I am motivated to write a new series of blog posts; Parenting from the Edge.
My goal is to give you an honest perspective on parenting from my position, and hopefully address some of your concerns by sharing our experiences. As first-time parents, we are writing the rules as we go, and can often feel like we are not doing everything we can for our kids.
I want to share our experience with Crayon Kid as it came time to grow his peer group. When I broke it down for him, I just said let’s meet some new people.
If you are a parent, you may have had the same questions that I did at this stage.
Is my child shy? Are all kids shy? Is being shy a bad thing?
You may have the same questions, if you are a first-time parent or maybe your second or third is not as “outgoing” as your other children.
First off, I am not a child expert, I am a parent just like many of you, who wants the best for their child. From what I have seen all children are shy to some point. What we focused on most was how Crayon Kid handled himself in small groups and around relatives. Being that Crayon Kid is an only child we wanted to make sure that his social skills were developing with his peer group. I am not sure how helpful adult conversation is for developing the skills you need for playing with kids his own age! Although he is very popular with the 30 something crowd.
To make sure that Crayon Kid was developing his social skills and getting used to meeting new people we exposed him to a variety of situations. This all started with going to home-based child care. It was the perfect first social situation. There were four other children, one of which was 2 weeks older than him. This group became like brothers and sisters. His second main social interaction was a library story hour. For the younger children there was playtime before the story began. What we found was that it took him almost the whole play time to feel comfortable around children that he did not know. Then there were special event s, such as Kids “Noon Year’s Eve” at our local Children’s Museum, where he made sure to stay close to us as he looked around at a museum full of children. The latter two situations brought a great deal of changes into little Crayon Kid’s small world. Before these experiences Crayon Kid’s world was 5 children, plus his cousins. He never had to adapt to participating in groups of children he did not know.
From there as a parent I became very aware of how he interacted socially. I became concerned, did we wait too long to put him in social situations with his peer group, was he lagging his peers in development, or is he naturally an introvert? I then took a deep breath. We started making a conscious effort to do activities that made sense for a toddler, and we watched what he liked to do. For us Crayon Kid has a lot of energy and naturally likes to run and kick a ball, though he had never seen soccer at that point. When the opportunity came up for an entry level soccer class we took the opportunity. Crayon Kid was excited to work his “skills” on the field and as parents this was a good opportunity for him to meet more children and get used to them in a relatively short time. Sessions were 1 hour long and ran for 8 weeks. The first class he was quiet as a mouse, but the second class he was comfortable because he was having so much fun running around with the other children.
Some take away’s from our experience, have your children get used to meeting new people, especially children their own age. This can take many forms, including neighborhood playgroups, Sunday School, the play area at you child’s favorite restaurant, the beach, the park just to name a few. Get out there and have fun. A bonus is that you have a minute to enjoy that coffee that you never seem to get to finish and watch your child grow.
Check out the article below from CenterForParentingEducation.org that has some good information on shyness. I found it educational, and I hope it helps answer any additional questions you may have.
Our next adventure, Crayon Kid playing with the “Big Kids”.