Extremely shy almost 2 year old - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-22-2009, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 21 month old has always been fairly shy around other babies and kids, and it has been worrying me the past month or two - to the point where I worry that he may have some Asperger's or another non-verbal learning disorder that is affecting his ability to cope. He is very verbal - using full sentences, has hundreds of words, knows "my" and "yours" etc., knows his colours, shapes, animals, some numbers (not rote - can count 1 vs 2 vs 3 things) and so on.

I stay at home with him so he is not around other kids in daycare, but we are at the park every day - but there is hardly ever another kid in sight. If there is, he might watch them play but if they try to come over to him or say hi he cries and wants up. That's fine, I pick him up, and am definitely not pushing him to do something he is uncomfortable with.

We have also been going to and early years centre and library story time once a week each. At the early years centre he goes to a toy he knows from previous visits and will rarely do activities unless I encourage him/walk him through it. At home if we have activities set up and he enjoys them, but not outside our home.

At the library story time, we go early so he can play with the train set for 15-20 minutes before the other kids arrive, but as soon as they do and want to play he is up on my knee every couple minutes, or if another child talks/squaks to him he will want up and not come down for anything. During the story time he sits in my lap and hangs on with a death grip, looking at the teacher but not participating in any way and with a nervous look on his face. The other kids run around and have a great deal of fun, he is the only one who doesn't enjoy the class which is run by a wonderful woman

I should note that this behaviour only extends to kids activities - around adults he is fine. In fact if we are walking and an adult says hi to him he has no problem talking to them, smiles at them, direct eye contact etc. etc. At home with me and DH he is talkative, energetic, and lots of fun.

I'm just not sure what to do - I really enjoy going out and meeting new people at these activities. There are so few people in my immediate neighbourhood that relate to our lifestyle and I don't have many friends with kids. I would love for him to be more comfortable around other kids so that we can enjoy little trips out, play with his cousins and so on but I also want to respect his personality. I don't know where to draw the line. It is especially hard with winter coming up when some days we won't be able to get outside for more than a few minutes at a time some days

Thanks for reading all of that - any other parents of shy kids with advice for me?

Amanda + Steven SAHM to James (Feb 19, 2008) and Alexander (Jan 7, 2011). Lost little ones always in my heart (07/11/2009) (04/2010)
 
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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I have one really, really shy kid (doesn't even like to make eye contact with most people) -- that I am still considering maybe has Aspergers -- and one really, really outgoing kid (chats up even scary-looking people on the street). Both had majorly different baby-/toddler-hoods: My shy girl was home with only me almost all of the time and was almost never around other kids until she was about 4 years old, while my outgoing girl stayed home with her dad or her nanny for her first year and started school at 12 months old.

I'm 'baking' a third child right now, and am planning on having this kid in a regular activity by age 1 as well.

I can't say for sure what's nature and what's nurture, but if I could go back in time with my shy girl to when she was your son's age, I'd start making sure she had other kids to play with regularly--even if they weren't the same age (although I do think there is benefit to seeing the same kids regularly). Both of my girls are very bright, and both are lively and energetic at home, so I think my big mistake was assuming socialization skills would come naturally with age.

Tamara: Aspiring doula, partner to Brazilian musician, mom to THREE GIRLIES!
(4/01, 6/07, & 12/09)
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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I have a 2.5 year old who is also very shy around other kids. Nearly any interaction with other kids causes her to raise a hand as if to ward them off and cry, "no, kid!". We used to be in a playgroup, but left that before she turned 2. The interactions with the other kids there seemed to make things worse, not better -- the multiple, high-energy kids completely freaked her out.

I don't have a solution -- we're in the middle of it -- but here's what we're trying:

-- Not pushing her to interact with other kids, but...
-- Encouraging small interactions with other, quiet kids (a calm, slightly older boy at the bookstore who shared books with her, a local mom and daughter who's also smaller and quieter than most kids).
-- Taking parent & me classes with other kids (DH takes her to gymnastics once a week, she and I go to library storytime).

We've made slight progress. For instance, at gymnastics there's another girl (slightly older, but special ed) who used to run up to DD and freak her out. It's been about 5 or 6 weeks of classes, and the girl came up to DD last time and gave her a kiss! Without a freak out! DH tried to encourage DD to give her a hug back, but the girl ran off. DD now talks about how she's going to give the girl a hug next time.

I'd love to hear other suggestions from moms who've been there!

ETA -- Forgot to mention -- we thought about Asperger's or some other disorder, but she's very sensitive to mood in other people and doesn't have any other issues. We think she's just really shy.

Jen, former sys admin and current geek , wife to DH , SAHM and Montessori homeschool teacher to DD "Nugget" (05/07) and new arrival DS "Sprout" (03/31/10)
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by aramat View Post
I can't say for sure what's nature and what's nurture, but if I could go back in time with my shy girl to when she was your son's age, I'd start making sure she had other kids to play with regularly--even if they weren't the same age (although I do think there is benefit to seeing the same kids regularly). Both of my girls are very bright, and both are lively and energetic at home, so I think my big mistake was assuming socialization skills would come naturally with age.
This is what I'm really having trouble deciding (whether to keep going to these groups or just take a break). We went to our first playgroup when he was 6 weeks old (of course he just slept the whole time then) but things have just gotten worse instead of better. I wish I could figure out a way for him to be more comfortable around other children. He loves looking at pictures of other kids but can barely function around other kids - especially his age and high energy ones.

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The interactions with the other kids there seemed to make things worse, not better -- the multiple, high-energy kids completely freaked her out.
Very much the same situation here! Mind you, even when he was one-on-one with his cousin who is 12 months and in daycare his cousin wanted to follow him around and my DS would start crying and want up when he was anywhere close.


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Originally Posted by jenfl View Post
-- Not pushing her to interact with other kids, but...
-- Encouraging small interactions with other, quiet kids (a calm, slightly older boy at the bookstore who shared books with her, a local mom and daughter who's also smaller and quieter than most kids).
-- Taking parent & me classes with other kids (DH takes her to gymnastics once a week, she and I go to library storytime).

We've made slight progress. For instance, at gymnastics there's another girl (slightly older, but special ed) who used to run up to DD and freak her out. It's been about 5 or 6 weeks of classes, and the girl came up to DD last time and gave her a kiss! Without a freak out! DH tried to encourage DD to give her a hug back, but the girl ran off. DD now talks about how she's going to give the girl a hug next time.
That is good advice and a very sweet story. He does seem more comfortable around older, calmer kids as well. It's finding them that's a problem! My DS also talks about the other kids once we leave, like saying "baby boy and girl play trains." I try to talk to him about it when he brings it up, like yes the other little boys and girls like the trains too, just like you do and there will be other kids at the library when we go... hopefully it helps eventually.

Amanda + Steven SAHM to James (Feb 19, 2008) and Alexander (Jan 7, 2011). Lost little ones always in my heart (07/11/2009) (04/2010)
 
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Old 11-23-2009, 03:59 AM
 
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My daughter is "shy" for sure. She has gotten better over time. I had to pull her out of a lot of activities at 24 months because she would be so upset by them. Now, at 30 months, I can take her and she will hesitate to go in when there are other kids, but she will go. We went to a new storytime last week and she didn't want to participate in the dancing, but has talk about dancing next time we go every day since then. I think it's helped just not to push her too hard. I give her time to process and then when she is ready she has a great time.

For the record she has been going to activities 4 days a week with other kids from the age of 4 months until she was 24 months and she has a small group of kids her same age that she plays with frequently and has since she was a baby. I almost think taking her somewhere so often with other kids just was too much for her temperament. So, I don't think you can force a naturally shy kid to be outgoing just by having them hang out with more kids. You just have to support them and not ask too much of them. She really became more social after we back off doing as many things.

SAHM to DD (May/07) and DS (Jan/10)
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Old 11-23-2009, 11:31 AM
 
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We went to a new storytime last week and she didn't want to participate in the dancing, but has talk about dancing next time we go every day since then. I think it's helped just not to push her too hard. I give her time to process and then when she is ready she has a great time.
This is very much the same for my DD. She usually doesn't participate (after over a year, she still doesn't clap her hands/stomp her feet/shout hooray during library storytime). But after a while of watching and processing, she'll start talking about trying something new and then finally will. In fact, this week she's said she'll clap and stomp at storytime! We'll see.

We've very much seen this improvement at gymnastics because it's so consistent week to week. She's still way behind the other kids, but she always gets better at one thing or tries something new, usually after talking about it the week before. She just needs more time to process than other kids.

Oh, that's the other thing to mention! We think some of the shyness might be due to her being behind the other kids, gross motor-wise. She hit the big milestones right about on-time, but she's just not very skilled. She barely runs or jumps at 2.5, and is slower and more unsteady than other kids. We think the masses of fast-moving, active kids often scares her for good reason. It's one of the reasons DH started taking her to gymnastics. And we've seen steady improvement in those gross-motor skills!

Jen, former sys admin and current geek , wife to DH , SAHM and Montessori homeschool teacher to DD "Nugget" (05/07) and new arrival DS "Sprout" (03/31/10)
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Old 11-23-2009, 03:00 PM
 
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My 4 year old is very shy, also with adults. I am shy too, and she started daycare at 4 months old, so I am pretty sure it is nature in our case.
I try not to put emphasis on her being shy, not pushing her to hug someone etc. She is much better with people she knows, so school has been fine, she is just quiet compared to the other kids and she likes to play with the less dominant classmates best.

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Old 11-23-2009, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by sunshadow View Post
My daughter is "shy" for sure. She has gotten better over time. I had to pull her out of a lot of activities at 24 months because she would be so upset by them. Now, at 30 months, I can take her and she will hesitate to go in when there are other kids, but she will go. We went to a new storytime last week and she didn't want to participate in the dancing, but has talk about dancing next time we go every day since then. I think it's helped just not to push her too hard. I give her time to process and then when she is ready she has a great time.

For the record she has been going to activities 4 days a week with other kids from the age of 4 months until she was 24 months and she has a small group of kids her same age that she plays with frequently and has since she was a baby. I almost think taking her somewhere so often with other kids just was too much for her temperament. So, I don't think you can force a naturally shy kid to be outgoing just by having them hang out with more kids. You just have to support them and not ask too much of them. She really became more social after we back off doing as many things.
This is definitely what we are looking at now - I think that coming up to the Christmas season we will be slowing down our regular outings, but we have 3 different Christmas' to attend so we may not get a break.... anyway, thanks for sharing that things got better after you took your DD out of activities for a few months. I will try that and see if things change after a few weeks.

Thanks to everyone for commiserating and sharing!

Amanda + Steven SAHM to James (Feb 19, 2008) and Alexander (Jan 7, 2011). Lost little ones always in my heart (07/11/2009) (04/2010)
 
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Old 11-23-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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My daughter has always been really slow to warm up to people. We started going to a pretty small playgroup when she was 6 months old and she wouldn't talk to anyone other than me or her friends (but only if there wasn't an adult in the room!) until she was like 4. In fact, several of my friends were suprised she actually could talk, lol. Now she's 5 and in school. She's still pretty shy, but she is starting to talk to the teachers. With other kids, she remains quiet for the most part, but will talk to them. She has friends and apparently is very social according to the teacher.

Honestly, let her be. She'll either outgrow it or will always remain a little shy. I still get nervous in social situations and dh is really bad with them and it takes a lot of his energy. Some people are social, some are homebodies. Nothing wrong with either.

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Old 11-23-2009, 09:45 PM
 
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Just wanted to throw in that, judging from what the OP said, I'd say it's unlikely that her child has Asperger's or any other autism-related condition, since he is social with adults and relaxed and playful at home. There's a lot of autism in my family so it's something I've researched quite a bit.

One thing I've found helpful for my DD (who also tends to be timid and withdrawn with other toddlers, but who doesn't seem to have any autistic disorder either) is this article: http://www.parentingscience.com/pres...al-skills.html . It cites various studies that show that toddlers actually learn social skills from adults, not from other toddlers. So you shouldn't feel you're depriving your son of anything important if you cut back on the activities some.

Having said that...the whole problem could just be a matter of time. By which I mean, if you do decide to stick with the activities, your son might become comfortable with them more quickly than you expect. Of course that depends how long you've been doing them, and on whether your son's shyness seems to have plateaued or seems to be getting worse (if it's getting worse, I'd say to give the activities a miss).

I just know that with my DD, the first three or so times we took her to the local swimming pool (noisy and crowded) she was terrified and clung to me fiercely, but on the fourth visit there was a dramatic improvement and now she loves swimming pools, no matter how crowded. Just a thought anyway.
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Old 11-28-2009, 10:31 PM
 
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my DD is 24 months and she's been pretty shy with children since she was able to figure out that they existed. She's much better with adults, and very social with DH and I.
She has a little friend who she's seen every day for the last 3 months and only a couple of weeks ago did she ever express that she was comfortable being around him. Some times it just takes time.
I just let her progress at her own pace. I remember being a REALLY shy child and now I am very social, it just took me 12 years (literally) until I got there.

I think we try to project all sorts of expectations on what our children "should" be, like how much they talk, to whom and how comfortable they are with certain situations. I recommend just letting go and letting the children become themselves, even if that person is really shy. I am the first to admit that sometimes other people seem pretty strange! that's cause we are all beautifuly unique and it can take a little bit of time to figure out how to work within those differences.
all part of growing up, i suppose.
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