Monday, November 28, 2016

What's the deal with shy kids?

Mom2MomEd Blog: What's the deal with shy kids?
Does anyone else have a really shy kiddo?

You may be surprised to hear that my spirited child is also my painfully shy child.

She's like night and day around people and then at home. Seriously, I've had people look at me like I'm crazy when I say that my little Delilah is my wild child. They just don't believe me, but trust me, my daughter sits there quiet and cute, hiding behind me as if she couldn't possibly disturb a fly.

What people don't see is that my daughter trashes my house, writes on my walls, climbs on the top of the fridge, squeezes toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror, and "helps" by spreading flour all over the floor.


In public, my daughter won't talk--at home she won't even talk if someone new to her visits. Like, she won't talk AT ALL most of the time when we are out. Even around people that she knows and loves, she takes a long time to warm up to them.

I was talking to Malea last night about my concerns for my daughter and how some adults have been really cruel in the way that they've interacted with Delilah.

You read that right....adults being cruel as they interact with a THREE YEAR OLD.

Give me a freaking break!

I've had people get offended that my daughter won't talk to them or they say I"m going to have to make her talk when she gets to school, and my favorite is when they just get louder and more obnoxious which ensures that she will definitely never speak again to anyone in public.

Thanks people.
Thanks adults who should know better.
Thanks people whose opinions don't count when it comes to my child.

First of all there is nothing wrong with my daughter.

She's cautious by nature, and I am glad. A long time ago, we were all cautious too. It's totally normal, but it seems like a lot of adults have forgotten that fact. Some kids grow out of it, some don't, and some just need to do grow and develop at their own pace.

You know what? That's totally ok.

The hard part for me, as her mom, is that she takes forever for Delilah to warm up to a new situation, so it takes a lot of time on my part to help her acclimate. I've had to get creative and I try to do what works for her (regardless of what other adults think about it)--some things have worked and some haven't.

As with most things in parenting, it's a lot of trial and error!

One of the things that has worked for us is for my daughter to "tell me a secret". She really does want to talk and interact, but she doesn't always feel comfortable speaking out loud, especially to adults. She will now whisper in my ear what she wants me to say or she will end it with, "Please don't tell them right now."

My daughter is so painfully shy that she often won't even speak to me in public other than in a whisper. However, I've found that once she whispers a couple of times, she tends to open up and speak out loud to everyone--except when someone says, "Whispering is rude" or "You can tell me too." Like most kids, she hears those statements, internalizes them, and then she aborts mission and shuts down.

Again, adults of the world, thanks a whole lot!

There are a few things that have helped my daughter get over her shyness--mostly they are situational.

We try to keep to a routine and to make it predictable. She loves her pre-school teacher (who doesn't?), but doesn't like for me to leave after drop off. She loves being held and is tiny enough to still pick her up and carry her around. So, at preschool, when we say goodbye, I pick her up, give her a squeeze, and hand her to her teacher. She then gets cuddles, gets to be held, and feels secure. This is especially helpful for when there is a new parent working in class or the routine has been altered for the day. My daughter is adaptable though--I have learned that, even if it isn't always apparent--she had a substitute teacher a couple of days this past month and was totally fine! She didn't ask me to hold her at goodbyes...maybe it was because she didn't know the sub, but regardless, it was a really big step for her!

I also try to keep my daughter informed of upcoming things and changes, but I don't give her too much notice. I've found that if I tell her too far in advance, she will just talk and worry about the upcoming changes or events, so I don't do that any more. It was miserable for her, and I just felt horrible leading up to the event. So now, the morning of or the night before (even the night before is too much notice most of the time), I tell her what to expect and lay out the plan of whatever it is we are doing. Then, when we are in the situation and I can see her start to withdraw, I can remind her of the plan and reiterate what she can expect. That seems to help a lot.

Finally, if I just could cart her brother with us everywhere we go, she would be absolutely fine! When he's around, she's completely comfortable and engaging and social. She follows her big brother's lead and has almost no need for a warm up period at all. He's her safe place, her buffer, and, thank goodness, he includes her without fail. They have the sweetest relationship and I've really never met siblings that are closer. However, that is a lot of responsibility to put on a 5 year old brother, and it's not realistic for us to be together all of the time anyway!

Malea, who has been-there-done-that with her son and even herself when it comes to shyness, gave me some good ideas on working on coping skills and some books to read with Delilah. I'm going to start experimenting and trying new things, but I often think my daughter's shyness is already getting much better only for us to have a huge regression (which we are in right now) and it then feel like we are starting all over again.

Hopefully, if you have a shy child yourself, some of the tips I use with Delilah may help you, and if not, maybe this post will remind you of some things that you shouldn't say to the parent of a shy child or the child themselves. Remember, kids can hear you, even if you aren't speaking directly to them or even if they aren't responding to you....just because they aren't actively engaging with you doesn't mean they aren't listening and paying attention to your cues.

In fact, some children who seem totally disengaged or aloof are actually paying even more attention to you, your words, and your behaviors than the child who is engaging with you. Some kids, like my Delilah, are gathering information and forming conclusions before responding.

What are some tips you have to help shy children develop coping skills? Do you have any experiences that you could share about how adults have reacted to your shy child? Please share, I'm desperate for ideas!
Please take a moment to check out these additional posts, and be sure to also hop over to our Etsy shop!

    1 comment:

    1. Have you heard of selective mutism. Your daughter fits that description to a tee. Please take a look to learn more -