Anyone with a shy child? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 12:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was super shy as a kid. Dh is a hermit! I've heard there is a genetic component to shyness. I don't at all feel shy now, but I had to work on it. It really bugged me up until I was around 24. I had a hard time meeting new people and would actually be angry with my self about holding myself back. . . anyway, ds is 3. He was obsessing for days for me to call this little girl from school and invite her to play. So I did. He was crazy waiting to play with her. He could barely sleep that night. He woke up at 4am and said, "Is it time for the picnic yet?" My sweet boy. We finally got to the park, and she came running up to ds calling his name, and he just froze. He turned into me and hid behind my legs. I wanted to cry for him, I knew exactly how he felt . He sat on my legs for a good 40 minutes while she played with other kids. I knew he was going to feel so bad if he didn't manage to play with her, so I got down in the sand with them. Eventually, he let her take his hand and they played, but he was still very stiff and quiet. He followed her around and held her hand but was very quiet and reserved.

Of course I don't want to push him, but I don't want him to feel lonely like I did. I don't want him to feel like everyone else is already friends and I'm still in the corner feeling awkward.

She's coming to our house tomorrow. I hope he feels more comfortable here. On the way home that afternoon we stopped and picked up my nephew and they played like wild children all afternoon. He was so free (and even bossy) with my nephew. I know he wants to play with this girl like that, but he just can't yet.

How do you deal with it/help them?
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#2 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 02:24 AM
 
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It sounds like you're doing all the right things. Instead of thinking of him as 'shy', think of him as 'slow to warm up' or 'needing to observe before jumping in'. I suspect too that you're both introverts (dh probably more than you), and remember that it takes a LOT of energy for an introvert to be in a new social situation, especially when they are young. Make sure to give him space and downtime before and after.

I found the book "The Highly Sensitive Child" to be really useful in understanding this. Less helpful, but still interesting, is "The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child".

Remember too that he's NOT you, and at 3, doesn't have the adolescent pain that you remember so well. He's much more in the moment, and you're doing really well helping him be social.

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#3 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 02:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the book tip. Based on the title, I woulnd't have thought to pick it up. It's true that he's not me, but more importantly, he isn't an adolescent (though I did have an extroverted few years between 10 and 13, I guess). It's hard for me to remember what it was like to be slow to warm up at 3. I think he thought the playdate went fine. I wondered if she had fun since he was so quiet. I only wonder about that because I hope she wants to play with him again. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at his school, but it took him so long to warm up there, I think it is still too early for a visit from Mama.

It's hard. It's not something you talk out of someone. There's no reasoning. You just have to grow out of it, I suppose.
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#4 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 03:04 PM
 
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I would not assume that just because it takes him awhile to warm up right now, that he will be that way for years to come. My DD has been slow to warm up too, but now in most social situations where she knows people, she is super chatty and very social.

I made the mistake of calling her "shy" to someone while she (DD) could hear me, and now she's convinced she doesn't "have" to say hello to new people because "I'm shy, Mom." OOPS.

I was shy as a kid too, so I'm trying now to just model social interactions for her and encourage her to talk with other kids if she wants to (but not force at all).

HTH!

A writer/runner/thinker/wife with two daughters (11/02 and 8/05), one dog, three cats, seven fish, and a partridge in a pear tree... in Vermont.
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#5 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 03:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
It's true that he's not me, but more importantly, he isn't an adolescent
Yes, I posted this because I keep having to remind myself of that too. I can see all the social implications of his behavior, but he can't. And it doesn't bother him. I also have to remind myself that he is responsible for his own friendships, it's my job to give him the tools and opportunities.

Quote:
I made the mistake of calling her "shy" to someone while she (DD) could hear me, and now she's convinced she doesn't "have" to say hello to new people because "I'm shy, Mom." OOPS.
That's why I'm sooo adamant about not calling ds 'shy'. I was called shy as a child and it took me YEARS to realize that I'm not. I'm on the introvert side of the spectrum, but just barely.

If it helps, ds is now 5 and the difference in social skills between 3 and 5 has been huge. At 3 he wouldn't look people in the eye, he wouldn't say hello or goodbye to his friends. He wouldn't even WAVE to them sometimes! He wouldn't 'join in' at events or parties. He cried every day when I dropped him off at daycare (3x a week). He wouldn't go to Sunday School unless he could sit on my lap. (Not next to me, but ON me.)

At 5, he SAYS hello and goodbye to his friends AND his friends' parents (sometimes). If he doesn't feel like talking (sometimes) he will at least wave or shake someone's hand. He talks to adults he knows well. He will talk to children, even if he doesn't know them well. He goes to Sunday School all on his own, without me (good thing, because I'm teaching the 2 year olds!) I have to track him down to say goodbye at Kindergarten. If I come earlier than expected, he looks at me and says "why are you here so early?! I'm not ready to go."

Will he ever be the life of the party? Probably not. Will he be a social outcast? Probably not either.

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#6 of 18 Old 11-20-2006, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want to assume he'll always be like this, but I don't want to assume he'll grow out of it, too. I pretty much didn't grow out of it till I was 24. I want to give him the "tools" to make friendships, but that's the part that's hard. My mom was very introverted, too, so she wasn't much help. I never say he is shy around him, but I do say he "feels shy" and I think that's ok, so that is just a feeling you have sometimes, but not who he is.

BTW, the little girl came over to our house today and he was much warmer and sillier at home than at the park.
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#7 of 18 Old 11-21-2006, 05:42 PM
 
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I'm so glad it went well!

My DD is a complete extrovert. She wants to make friends with any girl, anywhere, any time. However, this does not guarantee that they will respond and when they don't, it is hard to watch.

So, there are issues with both sides!

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#8 of 18 Old 11-21-2006, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
I'm so glad it went well!

My DD is a complete extrovert. She wants to make friends with any girl, anywhere, any time. However, this does not guarantee that they will respond and when they don't, it is hard to watch.

So, there are issues with both sides!
ITA! As I was cringing at ds's stiff response, the little girl's mom was cringing and saying, "She's so aggressive, let him be, honey!!"
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#9 of 18 Old 11-22-2006, 12:18 AM
 
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how about practicing or at least verbally rehearsing the playdate. The day before you could say "hey tomorrow you get to play with Bryn. Remember, we met her at the park Tuesday, and you played in the sandbox together? How did you like that? What do you think you'll do this time? What do you want to say to her?


Kind of just gently reminding him of the last experience and how fun it turned out. Do you think that might help him remember his reticence, and that it was ok because they did end up playing and that this time it might just last a few minutes before they get together.

I used to do this alot with dd when we were going to see my in laws (who live far away), though she's an extrovert and adored them, their anxiousness to hug, kiss and get physically close immediately was overwhelming to her and she'd pull back, which broke their hearts. When I knew a visit was imminent I would keep talking about the last visit and what it was like and it seemed to comfort her and give her confidence (because she knew what to expect). I'd say stuff like "Grampus likes to give you a big hug and kiss and put you on his lap. He likes to tickle you and talk to you, doesn't he? Remember that? "

Just thought I'd mention it.
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#10 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 04:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nancy926 View Post
I would not assume that just because it takes him awhile to warm up right now, that he will be that way for years to come. My DD has been slow to warm up too, but now in most social situations where she knows people, she is super chatty and very social.
So true. I'm 39, and I've gone through more introverted times and more extroverted times in my life. Right now is a more extroverted time as I work on getting to know other Mom and children in my area by setting up play dates and parties, etc.

My Dad was always very introverted, even shy, until his 50s. A good friend of his died and it was sort of a wake-up call for Dad. He really changed and is now 76 and loves to chat with anyone and everyone.
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#11 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 12:09 PM
 
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dd is very shy and takes a long time to warm up in just about any social situation. even her weekly gymnastics class throws her off for the first 15-20 min. we do a lot of role-play and talking about situations before they happen. it helps her a lot!
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#12 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 12:36 PM
 
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There's a great book out there called, "The Shyness Breakthrough". It helped me help my shy DS a great deal. He's really come out of his shell.

One thing I always do with my DS is prepare him as much as I can beforehand. I tell him how many people might be somewhere, how loud it might be, if I think other kids will touch him or want to play with his toys, etc. I also started going over to a particular friend's house quite a bit, until he felt completely comfortable with her son. It took awhile, but that really seemed to help him get over his shyness with other kids. He still sometimes takes awhile to warm up to a new situation, but he's generally friendly and wants to play with kids of all ages.

I think you're doing okay.
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#13 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 12:56 PM
 
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I ahve 3 chy children. It takes time for them to warm up. Dont push but let them obeserve. In a couple hours they will go play ABout them time I am getting ready to leave :
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#14 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by bobica View Post
dd is very shy and takes a long time to warm up in just about any social situation. even her weekly gymnastics class throws her off for the first 15-20 min. we do a lot of role-play and talking about situations before they happen. it helps her a lot!

We've had the exact issue with gymnastics. eventhough he went every Saturday for 2 years, the first 20 minutes was behind my leg. It's a 40 minute class!!


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Originally Posted by momto l&a View Post
I ahve 3 chy children. It takes time for them to warm up. Dont push but let them obeserve. In a couple hours they will go play ABout them time I am getting ready to leave :

That's what I was worried about with the park. I was afraid that by the time he was ready to play, she'd be going home and I think he'd be heartbroken if he didn't get to play. I know he's not me, but it is hard to watch , cuz I GET IT.
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#15 of 18 Old 11-23-2006, 08:10 PM
 
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Both my DH and I were shy.
Donovan is shy, but he also is speech delayed. He is soo like his father though. His father is still quiet too!
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#16 of 18 Old 11-24-2006, 05:26 PM
 
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I have a shy one. I have NEVER called her shy within her earshot, but other people do it all the time. "Hello, What's your name? Oh, are you shy???" Ugh. So now she does that, "I'm shy!" excuse a lot.

I was very shy as a child. The worst part of it was, I felt my mother's constant annoyance and dissapproval of me. She didn't understand me being shy, and instead of being supportive, she made me feel much worse. I could tell by her face that she found it very irritating, but of course I couldn't really help it!

So I am bound and determined to love and support dd exactly as she is and never make her feel rejected. Sounds like you mamas are doing the same for your kids and I know they are thankful!

"If you only knew how many things I want to say and don't, you'd give me some credit."
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#17 of 18 Old 11-24-2006, 06:43 PM
 
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we use the term "feeling shy" a lot. we don't label dd as shy but encourage her to express her feelings. lots of times, even now, she won't want to say hello to someone she doesn't know well. instead of hiding or making her "go away face" , she'll now say, "i'm feeling a little shy today" or something to that effect. it seems to help her to verbalize it and helps to avoid someone labeling her as shy.
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#18 of 18 Old 11-25-2006, 03:24 AM
 
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Some of the PPs have talked about labels that kids get sometimes - labeled as "shy", "quiet", etc., and how this can affect their feelings about themselves.

I just had to say that when I was 12, I went through a few hard time emotionally, and my Mom took me to see our minister for counseling. He labeled me as "an extrovert trapped in an introvert's body." :

That screwed me up royally for YEARS! :

Watch out for those labels!
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