Raising an assertive kid when mama's kind of shy??? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lately I notice DS is just very hesitant to speak up, walk around other kids in his way, say 'no', etc. He most often just stands on the fringe of a group and keep quiet. He handles disappointment really well but I don't want him to always be disappointed and I really want him to feel comfortable making his requests known, standing up for himself, not being a push-over, etc. I am super quiet, shy, reserved... and I guess I really want to instill the opposite characteristics in him, but I don't know how. If he wants something, he won't ask for it, he'll just sit and stare at it or quietly ask me for it... but I don't always know how to get it. lol.gif I know that sounds ridiculous but I have yet to perfect the art of politely interrupting/asking for something/etc. So I am not only the world's worst role model in this department, but I'm also a failure at helping him get whatever it is he wants. How can I help him be more assertive when I don't have a clue how to be so myself??? (Obviously most of the time I AM able to get whatever he wants/needs but there are so many times that we both just stand there trying to figure it out and/or the opportunity passes...) Oh and I really want him to understand that he can say 'no' (and we talk about this often) but he seems to think he needs to say 'yes' to everything from "Did you fly here in a spaceship" to "Do you want a hug?" (when he really doesn't want to be touched)... It's actually become a joke with some family because they really haven't ever heard him say 'no'...

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Old 03-20-2011, 09:50 PM
 
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DD is the same way! I'm noy sure why shes that way though because I'm more assertive and really not shy at all. Her dad isnt shy at all but hates confrontation. I hope some others post because I would love to help dd become a little more assertive

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Old 03-21-2011, 12:10 AM
 
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For us I think DD was born with an heightened sense of self and others.  This seems to ultimately translate into shyness-- Too much thinking.   Fear of judgment or criticism.  Imagining worse consequences.  High standards for herself.  Perfectionism.  Inaction.  Muteness.  Lack of assertiveness.  Because if you don't do anything or say anything 'they' can't think anything about you, right?

 

If an adult were sitting at the table eating french fries my DD would stare back and forth from the adult to the french fries, pace, wring her hands, lick her lips, and maybe after minutes and minutes, come up to me and without making eye contact she'd whisper that she would like a fry seemingly shamed to request such a thing.

 

My DN would slide over a chair, climb up on the table, and grab a handful of fries, and eat them as fast she could in case she would be stopped.

 

It is just personality.  I would guess inherited, not learned.

 

As far as what to do?  I can only recommend rolepalying.  Practice through play.  That and look for examples of characters being assertive in literature.  or even history.  Also, I believe that you cannot and should not try to change your child's temperament.  You can help him understand what he is feeling and brainstorm ways for him to cope with these feelings.  You can model the use of self-supportive thoughts when you feel overwhelmed with anxiety.  And finally, in a society that devalues introversion, shyness, and sensitivity, continue to be his advocate, especially when he is so young!

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Old 03-21-2011, 05:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemenope View Post
If an adult were sitting at the table eating french fries my DD would stare back and forth from the adult to the french fries, pace, wring her hands, lick her lips, and maybe after minutes and minutes, come up to me and without making eye contact she'd whisper that she would like a fry seemingly shamed to request such a thing.

 

My DN would slide over a chair, climb up on the table, and grab a handful of fries, and eat them as fast she could in case she would be stopped.

 

It is just personality.  I would guess inherited, not learned.

I agree.  DD's always been very assertive pretty much from day 1.  She's had bouts of shyness but they've normally been short lived (and are normally situationally, for instance, if she feels off in a situation for some reason or other).  However, she'd totally be the kid stealing french fries, she actually did that with a piece of bread off of my plate this morning!!!! irked.gif

 

DH and I both went through shy phases during school but I think that had a lot more to do with our respective school situations than an underlying personality trait. 

 

I guess, the best thing you can do is model and possible talk to him about how sometimes you are afraid to speak up/be assertive too but that you have to push through it to do XYZ.

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Old 03-22-2011, 09:08 AM
 
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I agree that it is probably your ds's personality and no matter what you do, you won't make him more assertive than he is. But I know where you're coming from my ds 1 (now 5.5) is extremely reserved and shy. It would be very frustrating to dh (very exroverted) to deal with ds in social/public situations. I guess since I was able to understand ds's social anxiety and sensitivities I wasn't as concerned, although at times it was difficult when I hoped for him to make friends. He does make friends now but usually only after long contact (regular playdates, daycare, preschool and now school). Consistency and plenty of time is what he needs in social situations. He will not make a quick friend at the park or anything like that but then neither do I. 

 

I did find that I really had to push myself out of my shell sometimes to try and model social behaviors for him. This is also really hard for me in new situations and with new people. He hasn't followed my lead.....yet, but I still think he's learning about interactions when he sees me and others interacting. He's also learned a lot about social interactions at school. He still doesn't initiate play very well with his peers but he interacts with kids he knows well ,especially if he is familiar with the parameters of the play. This is actually the one point that "needs improvement" and is commented on during his parent teacher conferences. I'm not worried because it is his personality and he'll learn more skills as he goes.

 

I would focus on providing a lot of opportunities to play with peers and hopefully the same children. I know my ds would be more comfortable at that age (and now) with one on one play dates at one of the childs home or our home. He was generally less comfortable at parks or play areas with all the other kids around. The role playing is also a great idea, we worked on that more as ds's language skills improved.

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Old 03-22-2011, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's good to read the responses, because I guess I thought *I* was making him like this. I'm so quiet and reserved and I thought I wasn't modeling social skills properly and somehow failing him. Thinking of it as more an inborn part of his personality does help.

We do role play, especially situations where someone might touch him (he gets scared when people touch him but doesn't say 'no' or 'put me down' or anything) but it doesn't seem like my role-playing is very effective. To be honest, I'm terrified that this could lead him to be victimized ('easy target'?), which is one of the reasons (among many others) that I have not left him with anyone yet... I try to be very in-tune to him and say something immediately if I can tell something is making him uncomfortable. Hopefully eventually he'll learn HE can say something as well.

He does get lots of opportunities to play with similar-age kids that he has gotten to know well (and he loves it!! even though he doesn't talk to them at all!! lol!)

I don't think there's anything 'wrong' with being shy but for myself it's a painful way to live. I would love to be able to just TALK to someone normally, without that undercurrent of anxiety and inhibition. I think I'm an extrovert in the sense that interacting with people is what I thrive on, except that it is sooo hard for me to interact. I'm not one of those introverts that is happy hanging around the house and doing solo activities. I've come out of my shell a ton over the last 5-10 years but it still doesn't come naturally to me to speak up or share my thoughts. Having a kid has helped a ton too because of that strong urge to protect him and provide for him and want the best for him....

Maybe I worry too much...

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Old 03-22-2011, 09:05 PM
 
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My daughter takes a few minutes to warm up and seems initially nervous around people but seems to love interaction with other children and often initiates it but I really do see that her personality is on the more introverted side and that she needs encouragement to warm up. I find that if she is somewhere familiar, like the Children's museum we go to regularly she is ok but in new situations she tends to hang back quite a bit. DH and I are both very social introverts, we love social interaction but we are both initially very quiet so I do think she comes by her personality genetically. I have been working on it a lot over that past few years although it is still quite a handicap so I really encourage DD to play around other kids as much as possible so she is used to being ar ound people which definitely is easy in Manhattan but she still isn't naturally assertive and I am starting to wonder if it is a good idea to teach her to grab things back from other children. 


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