Annie is slowly, slooooowly breaking out of her shyness around strangers. It’s strange for me and Mike because we aren’t shy at all. We’re not sure if we should be forcing her to interact, or let her go at her own pace. So far we’ve mostly gone at her pace, with a few instances of forced interaction with parental guidance. It seems to be working, although yesterday we were at a three-hour birthday party, and Annie wanted to be held for two-thirds of it. Baby steps.
In contrast to this, I’ve noticed that Annie has been getting more confident physically. When we were in Arizona last month, her cousins were bouncing on the beds. At first Annie was standing off to the side, watching, but she eventually asked if she could also jump. I never thought I’d actually encourage a child of mine to jump on the bed, but she was being so timid and I wanted her to break out a bit.
As you can see, she took it very seriously.
Last week my parents and I took Annie to the playground near our house. She liked running around on the grass and sitting on my lap on the swing, but she was hesitant to climb up the stairs of the play structures without me holding her hand. I climbed with her a bit at first, hoping she’d get comfortable, but she got nervous when she saw the only way down was the slide. I went down with her first to show her it was fun. She wanted me to keep sliding with her, but these playground slides are not made for women with childbearing hips. My dad and I started lifting her to the top of the slide, and then we’d hold onto her waist and slide her down. It was going well until she said, “NO. Annie do it.”
I was so happy to hear that she wanted to try it herself. My dad stood next to her and my mom and I stood at the bottom of the slide. My dad placed her at the top and let go. She sat there for a minute, clutching the sides, and then slowly eased herself down.
When she got to the bottom, she sat there for a minute and then said, “Again!”
I was so happy that she did something she’d previously thought was too scary. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses, because I might have teared up like a dork. My cautious girl was being bold!
By the end of our time at the playground, she went down the slide dozens of times. On the last trip down, she only held on with one hand.
It’s this weird parenting line that we’re straddling. I want her to be confident and outgoing, but not so outgoing that she runs up to strangers. I want her to challenger herself and try new things, but I don’t want her scaling bookcases. How am I supposed to know when to push and when to hold her back?
she did hang with me for a bit today! (coughbabywhisperercough)
she’s so cute…i’m sure she’ll be knocking down strangers and fences in no time.
Lynda M O says:
We all wonder when to push and when to caution against jumping right in…
My baby is 26 and I ask that question still.
You know what Heather – you and Mike know her the best. My advice would be to follow Annie’s lead. If you think she can handle the challenge, give her some stronger encouragement but if she seems anxious or of course frighten, pull back. You guys are doing a great job. I think the best any of us can do is just follow our children’s leads. Of course there will be mistakes and doubts but that when we learn.
Your doing good Mama!!! Annie is one lucky little girl!!
Do you have any gymboree classess in your area that you could take her for? They were great fun for us (16 yrs ago) and it helped socialize and get their motor skills going and the parents don’t leave. It might be worth looking into.
You will always know your daughter better than anyone follow your instincts and both of you will be fine.
When you know, let me know!
I have a really, really timid kid as well. We enrolled him in gymnastics. It made all the difference – at least at the playground! He’s pretty confident with himself physically now, which lets him relax a little in social situations where there is something to do/climb, etc. Seriously the best money we have ever spent.
Now is the time to hold her close! I think she will grow out of a lot of her shyness based on how the rest of her personality is so outgoing. The others are right – you know her best and are doing a great job.
honestly, it sounds like you’re doing it just right.
I love it! I know the feeling you described it perfectly…the pride. You are doing so great with her, and I am truly enjoying reading about each and every moment you are kind enough to share with us. My kids are older now..the youngest being five..but sometimes these stories you share bring back a memory of when mine where her age..sigh..and cause a tear or two to well up.
Annie sounds so much like my daughter. It’s not only a cautious thing, you may notice as she gets older that she wants to be good at things RIGHT AWAY. I’m sure she will be at most of them, but you may find yourself at a roller rink one day that she begged you to go to , only to have her take her first step and fall and declare this the WORST THING EVER.
We sat and observed for about an hour and she finally decided to give it another try, on her terms, and raced around the rink like a maniac FOR THE LAST 10 MINUTES.
It used to be so frustrating, but now I know to take a deep breath and know she’ll do it eventually, when she has the confidence she can do it well.
It sounds like you are doing just the right things. Holding her hand until she tells you she’s ready to go it alone. Keep on that track. She’ll learn to trust that you’ll always be there for her (even if you aren’t physically there) but she can do things by herself too. It is such a hard line to follow.
My daughter was very timid until 3 yrs old. At that time I put her in pre-school twice a week and she grew out of her shell. At 4 she wanted to do gymnastics and from then on she was always the one to volunteer to do anything and everything. Her confidence level is very hight and she challenges herself to the highest. She’s very focused and never gives up.
Annie will break out of her shell. At her time! She’s guide her and stand beside her and she will get more and more confident.
Wow, sounds to me from this post that you already intuitively know exactly when to encourage her, and when to allow for caution. You are clearly so attuned and sensitive with her–right on!
Your Annie sounds SO much like my Anna at that age. I had such similar thoughts and struggles – when to encourage/ push, when to just let her be. She is now nearly 3 and has come out of her shell in a HUGE way, both physically and emotionally. I never really felt like she was “shy”, rather slow to warm up to new people and situations. She would be talking, singing and dancing all day at home, but then totally clam up around new people.
In the last 6 months she has really blossomed. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence but it’s really been noticeable since she started at daycare 2 days/week. Might have happened anyway, who knows. But these days she will swing like a monkey off the top of slides, barge her way into games being played by kids twice her age and happily chat to almost anyone.
My advice – encourage, don’t push. And, just my 2 cents, but as a person who was labelled as “shy” as a kid I do my best not to use that label with my daughter (and sometimes even say ‘oh no, she just takes her time to warm up’ when random people comment on how ‘shy’ she was). I just felt like that became a bit of an issue for me as a child, i was always a bit anxious but being labelled as shy wasn’t particularly helpful for me, and like my daughter I’m actually not that shy at all – I just take my time to warm up to new ppl.
Your little girl is gorgeous, and you guys seem to be doing a fabulous job!
You might want to good “tricky people” on checklistmommy dot come
Strangers are not all bad, in fact most of them are good people. In fact, most child predators are people the child already knows.
I’m absolutely not telling you how to parent, I just thought it might be worth the read for you guys. I worry about my quiet girl constantly.
I know sometimes you have to, but try not to push her too hard. I was always a very shy and cautious kid — it’s just who I am. Some of my more painful memories are of adults pushing me away from that. Making me do things that were genuinely very scary for me (including certain social interactions), and then being disappointed in me when I didn’t/couldn’t.
I wish all adults could have pushed me out of my comfort zone enough to be capable and safe, but not to become someone I wasn’t (bold and outgoing). I’m sure it’s a fine line, but I think it’s really important to recognize a kid’s boundaries and personality.
my daughter was the same way. She’s still like that. Its nice. Dont have to worry about her running off in a parking lot or grocery store and getting lost, and she’s very well behaved at school etc. My advice: Follow her lead and provide her with opportunities to slide out of her comfort zone but dont force. Annie is just so cute on the bed picture!
Expat Mom says:
I remember when my anxious kid first went down a slide on his own (preceeded by his fearless little brother). His face lit up when he realized he could do it on his own.
On the shy thing, I was a super shy kid and my parents did push me to do some things. In some cases, it ended in me being very embarrassed and becoming more withdrawn, so I think you’re doing the right thing with mostly letting Annie lead the way.
It is so hard to know when to push and when hold her back – it sounds like you are striking the perfect parenting balance with Annie.
That’s a tough one for sure. I often feel like I’m projecting on V when I push her to be more outgoing. I was so painfully shy as a child and missed out on so much that I don’t want her to have the same regrets, but at the same time I know she has to build her own experiences.
But the biggest take away I want for her is to know we’ll always support her.
Leigh Elliott says:
I think you and Mike are doing great. I feel the same way with my daughter. She is my one and only child also, and i feel like i am learning right along with her most of the time. I think you are smart to follow her lead, and keep doing all the things you are doing. Have fun, avoid traffic.
It is a hard line to draw, and I’m still figuring it out with my daughter who is eight (although, she has come a long way since she was three, thankfully). I think letting them go at their own pace as much as possible is best.
Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? says:
My son is the same way… he is VERY analytical so, in turn, he has to observe and calculate the whole process before he does it. I believe this cautious, well thought out way of thinking will take him far in life. Even though, right now, it seems like everything has to come with a push and nudge from me.
She will be fine, trust me! My first was, oh lord, I have never met a child that shy in my life. Social functions were excruciating. “Can’t find a babysitter? Just bring her!” is a statement that would literally make me cringe. She’d scream if someone looked at her in the grocery store. Oddly enough, she did REALLY well with babysitters, which I never comprehended, but take her out of her home to a place with more than one or two outsiders (even regularly-seen faces scared her), and she’d velcro to one of our hips and cry every time someone said ‘hi.’
We just stuck with it. “It’s okay to be afraid, but you need to be polite,” and we’d make her wave a hand, or say “thank you.” Or, “It’s okay to be afraid, but try it anyway; that’s how you stop being afraid.” We alternated between 100% nurturing and drill sergeant, depending on what we thought the occasion called for. I’m sure we got it wrong pretty frequently, but the amazing thing about kids is that “good enough” really is good enough most of the time. Parents don’t have to be perfect to turn out decent children; can you imagine the state of civilization if they did?
It took a long time (from 8? months to about 3 years of age), but one day she started coming out of her shell a little more every day, doing things on purpose that terrified her. And now she’s super outgoing (3.5 years). She has her shy moments–especially in crowds–, but overall, she’s a total extrovert, and not in a bad way. She isn’t reckless at all. I think for now you can breathe easy.
I was that kid. The good news is that my mom never ever worried about me, because she knew I’d never do anything stupid. On the other hand, she had to push me out of my comfort zone quite a bit, knowing that left to my own devices, I’d just be perfectly happy never interacting with anyone, ever.
My kid’s the total opposite of that. A stranger is a friend she hasn’t met yet, and her favorite thing to do is to let go of my hand when we’re out and about, wander about, and go “hay!” to perfect strangers. Thus I’m faced with a dilemma opposite yours: should I try to hold her back from being her natural bubbly self, when I know that I’m overcautious in general? Thus far I haven’t, but it’s been tough for me to override my own instincts to be cautious around everyone.
It’s a very fine line, this parenting business.
Jaime Maynard says:
Our daughter Evangeline is the same age as Annie (as I have said at least a dozen times now here), we suffer from the exact opposite. She lacks sensible fear and is NOT afraid of strangers, in fact, she want’s to hug them all for the most part. Daycare say she hugs all the parents when they drop off their kids and that if this dosn’t pass we will have to teach her about Stranger Danger; because their pretty sure she would go home with a stranger. It sucks, I am happy she is so confident in herself and fearless, however I also wish she had more social boundaries. I guess the point is…their 2 and their own people, all we can do is guide them and try and keep them safe…shy or not..eventually they will come around.