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Parenting a Shy Child is Emotionally Draining

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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