitting with us or he sat in the front with them. He didn't sing or do the actions at all. It was so sad as the parent to go to the program and not get to see him perform, but we tried to not make a big deal of it.

He really only liked to play with certain kids and there were certain kids that were overwhelming to him. We would have to carefully choose who he played with as it was too much for him to be with kids that were loud, wild, or in your face types. He has some great friends now.

The next year of preschool got a little easier. He had a male teacher (the previous years teacher's husband). He was really good for DS. He helped him to step out of his shell a bit and it helped to see a male doing the goofy actions to songs and singing. DS performed at the programs even though he was very nervous about it and had major anxiety for a few days prior. He got up there and did the songs the way he was supposed to, but with a very nervous look on his face for part of it. He had come a long way, but still had a way to go.

Summer of 07 was a hard time for him. He knew kindergarten was coming and that meant a new school, new teacher, new friends. He was so nervous. He started having bathroom accidents several times a day for most of the summer. It was awful and very frustrating. I got very upset with him on several occasions, though I know it didn't help matters. He was going through 20+ pairs of underwear in a week and I got very sick of washing really dirty underwear.

To help ease him into school, we went to the school on several occasions. We toured, talked with school administrators, met his teacher, went to the open house, met some kids, etc. We also took him on the playground several times so he would get used to it. It helped that his good friend was also going to be in the class. We ended up sending him to a private school where the class size was smaller and they only have half day kindergarten. I think that made a huge difference.

I was amazed at parent teacher conferences when his teacher told me that he has become a little leader in the class. It helps that I spent a lot of time working with him on school lessons to prepare him so that he was sort of used to the lessons and he didn't get so frustrated. He is very bright and quite emotional. When something is hard at school or something doesn't go right, I can tell almost instantly. He doesn't like to talk about his feelings much so it is hard to get inside his head.

At the Christmas program, he was amazing. He was picked to stand in the front row and he did all the actions, loudly sang the songs, etc. in front of hundreds of people in a packed church (the school is attached to a church). It was amazing the see how far he has come in the last couple of years. It bring tears to my eyes thinking about all the struggles and all the battles because it has all been worth it to see him doing so well.

He has come a long way, but it is a daily struggle. We have to keep things low key at home. There can't be a lot of things going on and very little chaos, if any. He needs time by himself and he thrives on quiet play time. He is not in an extracurricular activities and will not be unless he wants to and is ready for it. I don't generally force him to do things. If he is uncomfortable, I do whatever it is with him. I stay with him a birthday parties unless he is comfortable to stay by himself. I do try to stretch him when I can because I think it helps him to step out a bit on his own, but I do it at a slow pace and only if he is ready for it.

I also closely watch what he eats. He is very sensitive to food dye so we avoid that as much as possible. We also try to limit other foods. He is sensitive to smells so we use fragrance free cleaners, homemade laundry soap, soaps, etc. in our house. That has made a marked difference in him. It is just learning to figure out what affects him and how we can change things to improve him life.

He is a bright, loving, affectionate boy and I have grown to love his quicks. It was very hard when he was a baby because I had no idea how to help him. He cried a lot, needed tons of attention, was sick all the time, etc. It was very hard and I was beyond myself a lot of times. I am glad that we have figured things out things to help him. To the OP, you will get there too. Just watch for his cues and do things he is comfortable doing and in his time. Watch for foods and things that seem to upset his balance. Something really simple can throw off a sensitive child. Our biggest thing was laundry soap. It was toxic to him and was on him at all times (in his clothes, his sheets, towels, etc.). You are doing a great job and just by searching out things for him, it is apparent that you are willing to go the extra mile to help him. That is the first step to improving his world (and it helps make your life easier too!!!)

Sorry this got long, but I hope something in here helps you or anyone else reading this.
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Oh mamas, you are the best!!! I couldn't believe how many new posts had been added to this thread, and I was so happy to read all of them. I am going to bookmark this thread so I can easily come back to it to find and reread it from time to time. All of your posts have been so helpful - they've given me lots of thing to think about, lot of good ideas, resources, and hope. And it helped to know that my little guy (and I) am not alone .

Pat, I wanted to add that the article you suggested on "Raising the Introverted Child" was really helpful, and along with other mamas saying they came to understand that pushing their children to do things before they were ready wasn't a helpful thing, brought me a lot of peace. I've never wanted to push him, but would get scared that if I didn't it might hurt him in the long run. I don't believe that anymore, and that's brought me a lot of peace.
post #19 of 24
I've been lurking on this thread for a bit, and I wanted to ask all of you with introverted children a few questions. As you can see from my signature, dd is almost a year old, and I was wondering when you started noticing introverted tendencies in your lo?

DD has been timid around other people since she was born; now that she's getting older she no longer cries when strangers (or grandparents!) look at her, but she does NOT want other people to touch or hold her. She does warm up to people, but it takes awhile, and she "shuts down" around people she doesn't know. She is very happy, outgoing, and loving with dp and me, but when others enter her space, or she enters theirs, she becomes very quiet, observant, if not withdrawn.

My mom says that this is because she doesn't see other people very often. Dp and I both work, but we alternate schedules so that she's basically only with us. She doesn't see other people that often, and she isn't cared for by other people at all. I tend to think, however, that this is part of her personality and that it doesn't necessarily have to do with her lack of exposure to lots of people and caregivers.

Since she's so young, I don't want to assume too much about her predispositions, but at the same time, I do want to be attentive to her signals. I feel guilty for not providing her with more exposure to others, and I feel guilty when she won't respond to people or let them come near her. At the same time, I'm introverted, and I remember being a little kid wishing that adults would just leave me alone until I got to know them better. Thank you for any feedback!
post #20 of 24
I WAHMd when dd was 0-2 1/2. When she was about 11 months I put her in part-time care (about 5 kids). She was confident, but often needed to be held (they even shortened her time to 2 hours because of it). It was at 2 1/2 that I took her to playgroup noticed the noise-sensitivity. She had had plenty of exposure to other people.
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