Initially Shy

Jennifer - posted on 06/24/2009 ( 2 moms have responded )

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My 3 year old son's shyness is a strange parody!!! He is shy to the EXTREME upon first meeting people, or being in a crowd. Once he has warmed up to a crowd or situation he is bouncy, happy, talkative, the EXTREME oppisite of shy. The moms in our playgroup comment on this all the time. They know him as his talkative hyper self (he has had three years to warm up to them), but we go somewhere new and he is a totally different child! It hasn't been a problem until this week with swim lessons. The first day he was so extremely shy with the teacher she was convinced he couldn't swim in the least and moved him back a class. The kid swims like a fish! So the second day of class, in a new class with another new teacher he once again acted as if he'd never seen water! My husband and I took him to the pool last night and he was paddling all over the place and using the terms like scoop hands and circle arms he had heard in class. We will go back and I am sure he will become comfortable in the next couple of days and then they will see what I keep saying about his swimming ability isn't me being an irrational mother, but it has raised flags to me for future activities. I mean we're talking about toddler classes here, not swim team! I just want him in the class where they are already swimming like him so he can learn to swim safely and not the class where they sit on the stairs blowing bubbles and kicking thier feet! Anyone else have this problem? My husband commented that if he were a little girl no one would fault her and people would be more patient, I sort of agree with this. How can I get him in classes that reflect his actual ability level when his shyness for newness paralizes him???

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Have you tried introducing him to the situation before he actually has to go participate? Not swimming in general, but introducing him to the instructor so that when he gets to class he sees a familiar face. I've read that kids take their cues from parents, so along the lines of Lynlee has already said, I'd try to arrive early so he can get used to the situation until he's more comfortable and let him know that he has to swim during class just like he does with you. Or maybe talk about a new activity before you introduce him to it? Kind of like trying to get psyched up for a trip to the dentist, you know? Talk about how he should introduce himself to people and practice at home. I hope something helps!

Lynlee - posted on 06/24/2009

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I dont know the answer to your last question but my son is exactly the same. He is really shy and scared, withdrawn in a new situation and will just watch other kids from a distance and if approached will retreat. Once he is comfortable though he is so talkative and runs around and plays with other kids and other parents all say what great language skills he's got etc. He used to be quite shy all the time but the more we went to playgroup, music etc the more outgoing he became. Maybe your son just needs time and as he gets older he will be more confident in new situations etc. Make sure also that if you or your husband are a bit shy, that you push yourself to model confident behaviour to him and suggest things he could say to other kids to break the ice. I am not the most outgoing person, but try to start up conversations with strangers at playgroup or wherever so he can see how to do it and how to be friendly.

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