Teacher: “It’s been a couple of weeks now since school has started, and Miss 4 is still really shy. She doesn’t really talk to anyone and she ALWAYS wants to be last in line to wash her hands before morning tea and lunch. And she doesn’t really want to play with others. Is there something we should be worried about?”
Me: “No, I don’t think we should be worried… This is who Miss 4 is. She’s shy, a lot like her dad.”
Teacher: “Well I just thought she would be a bit more sociable by now.”
Me: “Why would you think that? She’s a shy kid and she’s actually really OK with her own company.”
Teacher: “Regardless, would you like me to write you a referral for Miss 4 to see a psychologist anyway?”
Regardless. So everything I’ve just told you, you’ve disregarded.
Me (trying to be as polite as I can): “No, thank you. If she cries every morning because she’s afraid to go to school, if she sits in a corner rocking back and forth with her thumb in her mouth… Then, maybe yeah. But Miss 4 looks forward to school everyday. And she’s not crying in class. So no, this is who she is, and I trust she will open up in her own time.”
And just as I kissed Miss 4 goodbye, her teacher poked her head out of the door and said, “Remember, you can always ask me to write you a referral!”
Ok, NOW she’s really annoyed me. But I graciously thanked her and walked away instead.
Miss 4 is shy. You could describe her as painfully shy. ALL my friends will tell you that Miss 4 still won’t speak to them. There’s only a tiny handful of friends where Miss 4 have only started answering their questions, and they’re friends of mine that I catch up with, very regularly.
When she has one or two girl friends that come over for a play, they have an absolute ball. They squeal with laughter, chase each other around the backyard, play dress ups and everything else that little girls do.
But when she’s in a large group, like at a friend’s birthday party, nope, just nope. She’ll hang on to my shirt BUT she’s not crying. She’s happy to hang on to my shirt, and watch the other kids play. Kids would come up to her and say hi, and she would smile at them and then hide behind me again. But she would insist we stay at the party from start to finish. Because she wants to watch her friends play games, dance and sing happy birthday. All while holding on to my shirt.
And when we get home, I’ll ask if she enjoyed the party, she would always say “Yes!”
That’s Miss 4. She’s shy and can be painfully shy. But not all the time. She’s funny, loud and boisterous but only to a very select few. Her dad is exactly the same. If we have to be in a group full of people, he can get very quiet. It takes time for him to open up to others but when he does, he’s also funny, loud and boisterous.
After the ‘talk’ I had with her teacher, I wondered…. What if I was a first time mum? What if I was still going through postnatal depression? What if I had a really really bad night? What if I was on the verge of splitting up with my husband? How would I then react to a teacher who told me she thought my 4 year old needed to see a psychologist?
Children are allowed to be shy. That’s a personality trait, right? Just like being funny, helpful, naughty, hardworking… Why can’t she be who she is? Would you suggest a hardworking kid to see a psychologist? My child isn’t lashing out in anger, she’s not hurting other kids. She’s happy to sit at the table and do her work quietly and build castles with wooden blocks. No she wouldn’t go up to another kid to ask if she would play with her, but if a kid goes up to her and holds her hand, there’s an 80% chance, my Miss 4 would go off and play with her. But, there’s a 20% chance, she’s not feeling too confident, or if there’s a big group of kids around her going nuts, or she just doesn’t want to, shouldn’t that be OK anyway?
Not many have seen my Miss 4 the way my family sees her. But that’s okay, it used to frustrate me when she was a little younger, but I’ve learnt to embrace her personality. I’ve learnt that it’s not cool to force her talk to people she doesn’t want to. It goes against the grain of who she is.
Now Miss 4 has been in school for 3 months. She still walks in quietly, writes her name quietly, then goes and builds a castle with wooden blocks on her own. I then give her a kiss and say goodbye and tell her I love her. Some days she’ll play with her friends, some days she just wants to do her own thing. Aren’t we all like that as adults?
I’m no longer worried about her. I care for her, I’m sad for her, especially when she’s at birthday parties and sometimes I feel like she’s missing out on all the fun but those are MY feelings. She’s not upset, and she’s enjoying herself, within herself. And she’s happy. What more could I ask for from a shy girl?
I refuse to see shyness in my daughter as a negative trait.
Read here The Blessings Of Shyness.