"Shy" Child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 01-18-2011, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter is "shy" -she is 3.5 yo.  Other than always looking for another word to describe what others label shy I am wondering if anyone knows of any books or resources that are more "embracing your shy child for who she is" vs "helping the child to overcome shyness".  I am looking for support for honoring her where she is at as well as a way to engage others in not trying to help (push) her in overcoming her "shyness".  Thanks!

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#2 of 5 Old 01-18-2011, 10:16 PM
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I'm so glad you posted this, I came here tonight looking for advice/info about this very subject. I have a 3 1/2 year old as well, who just does not seem particularly interested in other kids. if he wants to play/interact with someone, he seems to be able to, but mostly he gets tense if there are other kids around. You are not alone- I struggle with trying not to compare my child with other children who are so outgoing and seeking out of others. However, I feel like he's just not ready to be with other kids. Granted, I don't make too much of a push for it, but that's because he doesn't want to be around other kids. He prefers to leave the playground if there are other kids around. He will start crying if they get too close on the playground as if it really stresses him out. So I don't force things, but my husband is starting to push me to get him around other kids and I'm torn. I would have expected that he would want to play with other kids and would love it if he did, but I'm really fine with him not wanting to, but of course, I don't want him to miss out on something he might enjoy(if he would).

Anyway, I read the book, The Highly Sensitive Child and found that to describe my child perfectly, so that was very helpful and supportive- basically saying that it is a type of temperament and there is nothing strange about it, our society is just geared more towards not being sensitive, so the world can be a bit stressful for those roughly 20% who are highly sensitive. I found it interesting and helpful. The other book I really like is Naomi Aldort's, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, which gives a great support for respecting and trusting the child to know what he needs, and that whatever it is is ok. She really shows you how to question yourself to find were you are having resistance to whatever your child is doing, which I find helpful. And, of cours, Alfie Kohn's, Unconditional Parenting, is a wonderful book to help you realize how what you're doing effects your child(such as praise, punishments and rewards).

Good luck!


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#3 of 5 Old 01-19-2011, 04:31 AM
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Introvert vs. extrovert will give you some more search terms (seriously, type in "introvert" in the MDC search box and you'll get pages and pages of results). 


As I (and others) use the terms: an introvert is drained of energy while around other people (me and my DS, for example).  They can be perfectly sociable with great people skills, but after interacting with others, they need down time to recharge (some just need a quieter, calmer environment where they can relax, like home; extreme introverts would be happy to be in complete isolation for a while--think isolated cabin in the middle of the woods).  An extrovert gains energy from being around other people (my DH, for example); they come across as very outgoing.  Our society is definitely geared towards extroverts (particularly in our expectations of social behaviors/attitudes).


"Slow to warm up" is another phrase I've seen around MDC, so you can try searching on that as well.


I agree with the PP--it's a personality trait, not a character defect.  For some kids it can take a few years before they're comfortable enough in their own skin, and with their social skills, to come out of their shell and appear more outgoing.  Please don't push your DD to interact with others if she isn't ready yet.  Give her time, support, and practice social skills at home, amongst your immediate family.  The rest will come eventually, when she's ready.  When children want to interact with others, they will let you know (usually emphatically and repeatedly).

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#4 of 5 Old 01-21-2011, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Fritz, thanks for your kind words of support.  I really needed to here them!  I definitely know that my DD can be around other for but so long before she needs to be just with her immediate family in familar surroundings.  Angelandmisha-thanks for the recommendations.  I love love love Naomi Aldort's book (and her newsletter) and need to reread it.  Like you my husband is more of the "she'll get used it if she has no choice mind" and we are approaching possible preschool plus my DD started part-time daycare (with my good friend) which appears to be outside her comfort level.  angelandmisha I just recalled that Naomi Aldort's last newsletter adressed the whole "needs to be around other kids and away from mom" myth.

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#5 of 5 Old 01-21-2011, 10:46 AM
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 "Baby Hearts" is another book that looks at the four main personality types, including the "Slow to Warm" child, and summarizes current research on how to help a child develop empathy, self confidence, the ability to help others, etc.


As I recall, it does emphasize that it is a bad idea to "push" a Slow to Warm child into situations. 


However, as a shy child myself long ago, I really would have appreciated my parents working with me on tools -- how to approach a group on a playground and join in, how to invite others over, etc., etc.  Sometimes it felt like other kids had some sort of magic key as to how to interact with other kids.  I wish my parents had done more work in helping me understand how to get a key of my own since the whole thing wasn't coming naturally to me.

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