How far do you go to "help" your sensitive/shy child? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-11-2010, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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We just had an awful morning getting my 7yo DD off to school. This is the second week after winter break, but they had 2 snow days last week (Thur and Fri), so I think part of the problem is having had so much time off. Plus, there were a couple of incidents with a girl in her class who is her friend being teasing and a little mean to her and now she's DREADING going to school.

This morning she didn't start getting upset until about 5 minutes before we had to leave. Then she starts saying how she wants to stay home today. To make matters worse, when she cries her eyes and face get really red and blotchy and she's aware of this and really self-conscious about people seeing her like that, but it only gets worse as long as she's crying.

I took her and decided to come in and have a quick word with her teacher just to let her know about the situation with this other girl. As I was going in she said she didn't want me to come in, and I should have just left it at that, but I went ahead in to talk to her teacher. I really wanted her to be okay before I left, but she just kept getting more upset, crying and begging me to just let her stay home today. I knew I couldn't do that and had to leave her there and it just destroyed me to leave her there and walk away, her crying and begging me to take her home.

Okay, I know I didn't do the right thing by going in. I really don't feel like I know how to handle this situation. She tends to do this, start to get upset right before we have to go. Then she gets more upset because she's getting upset and her face is getting red. I don't have the time to sit there and work through it with her at that moment, but I really don't want to just brush her feelings aside and plow on with our day.

I'm super sensitive about this because she's just like I was growing up, shy, sensitive, nervous and uncomfortable dealing with other people. I felt like my mother didn't spend enough time helping me with it and I felt really alone a lot growing up. I DO NOT want my daughter to feel alone in this, but I don't know how to help her.

What do others with sensitive children do?
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#2 of 10 Old 01-11-2010, 11:55 PM
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A great book, IMO, is "Raising Resilient Children." It will help you guide her to deal with these situations herself. In the mean time, have a conversation with her about what's going on with this girl and ask your daughter what "she" thinks would help fix the situation. Kids will have surprisingly insightful ideas themselves. If her ideas don't work, you could help out with some different suggestions.

And I'd talk to the teacher again about it, but either on the phone or in a parent/teacher conference type setting away from your daughter and other students. There might be some real bullying going on.
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#3 of 10 Old 01-12-2010, 09:42 AM
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I know how draining this is.

We went through much of this yesterday with dd2, 7 in Feb. She cried at piano lessons (just going in, she came out gioggling with accolades from her teacher), she cried at gymnastics (just going in, though she did come out tired and hungry), she is homeschooled but she also cried getting out of bed. It totally wore me out. I talked at length last night and what I came away with in my dd's case is perfectionism without enough positive feedback, fear of failure. Apparently I am tough and demanding and a perfectionist myself.

I need more help with this (it is wearing me out terrribly) so I will look into the above mentioned book but I also wanted to offer te words that you are not alone.

You don’t owe them an explanation, just a response.
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#4 of 10 Old 01-12-2010, 01:30 PM
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I think you should ask the teacher to look into the friend situation and help your dd find solutions. It may help to talk to her about what she can do when a friend is mean to her; walk away, talk to the duty teacher, talk to her teacher, ask to see the counselor to talk to her, etc... Friendships are really hard as a child and I find that it hurts me to see dd going through the rough times with friends, but things usually blow over quickly. I also think you should talk to her about things that she does need to go do because they aren't a choice and things that are a choice, and tell her that she can look at the bad side or she can try to think of the positive things. I encourage you to talk up the positive things rather than encouraging her to feel sorry for herself and stop talking if she gets more worked up.
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#5 of 10 Old 01-15-2010, 03:28 PM
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I wanted to add two other suggestions. My DS can be shy like I was. I work really hard to not label him - i.e. when someone talks to him and he doesn't feel like responding I don't make excuses by saying "oh, he's shy..." I just smile and change the subject, maybe offer a shrug to the person while doing it. I was called shy when I was little and I hated it, it made it worse for me.

Later, I might ask him what he felt or thought but in a conversational way. I don't make a big deal out of it and I'll tell him occasionally that its his choice to talk or not. As he's gotten older we talk about manners but, again, if he doesn't want to visit he doesn't have to.

Well, back on subject to your question - DS had a hard time starting kindergarten this year. Once class started he did okay but the separating was hard for him. Then, about two weeks in, the class bully had found him. When I would try to help by giving suggestions on how to handle the other kid my son would get angry. I finally figured out that he felt my suggestions meant he had handled it wrong or that I thought he couldn't handle it. So, one day I just listened, asked how it made him feel and asked him what he thought he could do next time.

At first he said he didn't know. So, I told him I knew he would figure it out and changed the subject - no dwelling on it. DH and I both told him we had faith in him and believed he could do it. Well, it was like we had stuck a feather in his cap. After a few days he started to come up with ideas on how to handle new situations that had occurred. Some were pure fantasy and some might work. We'd remind him the next morning to try one or two if the same situation came up and him being armed with his own ideas seemed to help. Then, after more of just listening he started to ask us what we would do and then the door was open for our ideas. But, we kept them to a minimum and wanted him to figure it out. His favorite right now is just to reply "so?" if the kid makes an ugly comment. We had a lot of laughs practicing it at home.

Fast forward to now and he is much more confident in his abilities to handle this other boy. He still has some hard days but overall his confidence has boomed.

So, my suggestion would be help her figure out how to fix it herself. Do a lot of listening and keep that door to conversation open. There were so many days I wanted to protect him and solve it for him (no one likes to see their kid hurt, yk what I mean) but I learned that many days he just needed a shoulder to cry on.
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#6 of 10 Old 01-15-2010, 03:57 PM
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(teacher speaking)
Finding one close friend can really make a huge difference. Can you chat with the teacher about who might make a good friend and try setting up some playdates? Knowing that there is someone a more shy child can stick with can be a huge benefit.
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#7 of 10 Old 01-16-2010, 06:18 AM
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Maybe you can change your morning routine to give your dd a lot more time to wake up and mentally prepare for her day? My dd does better when she has had a while to be awake and eat a good breakfast- maybe even to talk over her concerns for the day before it really starts.

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#8 of 10 Old 01-22-2010, 02:11 AM
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subbing bc I have an extremely shy dd. She does reasonably well going in to school and such bc of her friends, and the routine, but she is terrified of public anything. If anything deviates from normal,then she gets she hadto turn a special paper in to her teacher and she was a wreck about it. The Christmas program at school, the singing at the baseball game etc. have her in tears. It is so sad. My dh was the same way growing up and he thinks it is genetic...I have no idea.

I signed my dd up for acting class. She wasn't too excited, but I talked another mom into putting her dd into it and then my dd was thrilled. They've only gone once and I told the teacher(away from my dd) that she is extremely shy and I'm hoping this will kind of be therapeutic for her. I sat outside and they did all sorts of exercises(about 7 children) and I think she enjoyed pretending to bark like a dog and do emotional sort of things. WHO knows. It is tough.
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#9 of 10 Old 02-01-2010, 03:02 AM
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Maybe there will be some things in this article that will help you:
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#10 of 10 Old 02-01-2010, 12:35 PM
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Honestly the thing that jumped out at me, and it's minor, was about how her face turns red when she cries and that makes her more self conscious. A cold, wet washrag can work wonders on that. If she's already shy and having a rough day, knowing that everyone can tell she's been crying - and will probably give her unwanted attention asking about it, can be HUGE at that age and just keeps the spiral going and makes a rough situation a lot worse. To us it's a little thing, but I'd definitely use the washcloth trick on mornings like this. It's a small thing that can help turn her back to a more positive state if that makes any sense?

I agree with helping her find her own solutions. At 7 years old she's old enough to understand more advanced concepts (than say at 4 yrs old) and personally I'd sit down and just tell her that you were cautious at her age like she is so you know exactly how she feels. Tell her straight out that you always have her back, but don't always know what she wants you to do to help her and see what she says.

We have a 7 yr old DS who is a lot like your DD and he was invited to a movie party last weekend. He's never been at a "strangers" house without me or DH there and we had some tears, a lot of waffling of if we would go, etc. I just told him that I had always been like that too, and that looking back I feel like I missed a lot by not giving it a try and I didn't want him to feel that way when he was old like me. He may not have grasped all the nuances of it, but he could get where I was coming from. In the end he went and had a complete BLAST, and we later talked a little about how it had definitely been worth it to overcome his fears and take a chance and go. I try to look very hard for instances like that for him where he can have success after success when he overcomes his shyness, and always mention just a quick word about how I'm glad he had a good time and didn't that turn out not to be so scary after all (and then drop it). I started this when he was 3 and his nature was becoming obvious, and between that and just growing up, I'm really seeing differences, though it's baby steps all the way! Oh and I never use the word "shy" in front of DS. I always use "cautious" because I think being labelled "shy" has connotations of something being wrong with a person, whereas "cautious" is not necessarily considered a bad thing, kwim?

Good luck!
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