How To Help My Shy Child
My two boys are similar in many, many ways. They like the same music, their hair sticks up in the same place and they both go to sleep early at night.
But this one, this one right here. He is shy.
My eldest child is not shy…at all. In fact, once, while at a store, he randomly walked up to someone and gave him a hug. We often joke that he’ll go with anyone, anytime, even if he’s never seen them before. But Ben is not that way…and I have no idea how to handle it.
He’s shy for the first half hour of larger family gatherings (where he knows everyone, but it’s more than just my parents for example). He wants to be held (which is not fun, he’s almost 4 for crying out loud) or hides behind us, refusing to talk to or answer anyone until someone does something exciting or interesting enough to entice him from behind my legs. Then he’s fine for the rest of the party, usually not wanting to leave.
Same thing happened at a recent birthday party for his BFF. He was nervous going in. This was his first friend party. He asked alot of questions about what to do if there were kids there he didn’t know. I told him to simply say, “Hi, I’m Ben” if he encountered anyone, which he agreed with. When we got there though, he would not leave my side, hanging onto my leg the whole time. He wouldn’t say hello to the birthday girl or her mother, even though he sees them both every day and there was only one child there he didn’t know. Everyone else was from his class. I had no idea how to handle the situation and fear I handled it poorly. I put on my fake mom smile and tried to cajole him into participating. I threatened that we should leave since he wasn’t doing anything anyway. Inside I was annoyed and a little embarrassed that he was the only one hiding in the corner.
It’s times like this that I have to remember that my two children are not the same — that Ben has his own personality and temperament and may be a bit fearful in these situations. I have to remember that it’s my job to help him navigate these social scenes so when he’s older he knows how to approach a cocktail party or work meeting. It’s my job to love him and support him just the way he is.
So help me out. Do you have a child who is timid? If so, how do you help him or her feel comfortable in situations like birthday parties?