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Parenting a Shy Child is Emotionally Draining

By Meghan Gesswein |

Dylan has always been our shy guy.

He’s never been the type of kid to blindly insert himself into a group of children. Unless he knows, and is comfortable with, the group as a whole he stands back and watches them play. You can tell that he wants to get involved, he just can’t bring himself to join in the fun.

He’s never been a performer. Unless he’s in our living room in his underwear, in which case he turns into Liberace.

The first few days of Kindergarten and First Grade were heartbreaking. I knew he was shy and uncomfortable and nervous and I was pained for him.

He worries about what friends will be at school every day and what he will do if someone is absent. The thought of the few kids that he is comfortable with being out of school at the same time makes him physically ill.

There are often tears at the mere mention of a playdate.

I hate seeing him like this, but I have no idea how to break him out of his shell.

Yesterday before school he was, once again, a weepy, clingy mess. I think part of it was that he’d been out of his normal routine for so long, on account of Thanksgiving break and being sick. He didn’t want to join the kids on the playground, and instead stood with his head buried in my side until the bell rang. I left him standing in line for class, with tears streaming down his face.

And I spent the entire day worrying about him. Had he acclimated? Was he sitting by himself at lunch? Did he spend recess on the outskirts, watching the other kids play?

Of course, at school pick-up he was perfectly happy and told me about who he’d eaten lunch with and what they had played at recess. This morning at drop-off I stopped to talk to another parent and he ran off with a buddy, without even giving me a second glance.

I suppose this is going to be the story of our lives for the foreseeable future. Adolescence is hard on kids, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s just as hard on the parents.

Do you have a shy child? Have you figured out any strategies to help them be more comfortable in social situations?


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About Meghan Gesswein


Meghan Gesswein

Meghan Gesswein is a stay at home mom to three boys. Most of the time. Meghan is extremely active online, and writes for the ever growing mom blog, Meghan GWine. She was a regular contributor to the Parenting channels on Babble.

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2 thoughts on “Parenting a Shy Child is Emotionally Draining

  1. A says:

    Go read The Introvert Advantage. I’m talking to you, Ms. Gesswein, and others who clicked on this post because they are also challenged by a shy child. I was so shy that I was tested for deafness. But I just take a little longer to warm up, that’s all.

  2. FELICIA says:

    My son was the same way but has seemed to get better at it now that he has gotten older. He has just known all the kids since kindergarten so now he is comfortable being himself. I just worry at what it might be like if we ever have to change schools. Also if I take him around new kids he always says what they are doing is something he doesn’t want to do so that he doesn’t have to join in. If they show interest in him he usually gives in. My son is also super sensitive. I have to really watch what I say because his feelings get hurt so easily. Is yours like that? I often wonder if its how easily his feelings get hurt that keeps him from jumping in and being social.

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