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Old 02-17-2012, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

 

I wrote a few months back about my dd (now age 4) who is extremely attached to me and doesn't try new things or do anything unless I am literally by her side.  I am still struggling with this.  I'm trying really hard to accept her as she is, but I can't help but feel really worried, and wonder if I should be doing things differently.

 

We attend a preschool class twice a week.  Having to be literally by her side every second is not only somewhat tiring, but it just seems so extreme.  For example, we recently had a valentines party.  While the kids sat at the snack table, the parents were up fixing them a plate of party food.  I was about 4 feet away, totally within her view.  She couldn't do it.  She ended up getting food with me.  Another example, if the kids need to walk up and get bells out of the box for dance time, or at the end of class, the teacher always stamps their hand, I have to walk with her.  I don't get to sit and wait less than 3 feet away while she goes.  I am the only adult doing these things, by the way.  Those are just small examples, but it is like this all the time.  Kids climbing on the jungle gym?  Well, I'm up there with her.  She won't play at a park unless I am literally right there.

 

I guess my issue is, should I be doing things differently?  Should i push her more?  Should i go ahead and sign her up for a class she takes without me?  (although, I literally don't see how I would even go about that, I think she would run after me rather than stay).  To explain myself more, I need to tell this story of potty training. I am a very, "let things happen when they happen parent" I always believed things would happen on their own when the kid was ready.  I took this approach with potty training.  As time went on, it just started escalating.  She had ZERO interest and would not even sit on the potty and acted afraid of it.  I tried very natural things, letting her go without a diaper.  She ended up with 2 UTI's because she didn't want to use the potty or wet herself.  From her 2nd bday to her 3rd bday, she literally didn't touch a potty.  At the same time, she also started HATING us having to wipe her vulva area when she got poop in it.  It became a constant battle.  We had MANY, MANY conversations.  EVERY single time the potty came up, she would duck her head, act embarrassed or ashamed (my interpretation based on body language) and say NOTHING.   This is a girl who is very articulate and talks about everything.  Finally, after her 3rd bday, we forced the issue a bit and she got rewards for at least sitting on the potty and getting used to how it feels.  I finally realized that this couldn't go on, especially the struggle to get her clean after pooping.  By now, her 4th bday was approaching.  I gave her date that diapers were being taken away.  The date came when she was 3 yrs 8 months. I was deathly afraid of another UTI, but was at the end of my rope.  The day came, she did great and has used the potty awesome ever since, though she still has never pooped but at home, and we do sometimes "make" her go.

 

The reason I tell that story is because elements of the attached to me thing remind me of the potty.  After my potty experience it really made me wish I had done things differently rather than letting the negative feelings surrounding it go on for so long.  It made me wish I had started "potty training" at like 16 months before she could talk herself out of it.  Like the potty, whenever I try to have conversations about doing something without mommy, playing with other kids, etc, she clams up and gives very similiar body language as when we tried to talk about the potty.  My husband and have both said, maybe we talk too much and just need to shut up, but when there is an issue, how can I help if I don't get any feedback on it?  To this day, I don't know why she was so anti potty.  A big part of me says, just let it go, and let her get a little bit more independend on her own, but I remember the potty and start to think maybe I should MAKE things happen, you know?  I am really struggling with the "right" way to handle this.  I know I shouldn't do this, but it also makes it hard that her behavior is so extreme.  Even the other quiet kids in the class will sit at the playdoh table and let their mom pull up a chair at the end of the table not right next to them.  My dd will grab my hand if I go 2 inches from her body.  No joke.  It is hard not to compare her to the other kids, most of whom seem to have no interest in being with their mom.  Many of them, when they need their mom, call her and don't even panic if she isn't right there, They just go looking for her.  It is so hard to see how upset my daughter gets so easily.  I can't imagine if she looked up and i had steppe outside or something.

 

 

I'm sorry this was so long, but I just want to handle this in a way that helps her, not cripples her, you know?  I worry about this a lot.


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Old 02-17-2012, 12:45 PM
 
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I think you need to strike the right balance.  Yes, maybe you could push a bit, but at the same time you want to be really careful you don't push too much, or it will have the opposite effect (make her more clingy rather than less).

 

Is she ok with being left with a caregiver?  If that's something she's not used to maybe you should start there.  Ask a close relative or friend if they would come over and watch her.  She would have the familiarity of being at her own house, and the one-on-one attention to help her with any sad feelings, and there wouldn't be the potentially overwhelming numbers that you would have in a class.  I would start very small.  Tell her exactly what's going to happen (you're going out for x amount of time) and be absolutely true to your word.  Go for a very short time at first (I'm going to run out and get some milk - I'll be back in 10 mins).  Build the trust and the acceptance that you will always come back.  Radiate confidence that she will be ok, that you know she is able to cope.

 

Another thought: sometimes the clinginess comes out most around mom.  What if you dh tried taking her to a class/group?  Sometimes kids react differently with different parents.  Worth a try anyway.

 

ETA - a thought about the park.  What if you (again) started small.  Take her to a small playground at an "off" time (meaning a time when there aren't likely to be a lot of kids there).  What would happen if you just didn't follow her around on the equipment?  Try waiting on the bench and see if she gains the courage to venture a little bit away from you.


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 02-17-2012, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the response.  I should have mentioned, I work, part time.  Grandma is her caregiver.  I also have 3 quite a bit younger than me siblings that are her playmates in many ways even though they are adults.  She has no issues being left with them and is actually quite anxious for me to go to work when they get here so she can start playing.  In our inner circle, she is a completely different kid.  So, even though its family, it isn't like she has never been away from me.  I think (hope anyway!) that she knows I would come back. 

 

She does act the same way around dh, while that haven't done a preschool class together, they have done activities together.  It might be slightly worse around me, but not by much.

 

*sigh* I know my post sounds self pitying in a way, but I have just been soooo worried about this lately. 


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Old 02-17-2012, 06:25 PM
 
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Well, I do think it's a really good sign that she is comfortable to be left with trusted caregivers. 

 

How is she if there is a group of kids over to your house to play?  What about at a friend's house?


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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Old 02-18-2012, 02:11 PM
 
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I would post on the special needs board--she may be dealing with extreme anxiety and possibly sensory concerns as well and you may get more help there.


"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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Old 02-18-2012, 09:09 PM
 
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What happens if you just don't play on the playground? Will she really skip the stamp for weeks on end if you don't go with her to get it? I think that since she can separate from you it would be worth deciding on a few boundaries that you are willing to stick to even if there is whining so you can determine whereto this is extreme needy behavior that needs boundaries for your sanity or a problem that needs intervention from a professional. My DD was extremely needy, though happy to go to daycare, and she did rise to the occasion when I slowly weaned her from my constant presence at all other times. I talked about each change and told her what her choices were before following through. Typically it was a choice to do it alone or not at all and sometimes, like when I decided I wanted her not to follow me into the bathroom while I used it, the choice was to be happy or sad about it but I wasn't changing my mind. If your DD truly just does not interact without you even after a couple weeks of you being present as support but not pushy about forcing the issue (I.e. you let her choose to get a stamp or go play but you don't push her to) then I think you should talk to your pediatrician about your concerns and ask for a referral to someone who can help identify what is going on.
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:46 PM
 
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Our son is a slow-to-warm-up child as well. It can be frustrating, as a parent, to see all the other children diving in and having fun, while your child sits on your lap and refuses to engage in anything. Or , to have the sit on your lap for the first 50 minutes, and then only tentatively start trying something 5 minutes before the event is over!

 

For me, I prefer to describe our son as "slow-to-warm-up" rather than "shy" or even "attached" (since most children I meet are securely attached, this brings up connotations of "overly attached" or "insecurely attached". Maybe it's just me.) For one thing, I've seen as our son ages, it's helpful for him to have a label to attach to his feelings. If you're "shy" something is wrong with you, and it's a permanent state. So, when people called him shy, I would always say "He just takes a little time to warm up." He doesn't see himself as shy at age 10, which I see as a real victory. When we talk about how he feels, he really latches on to the idea that it takes him awhile to get comfortable, but once he does, he's fine. And it's true. He's never the first to volunteer to talk, but he's quite chatty with his friends.

 

They key with our son was to find the right balance between helping him feel safe and helping him try new experiences. One of the things about gently pushing him to do things that are a bit beyond his comfort zone is that when another situation came up where he was interested, but too cautious to try, was that we could help him remember when he tried something else and liked it after he got in. The problem is, of course, knowing when to push a little harder and when to back off. That, unfortunately, is a bit of trial and error. We ds was 3, dh signed  him up for a soccer class. Ds had done a "parent & me" soccer with dh and loved it. But when he turned three, he aged into the "play by yourself" soccer. Ds would not do it without dh on the floor. Worse yet, he'd get started and freeze in the middle of the floor, and be in real danger from the other 3-4 year olds who were busy chasing balls and not looking where they were going. After 2-3 tries (and a long talk with his mom, who pointed out that maybe ds just wasn't ready), dh gave up. Ds tried again when he was 6, and loved it. He played on a soccer team the next year and hasn't looked back.

 

For other things, however, it took a bit more pushing, but once he learned, he was fine. We started gently pushing for him to try things out at Sunday School by himself when he was 4. We'd be in the background and helping, but he'd have to do it himself if he wanted. Eventually, he did. Sometimes, he sat next to us and refused to do anything. There's nothing wrong with giving a clear choice. "Mommy doesn't want to stand up. If you want to get a stamp, you can walk up. I know you can do it. Or you can stay here with me." Yes, there might be a few tears the first couple of times. You and she will live through them. The  one thing you don't want to do is to give her the idea that Mommy's so afraid of her tears that you'll do anything to stop them. That will give her the idea that her fears are too big even for Mommy! One of the things children like this need to learn is that they can live with a little bit of anxiety. Most children like this are highly sensitive to environmental stimuli and it tends to set them a bit more on edge. Learning that this feeling will go away is good. It's not always easy. Ds dithered at the top of a water slide for 20 minutes before eventually trying it. Thankfully, no one else was there! Once he took the plunge (literally), he liked it.

 

A really good book that helped me was:

The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. I've actually got two highly sensitive kids. One is ds, who is slow to warm up, easily over stimulated, and quite cautious in nature. The other is dd who has a strong "go for it' urge in trying new things, but then gets easily overwhelmed. As my kids age, it's actually dd who needs more support and monitoring. She can easily get completely overworked. Ds has a better sense of when he needs to take a step back and not do something.

 

A good website:

http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/challenging-behavior/cautious-slow-to-warm-up.html

 

The final thing I'd remind you is that this is a trait that will stand your child in good stead when she's older. She won't be the one you have to worry about taking her parents' car for an early morning ride with her friends when she's 12 (like one of my brother's friends did!). By the time she's fully considered whether this is a good idea or not, her friends will be long gone or will have given up the scheme.


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Old 02-19-2012, 07:25 PM
 
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My 4.5 years old dd has started attending ballet class once a week and she's having similar attachement issue. I would say she's not an attached kid usually and she's happy at preschool everyday. When we are out at the park she will just venture everywhere by her own and would not hold my hands, just occassionally turn back and make sure we're there. I stayed inside the studio with her at ballet class for 2 weeks and last week I told her that i'll just wait for her outside coz the ballet school actually does not allow parents inside the studio during class. She got really upset and started crying in class. She would not join the class and just sat there the whole time. When we got home she told us that she doesn't like ballet class and wanted to stop going coz it's not fun. We know that it's not true coz she loves dancing and she just didn't want to be in class without me. How can I help her to overcome this fear? And I know it's not a one-off incidence coz this had happened before when she was younger so we thought she's not ready and we let her stopped. But now that she's older most kids of the same age can do it without parents aronud. Please help with some advice as we really want her to continue and not give up something she likes coz of her fear. Thanks a lot.

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Old 02-21-2012, 12:25 AM
 
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I personally would push it slightly. I think sometimes kids need to be encouraged to spread their wings. It doesn't have to be traumatic. I would start being firm but gentle and say "No. I am going to sit here. You are fine. I am right here.". I have done this with my boys when needed and maybe it takes a couple of times but slowly they start moving further afield. If she doesn't want to go up by herself to get a stamp then she just doesn't get one that time. And of course lots of praise when she does do something courageous.


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Old 02-21-2012, 12:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by gigima View Post

My 4.5 years old dd has started attending ballet class once a week and she's having similar attachement issue. I would say she's not an attached kid usually and she's happy at preschool everyday. When we are out at the park she will just venture everywhere by her own and would not hold my hands, just occassionally turn back and make sure we're there. I stayed inside the studio with her at ballet class for 2 weeks and last week I told her that i'll just wait for her outside coz the ballet school actually does not allow parents inside the studio during class. She got really upset and started crying in class. She would not join the class and just sat there the whole time. When we got home she told us that she doesn't like ballet class and wanted to stop going coz it's not fun. We know that it's not true coz she loves dancing and she just didn't want to be in class without me. How can I help her to overcome this fear? And I know it's not a one-off incidence coz this had happened before when she was younger so we thought she's not ready and we let her stopped. But now that she's older most kids of the same age can do it without parents aronud. Please help with some advice as we really want her to continue and not give up something she likes coz of her fear. Thanks a lot.



It sounds to me like it isn't fun for her at the moment. I would either stop the ballet classes for now or find one where you can stay. My thoughts are that there is no point in "making" my kids do something that is meant to be for fun, because it's just going to suck the fun right out of it.

 


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Old 02-21-2012, 12:40 AM
 
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One thing I've done with classes (swimming lessons) when DS doesn't want to participate is to have him sit with me and watch the class. Is that possible with the ballet class?

 

I had him sit almost every day for a week, until he was ready to get in the pool and participate with the class. (However, the reason for lack of participation was because he wanted to play, not do the "lesson" part. If I had left the pool, he would have gotten to play elsewhere, so that wouldn't have worked.)

 

Maybe your daughter will warm up once she gets a chance to see how things work in the class, without actually having to BE IN the class.

 

 


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Old 02-21-2012, 08:15 PM
 
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It sounds to me like it isn't fun for her at the moment. I would either stop the ballet classes for now or find one where you can stay. My thoughts are that there is no point in "making" my kids do something that is meant to be for fun, because it's just going to suck the fun right out of it.

 


Hi Leaning_Mum I'm quite sure that she loves dancing and the reason why she said it's not fun is that she doesn't want to be in class without me. I guess she needs to get to know the teacher and other gals in class so that she'll feel more comfortable. And btw she's the one requested to continue after her trial class so I really don't want her to cultivate a habit that she can change her mind & give up about something so easily.

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Old 02-21-2012, 08:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post

One thing I've done with classes (swimming lessons) when DS doesn't want to participate is to have him sit with me and watch the class. Is that possible with the ballet class?

 

I had him sit almost every day for a week, until he was ready to get in the pool and participate with the class. (However, the reason for lack of participation was because he wanted to play, not do the "lesson" part. If I had left the pool, he would have gotten to play elsewhere, so that wouldn't have worked.)

 

Maybe your daughter will warm up once she gets a chance to see how things work in the class, without actually having to BE IN the class.

 

 


 

Hi ASusan I'm not sure if watching will help since the main issue now is that she's not comfortable about being in class without me. She was doing well and enjoying herself when I was in class with her 2 weeks ago. 

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Old 02-23-2012, 09:55 AM
 
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My 5 (almost 6 yr old) son had issues like your dd. He also was a late potty-trainer. Didn't stop wearing diapers till he was four and 3 months. I also had to be right beside him at gymnastics class (his only activity outside the house) . He gradually warmed up (after two months of being glued to his side) and let me sit farther away but I was definitely the only mom down on the mat with him. I felt like the other moms were always judging me for being to soft with him but I knew it was the right way to handle him. His anxiety about leaving me has slowly decreased as he has matured with age. We kept him home for preschool and kindergarten but will try him in grade 1. He asked for his first playdate away from home a few months ago (his aunts house). He was so proud to make that decision himself and leave me. Told me I couldn't get out of the van but that he would walk to the door himself. The pride on his face was tear-jerking :)

 

You know your dd best if you can push her a little and she responds positively great! If she pushes back just leave it for awhile and try to make it a non-issue so that she doesn't sense you are trying to create distance.  She is still young and might outgrow some of it.  

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Old 02-24-2012, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your answers and thoughts.  I don't think I am going to set limits with the stamp or anything yet, but in this class the moms have to attend a meeting once a week during the kids outside play.  The moms switch off days so half the moms are in meeting, half are watching the kids.  My daughter has never gone and played.  She hangs around me at the meeting.  She essentially gives up her outside playtime rather than go off by herself.  Until the last meeting, this wasn't really a big deal, but the last meeting, I just truly felt she was too disruptive.  she was hanging on me a lot, climbing off and on my lap, etc.  The really frustrating part was that I had brought over some sidewalk chalk, thinking she could do that, but she did like 2 pictures and abandoned that activity.  After the meeting, I took her aside and said that she and I were going to make a list of things she could do while mom was in meeting.  That she couldn't climb on my lap, or hang on me anymore,  She got upset and said she didn't want to be far away from me.  I told her she didn't need to be, but she needed to find things to do and that on our list we will make sure to include lots of things that can be done near mom.  I am going to revisit this this weekend.  (hopefully with a better tone, I have to admit I was a wee bit irritated by the end of the meeting that day).  I think that is a fair limit to set.

 

I just feel like when I try to "encourage" her, she takes it like rejection.  That leads me to question pushing her at all.  I mean, she isn't going to want to be around me so much at 16, right?  In september, she can make the jump to the "readiness for school" class.  I will revisit the issue when it is actually time to sign up, but I don't think we are going to do it.  That class is 3 days a week, with only one day with mom in the classroom.  Not sure 3 hours in a group of 25+ kids is the greatest way to introduce doing something by yourself.  Besides the social issues with my daughter, I also don't totally agree with how academic they are making even preschool now, and am 90% sure we will be homeschooling for K anyway with other, shorter outside activities.

 

dandelionkid, thank you so much for your post!  You really touched on an issue for me when you mentioned feeling judged by the other moms.  that is something I really need to work on.  For me , that is totally part of the reason I end up feeling so worried everyday after class.  ALL the other kids in this class are way more independent than my daughter and I always leave feeling like I am raising her wrong.  A few comments have been made by the moms that totally leave me to believe they think I am too soft.  It is good to hear of progress your son is making.  My husband commented the other day that he can see a difference in our dd, just a little tiny bit, that other people probably don't realize, but we do.

 

Lynns6, I love how you say slow to warm up.  When ears are listening that is exactly my term!  I think that term has no negativity attached to it.  I use it, even though, often, people don't actually get to see her warm up cause it takes so long!!  Or, the warm up is so slight, no one notices!  My mom suggested using the term "cautious", but even that, I feel, isn't as positive.  You are right, I do need to try and teach her to live with the anxiety, (something I have learned for myself) because I can't necessarily make it go away.  I have tried to teach her deep breathing and such, but like many things with my dd, if I WANT her to do it, or make it seem wonderful, she digs her heels in and won't.  I need to figure out a way to incorporate those things without the message, "well, there is this problem and we should do this"

 

Pianojazzgirl, thank you for seeing it as positive that she will be left with caregivers!  I think I hardly get to here about positive things she does do, so I really appreciated that.  As for when people are over, she does pretty good, but a lot of that is because in her own house, she goes off to play.  At other peoples houses, she starts with the extreme, staying on my lap, turning her head if someone talks to her, etc.  Then, at some point, she sits in her own chair, and while still not talking, she starts to watch with interest at the conversations around her.  We recently were at my brother in laws house and he had a friend over with a 6 yr old girl.  My dd surprised me by playing hide and seek with her.  Yes, I was playing too, of course, and she never really said a word to her, but there was a moment where her and the other little girl were chasing each other and she "forgot" to stop and say, "come on mom" and for just a second, she was several feet ahead of me running with another little kid!  Shock of my life!  The other little girl kept suggesting that my dd and i hide separate and I could the stress on dd's face, so I would just say, "no, I think we are going to stay together and hide".   

 

I think I will try to find a different class that is at a time dad could take her just so she can try things "without mom".  I think another issue for me, is that I need to try and build in a little more break time for me.  Having a kid like this means you don't really get a break.  I think making sure I do, will help me have more patience with being slow to warm up.

 

Thank you again for the thoughts and if anyone has any suggestions on setting limits with the meeting, how to approach it, etc, I'd love to hear!

 

 


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Old 02-24-2012, 11:31 AM
 
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A good book if she's on the anxious side is: Freeing Your Child from Anxiety -- if anxiety runs in your family, you'll need to keep a close on her now and as she gets older, so it's a good book, even if you don't need all of it now.  The idea of "getting used to it" comes from that book. It's possible that what's 'slow to warm up now' might develop into social anxiety, or she might be socially anxious now.  I saw a huge improvement in ds around the time he turned 5. (It also corresponded to his getting occupational therapy for his sensory issues, so I don't know how much the 2 are related.)

 

I really like the idea of sending dad some of the time. She'll feel comfortable, but you'll get a break. You need the break. It's not a want, it's a need.

 

Finally, I'd say: It's OK if she cries sometimes. I'm not talking hysterical tears, but it's OK for her to be sad and not always get what she wants. Only you can determine whether being near you is a need or a want right now. The one thing you need to be careful of is unintentionally giving the impression that mom can't stand to see her cry. That makes the world a scary place because if crying is too scary for mom, then it's got to be too scary for her! Letting her be sad without trying to fix anything is a good thing for all parents to learn. Our first instinct is to make it go away, but sometimes, we can't.


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Old 02-24-2012, 09:18 PM
 
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My dd, was very similar to yours at 3. Like LynnS, we tried to avoid the label "shy", talking about feelings instead & about how sometimes all people feel shy.
I took somewhat of a "full-immersion" approach & brought her to every playdate, party, event I could. I made sure to get there a little bit early - it's easier to walk into an empty party - and never pressured her to join in. After awhile it took her less & less time to join in. She also went places with Dad & started preschool (a low teacher to child ratio - your stated option does sound like a big group, IMO) at 3.
I also told her it was polite to respond to people & that if she didn't want to use her words, that was okay, she could simply wave or smile hello.
We took a low pressure approach. Now, at 8, she still struggles with it in some situations, but, has successfully made friends at school & successfully interacts with teachers & other school staff. At events, she joins in immediately. She's matured, developed coping skills and is doing great.
I plan on purchasing the book recommendation above & you've gotten some great advice. Sometimes it is so hard to know how to best help our los!
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