Embarassing behavior from my 4 yr. old... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, honestly, it was embarrassing but that isn't what worries me....

 

Today, dd's class was doing a little performance in their classroom.  Afterward they had muffins that the class had made for the parents and the students to eat.  They also had some bottled water.  So ds, during the performance sat in the chair next to me.  He was very well behaved, no talking or even fidgeting.  Then everyone was getting up to go get muffins and water.  He decided while he just wanted water, no big deal.  The group was fairly small, maybe 30 or so people total, but ds took his water to a corner and wouldn't move out of the corner.  No big deal again, I mean organized chaos is still chaos, so maybe he didn't like it.  At this point his sister was sitting next to her friend and she called ds over, so he walked over and as soon as he got there dd's friend said "hi".  Now mind you, ds is now standing in the only area between a table and the chairs for people to walk through.  She says "hi", he immediately drops to the floor curls up into a ball and won't move.  I had to push past people who were just trying to walk through to get to him.  He wouldn't move, he just stayed there.  By the time I got over there dd's teacher was trying to get him to get up and move, and ended up basically standing over him so that he didn't get run over.  I get over there, and she does this whole tsk tsk type thing and gives me this look that I don't want to interpret as bad, but it wasn't a "aww how cute" look either.  It was almost just a "what in the world is he doing" look.  I mumbled something about him not liking strangers and picked him up to get him out of the way. 

 

So, I am concerned that if that (literally 30 minutes) amount of time around people makes him curl up and shut down, what in the world is he going to do next fall when he starts school?  Should I be finding him playgroups, or maybe go ahead and put him in preschool? What would you do?  I mean I couldn't really apologize to the teacher for his behavior because getting him out of the way was the priority, but should I apologize to her? 

 

Just so you know, he's the only one of my kids that is ever quiet, so this is just strange for me.  DD is embarrassing because it is just her constant state of being.  She talks about inappropriate things, hugs people that don't want hugs, but she is clueless about it.  She has Asperger's and just really doesn't take cues from people's expressions. DS (13 yr.) is a sarcastic class clown, and ds (9 yrs. old) loves talking as long as it is about a topic he likes.  So my kids are quite social, except this one.  I really have no clue how to react.  Most days that I take him out I spend half my time saying, "sorry, he doesn't like strangers" "he's shy" "don't take offense he doesn't talk to anyone he doesn't know" etc etc etc etc etc.  He is a cutey with big blue eyes, so we often get comments like, "wow what beautiful eyes" at which point he quickly hides behind me, unless I'm in a long skirt at which point he has literally crawled under my skirt to hide. 

 

So, what would you do to get him ready for a classroom setting?  Oh and should I go out of my way to apologize for his behavior to the teacher?


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#2 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 02:37 PM
 
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Don't worry about the teacher.  He did what he needed to do at the time to feel ok, and you did everything you could at the time, in a timeous fashion, to minimise any potential disruption he might have caused.  Neither of you have anything to apologise for.

 

I have a VERY sociable kid, but she was painfully shy around certain people until she was about 3.5.  She would literally hide in the sling for 50mins at a soft play area because another child had screamed (not at her) - we thought she had SPD but she seems to be coping much much better of late so we're not pursuing a dx.  I had plenty of people tell me it was my own fault for being AP with her/baby+child-wearing/BFing/whatever they saw me do that they didn't do.  Let it wash over you, you know your parenting isn't at fault, and you know you have a sweet kid, he's just shy.

 

As to what you should "do" - i don't know.  I took DD everywhere i wanted, but i always gave her the hide-in-the-sling option - it was a homemade sling, made of red linen, which by the end she rarely rode in but frequently hid under on my lap.  Time cured her.  She's 5 in April and still a little spooked by big crowds but also much more confident about making friends.  I took her to toddler groups, songtimes and story times, but honestly i think it was age and maturity that made the difference.  Not anything i "did".

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#3 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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I don't really have any advice, but it sounds a lot like my younger sister. she had speech delays because she had such severe ear infections as a toddler. and any time she was expected to speak to a stranger she would completely shut down. we always had to be very careful about her being put on the spot, and even through most of elementary school all of her friends had a sister my age so that she would never be without her sister when she went to her friends' houses so that she wouldn't have to talk to the parents. she ended up doing speech therapy in 6th and 7th grades, and she was able to build the confidence to talk to people. now she's going to college a 5 hour drive from home, and doing really well. 


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#4 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 03:05 PM
 
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My kids are all shy--just sensitive in general.  Lots of people, noise, stimuli and new situationtends to make them freeze or even hide.  I don't think what your son did was embarrassing, it was just that he has a different reaction to the situation than most kids do.  It makes me feel really sorry for him that he was so overwhelmed!

 

I was nervous about putting my oldest DD in preschool because that's how she is, too.  But I also felt like it was important for her to get a little desnsitized to the chaos of school and other kids.  I put her in a playgroup.  I made several visits to the school with her the 6 months leading up to her start date, to help get her familiar to the environment and teacher.  I chose a co-op preschool so that I could be there working once a week to help her adjust.  That environment is different than a traditional school, IMO, because it's got a loving atmosphere of parents.  Because its a co-op, I was also able to connect with other parents during the summer (school started in the fall) and have play dates and park meet ups with them so DD wouldn't be walking into a room of strangers.

 

 think a lot of it is just learning that sensitive kids have different needs.  Like, when we're going to do a new activity, I now know that my DD has to get there early.  She needs time to warm up to the environment and does better when people start showing up one by one.  If I bring her to a new dance class, for example, and she walks in the new room to see a new teacher and a group of other little girls she doesn't know, it's way too much to take in and she would spent the whole class clinging to me, hiding behind me, whining that she can't do it, etc etc.  Total opposite reaction if we've worked up to it.  It's nothing she can help, it has definite benefits at times, but since it's not what society tends to expect, some people are judgmental about it.

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#5 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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Next fall is a very long time, it is amazing how much he will have changed from now. Or maybe he won't, lol.

 

I do not think his behaviour is something ot be embarassed about, or alarmed over. Your DDs teacher was over-reacting if she found his behaviour annoying, but kuddos to her for protecting him.

 

You should join some playgroups if it makes you feel better, just don't pressure your son into participating until he is ready.

 

I come from a family of introverted and shy (two different personalities) people. The little kids are hilarious with their blank stares and immobile postures when confronted by strangers.


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#6 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe my issue is just that I'm not shy, none of the other kids are shy, so I'm having a hard time understanding him.  I wish I could help him with this but if I ask him why he does these things, then all of a sudden he'll curl up and hide from me.  It is so aggravating to me, simply because I've got three that won't stop talking, and then it's hard to get him to talk to me when I want to understand what is going through his head.  I'm used to telling children to stop talking, not begging them to start talking.

 

I do have to say, he does do a little better if it's one on one.  So Spring Lily you have a point there.  But even then, one on one, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for him to warm up to any stranger, and then he'll answer questions but he won't actually start a conversation with them.  I haven't had him near a stranger one on one long enough to see how long it would take for him to start a conversation.  Me, I'm the annoying one that will start a conversation if I've got 30 seconds available.  I just need to get some perspective on him and how he sees things.  Why is this world so scary to him? 


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#7 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 04:08 PM
 
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You might want to consider that your DS may be Highly Sensitive. There is a questionnaire on the page that is a useful tool in finding out if your little guy is HS. If so, I urge you to read The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. My DS1 is certainly highly sensitive, which, as a HS person myself, I have always been in tune with and able to understand and relate to. My DH, not so much. Reading the book really helped him understand DS's behavior and it really improved their relationship. 

 

The thing I would do first, is make sure I am not using the term "shy" in a negative way.  Often, introversion is mistaken for shyness. They are two very different things.

 

I'm short on time, but feel free to PM me if you'd like some examples of things we do to help DS feel more comfortable in this big world full of loud, strange people. ; )

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#8 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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I realise this is a pretty huge thing to suggest, but do you think he might be a good candidate for homeschooling - maybe even just for a year, until he develops some more maturity and confidence? (Or even just plain delaying school until 6, if that's legal where you live.) Does he go to any sort of kindy/preschool, and if so, does he do OK there?


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#9 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 04:19 PM
 
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Kindergarten should be less overwhelming by simple virtue of it being a room of people who are all about his height--instead of a room filled with adults and older children.

 

Also, the classroom should bustle rather than being controlled chaos, and quieter than a room full of people chattering away about a performance and what sort of muffins there are, etc, etc.

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#10 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Smokering, I have thought about it.  But I would like to try him in a classroom before I decide to pull him and homeschool.  I know it sounds selfish but I am actually looking forward to getting a job after he starts school.  Now, I will most definately do whatever is best for him, but I've been at home for 10 yrs. and will have been for 11 yrs. by the time he starts school.  I gave up a career when I got pregnant with my oldest, and I don't at all regret it, but I can't lie and say that I'm not looking forward to getting a job again. 

 

With all that said, I hope you know that I would never put a job ahead of what is best for my child, I am just really hoping to prepare him for the school setting so that he is ready and can be successful.


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#11 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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I don't have any advice, but I can tell you what happened with my daughter:  I put her in a mom's day out type program (two days a week for a few hours) when she was 3 because she was soooo incredibly shy... the most shy kid I had ever known.  She started in August that year, and when I went to her school's Christmas program in December, one of her two teachers told me, "I haven't heard Anna Kate talk yet."  I said, "Excuse me?"  and she reiterated that she had not yet heard my daughter say a single word in the 4 months she had been in her class.  I was shocked, first of all that she hadn't said anything at school in four months, and secondly that the teachers hadn't mentioned it to me before then!  Anyway, the point of this story is that NOW that same daughter is a total social butterfly.  I don't know how it happened, and it definitely wasn't overnight, but she juts turned 5, and she makes "best friends" everywhere she goes!  She takes a gymnastics class once a week now, and three of the other moms have told me, "My daughter says Anna Kate is her best friend!"  Last week, she got the "Best Attitude" and "Silly Willy" awards because she is so friendly to the other girls & is always happy & laughing & making jokes.  It's just amazing how much she's come out of her shell.  So I say (a) get him in a playgroup or a mom's day out type program, and (b) give him a little time.  Even if he doesn't have a complete transformation like my daughter did, I'm betting he will be at least a bit more outgoing by the time he starts "real" school.

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#12 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamieCole View Post

You might want to consider that your DS may be Highly Sensitive. There is a questionnaire on the page that is a useful tool in finding out if your little guy is HS. If so, I urge you to read The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. My DS1 is certainly highly sensitive, which, as a HS person myself, I have always been in tune with and able to understand and relate to. My DH, not so much. Reading the book really helped him understand DS's behavior and it really improved their relationship. 

 

The thing I would do first, is make sure I am not using the term "shy" in a negative way.  Often, introversion is mistaken for shyness. They are two very different things.

 

I'm short on time, but feel free to PM me if you'd like some examples of things we do to help DS feel more comfortable in this big world full of loud, strange people. ; )



 I took the test and some of it really almost made me laugh because it reminded me so much of him.  He got 16 True which it states could mean he's highly sensitive.  What got me was it asked if he liked to change his clothes if they are sandy or wet.  This morning before taking him to the Dr. I got him a drink and he spilled some on his clothes, he almost had a meltdown when I told him we didn't have the time to go back home and change.  Just yesterday he got a little bit of water on his sleeve while washing his hands and we were out of the house so I had to roll up his sleeves so that the water wasn't touching his skin.  I hadn't even thought of that being even slightly connected to the other behaviors, but apparently they may be.

 

I am going to be looking for that book next time I have some money.  Thank you.


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#13 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 07:01 PM
 
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You are so welcome! Another Mama on MDC recommended the book to me and I am so thankful to her. It was such a relief to be able to realize that there wasn't anything wrong with my boy...that 20% of the population is highly sensitive and that it is totally normal, albeit not super common. (It made ME feel like less of a freak as well. heh) Even if your DS isn't a highly sensitive person overall, there are great ideas in the book with how to deal with individual issues to which your child IS sensitive. I read the book and was nodding the entire time. If I recall, there is even a chapter that deals with how to best prepare a HS child for school if non-home schooling is chosen. (It's been a bit since I read it, and I don't own the book. Sometimes different parenting books run together in my brain.) 

 

Re: the wet clothes thing...been there, done that. DS1 insists on changing his shirt if it gets a drop of water on it. Luckily it doesn't rain much around here. ;)

 

And check your library before you buy the book. My local library did not have a copy, but a different library in the county system did, so I put it on hold and was able to get it transfered to my library within a week or so of requesting it. 

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#14 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petie1104 View Post
  Most days that I take him out I spend half my time saying, "sorry, he doesn't like strangers" "he's shy" "don't take offense he doesn't talk to anyone he doesn't know" etc etc etc etc etc.  


 

I've heard that saying things like the above can make 'shyness' worse for some kids.  If they are labeled as 'shy', or that they "dont like strangers" and  "doesnt talk to new people"  then they live up to that expectation.   

 

Maybe just dont give an explanation for him.  Most people realize that some kids wont want to say something to a stranger.  

 

My ds is very outgoing and talks to everyone, but he has his moments where someone will ask him something and he acts 'shy', if the person comments on this (saying oh are you being shy?" or something like that), he continues with the "shy" behavior hiding behind me and whatever, but if the other person or I respond by saying something like "you know the answer to that question, your THREE years old" in an upbeat way, then he usually says "yeah I am" or at least nods his head.  

 

In my experience, kids often act the way you state that they act. 

 

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#15 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 08:27 PM
 
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Smokering, I have thought about it.  But I would like to try him in a classroom before I decide to pull him and homeschool.  I know it sounds selfish but I am actually looking forward to getting a job after he starts school.  Now, I will most definately do whatever is best for him, but I've been at home for 10 yrs. and will have been for 11 yrs. by the time he starts school.  I gave up a career when I got pregnant with my oldest, and I don't at all regret it, but I can't lie and say that I'm not looking forward to getting a job again. 

 

With all that said, I hope you know that I would never put a job ahead of what is best for my child, I am just really hoping to prepare him for the school setting so that he is ready and can be successful.

LOL - don't panic, I wasn't trying to imply you're a bad mother if you don't! I just wondered if the option had occurred to you. I totally understand the itch to get back into the workforce.


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#16 of 18 Old 11-23-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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How funny, this is the exact book I was thinking of as I wrote my post!  That book is wonderful, it made me feel like my DD and I don't have picky, weird quirks, more that our preferences and reactions are biologically explainable.  I highly recommend it!  I also borrowed it from the library, you should check that before buying it if you don't have the extra money right now.

 

I wanted to add about the "shy" terminology, I totally agree about being careful using that word.  Instead of labelling my kids shy, I tell strangers "She's just feeling shy right now."  My DD has come to see shyness as a temporary state of being, so when she starts warming up she tells me "I don't feel shy anymore!"  and runs off and acts like the other kids.

 

I had to laugh about one of the PP's little girl not talking at school.  My DD didn't say one word to her teacher--who she talked about daily at home in glowing terms--until she had been in school for 4 months!  I think some of it has to do with maturity, too.  Sometimes it's good to put them in reasonably challenging situations, like school, so they have the opportunity to grow.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamieCole View Post

You might want to consider that your DS may be Highly Sensitive. There is a questionnaire on the page that is a useful tool in finding out if your little guy is HS. If so, I urge you to read The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. My DS1 is certainly highly sensitive, which, as a HS person myself, I have always been in tune with and able to understand and relate to. My DH, not so much. Reading the book really helped him understand DS's behavior and it really improved their relationship. 

 

The thing I would do first, is make sure I am not using the term "shy" in a negative way.  Often, introversion is mistaken for shyness. They are two very different things.

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#17 of 18 Old 11-24-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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I'd like to second (or third) the Highly sensitive child - it is a brilliant book, DS1 is 6 1/2 and is still no good with groups of strangers and will squeak and hide. I remember him lying on the floor of the supermarket in a ball and me trying to coax him up, my mum walked away and a helpful stranger said i should just leave him. There are lots of positives to being highly sensitive but it is hard when people think your child is just odd and you are a bad parent. 


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#18 of 18 Old 11-24-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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Maybe my issue is just that I'm not shy, none of the other kids are shy, so I'm having a hard time understanding him.  I wish I could help him with this but if I ask him why he does these things, then all of a sudden he'll curl up and hide from me.  It is so aggravating to me, simply because I've got three that won't stop talking, and then it's hard to get him to talk to me when I want to understand what is going through his head.  I'm used to telling children to stop talking, not begging them to start talking.

 

I do have to say, he does do a little better if it's one on one.  So Spring Lily you have a point there.  But even then, one on one, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes for him to warm up to any stranger, and then he'll answer questions but he won't actually start a conversation with them.  I haven't had him near a stranger one on one long enough to see how long it would take for him to start a conversation.  Me, I'm the annoying one that will start a conversation if I've got 30 seconds available.  I just need to get some perspective on him and how he sees things.  Why is this world so scary to him? 

 

Bolding mine. I'll put this as gently as possible, but if you ask him why he does these things, how can he do anything except feel awful about himself? He will only see he is not as good (read extroverted) as you and his siblings. This can backfire and make him clam up even more and be more introverted. And if you keep telling him, or other people when he can clearly hear you, that he is shy, then he will only become more shy, not less so.

 

Maybe because you and your other three children are so social, you have extremely high expectations for extroversion. Maybe your son is slightly shy, or a little shy, but because you are such extroverts, he seems an introvert, when in reality he is only an introvert in comparison to the rest of you.

 

You say it takes him 5-10 minutes to warm up to a stranger. In my book this is not shy, this is normal. Many kids hold back, watch the scenes unfold, and only join in after 10 minutes, or even 30 minutes, or maybe only after having met the person a few times first. Many people enjoy one on one a lot more, or even 2 or 3, but are not overjoyed when presented with a huge group of 30 people. It does not make them afraid of the world, it only means they enjoy a few people they know better than 30 strangers. So what may be best for this type of person would be a few consistent play dates with 1 or 2 other kids. I encourage you to step back and accept him and respect him the way he is. Stop trying to change him. It will only hurt his feelings and damage his confidence, knowing he is never quite measuring up to your standards. 
 

I have one very social extrovert. She gets every social cue, is very popular, tries everything and knows the world is at her feet. I have one thoughtful, introvert. He misses some social cues, has a few close friends and does not like huge gatherings. He will not be the first to run up to strangers and say hi, I am X, lets do Y. In fact, he may be the last. But when I coaxed and encouraged him to join in, it only backfired and made him feel bad. When I backed off completely, and let him slowly join in, at his own pace, and respected that he would know what he was / was not comfortable with, he blossomed. My boy who used to sweat in pure terror on walking into a room with 50 people will now watch a few minutes, eventually play with the other kids, and by the end will have built a fort for all the kids and will be directing the play. He is not going to be the the first to start up the football game, but he is loved and he will be one of the first picked for the team. He has his friends and is happy. Part of it was age. He is much more extroverted at 6 than he was at 3. But I think part of it was letting him be the person he is, and respecting that completely. Let your son lead. He will do it, his own way. 

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