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Can you mould a child's personality?

(26 Posts)
CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 15:34:19

I'm not sure where I'm going wth this but I think being a shy baby or child is largely seen as a bad thing and it gets on my nerves.

My eldest is very sociable, has never been shy, will talk to anyone, everyone thinks this is great and wonderful and says it must be because he went to nursery and so on.

My youngest so far seems a bit shy, takes a while to get used to new people, bit more high needs I suppose. Certain people seem to think this is less desirable and somehow my fault. It's because he hasn't been left with lots of different people and is spoilt. Certain family members seem disappointed when he doesn't perform with their friends because he doesn't know them. I should apparently be forcing him into situations to get him out of his shyness and it will do him good.

What people don't seem to realise is I've treated them exactly the same and have only adapted my parenting to meet their needs.

Astoria797 Tue 30-Aug-16 15:43:00

I think it might be because he's a boy. People expect boys to be loud and boisterous & when they're not they find ways to blame mum. If he'd been female it wouldn't have been an issue.

Idliketobeabutterfly Tue 30-Aug-16 15:46:33

I think it is your family members with the issues, not your son. Nothing wrong with him or you.

TealLove Tue 30-Aug-16 15:49:00

Each child is who they are. It's a combination of nature and nurture.
I feel if a child picks up that one wants them to be different it makes them feel like they are not good enough. But they are fine being themselves.

ollieplimsoles Tue 30-Aug-16 15:49:12

Its your family that is the problem op, not you or him.

Expecting a child to entertain them, sheesh what losers.

SnakeWitch Tue 30-Aug-16 15:49:54

I would tread carefully. You don't want to make him feel inadequate when it's a personality trait. Can you force a child out of shyness, anyway? He might just need support and encouragement to find his own way.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 30-Aug-16 15:52:14

I was a shy kid. I think it's an inherent personality trait rather than a result of your parenting, but I also think you can give a shy child opportunities to practise interacting with others in order to help them get over it.

Is it a less desirable characteristic? Well, depends on your perspective, I guess. However, I do feel that my own shyness and social anxiety held me back in the first 25 years of my life, and I wish my parents had done more to push me out of my comfort zone and help me acquire the social confidence that came much more naturally to my older sister. Eventually I pushed myself, and I wouldn't describe myself as she any more - though I'm not exactly brimming with confidence either.

My dd is like my DH, not a shy bone in her body. She seems able to make friends very easily, and I envy her a bit tbh. If she had been shy like me, then I'd have worked hard to address it. Not because there is actually anything wrong with it per se, but because I think it can make life more difficult.

MrsKCastle Tue 30-Aug-16 15:52:21

I don't think you can shape their personalities exactly, but I think you can encourage or discourage certain behaviours. I would never 'force' a shy child into situations which scare him/her, I can't see how that would be helpful at all and it would be pretty cruel. But if you felt the shyness was due to a lack of confidence, then I reckon you could help him to overcome that with lots of praise and encouragement. On the other hand, if he's just a quieter child, then maybe it's the people who are criticizing you that need to work on their behaviour!

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 30-Aug-16 15:53:01

They've done studies [pretend link] that show that certain personality traits are very persistent from very very young through life. One is whether a child is fast approach or slow approach. You can't change that. You can help him develop skills to help. You can boost his self esteem and support him. You can't change a basic personality trait.

Thank goodness because the world would be full of arseholes if you could.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 30-Aug-16 15:54:37

Actual link I found it.

Acopyofacopy Tue 30-Aug-16 15:54:43

Certain family members are clueless idiots. You can't force a child to be less shy. What certain family members could do is change their behaviour in order to make the shy child more comfortable.

You just carry on, children come in all shapes and sizes with their own personality. hmm

CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 15:56:10

That's the thing snakewitch I couldn't care less if he's shy, I'm just fed up of people telling me he's not shy and I'm spoiling him.

RebelRogue Tue 30-Aug-16 16:03:03

Op just tell them ds is NOT a performing monkey and they are not at a circus. If they want entertainment the can fuck off to a show. Dd is shy but very few people notice that(it's her teachers that noticed it the most). If she warms up to people is completely on her terms,and it tend to be with people that put the effort in,try to talk with her at her level,things that interest her etc. Patronising dick that "expect" something are normally encountered with a stony silence and her turning her back to them. I refuse to force her to interact,given that she actually is a fairly independent child,with a busier social life than i havegringrin

CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 16:03:05

By the way he's only 14 months. He's actually really fun and playful, he just seems to feel happier with mum or dad in the background for reassurance. He takes a bit of time to warm to new people but he will happily stay with certain people he knows for a while. He's clearly very happy once one of us is back.

CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 16:05:17

They annoy me because if he goes into a room full of new people he takes a while and will stay near me or dh and cry if a stranger just takes him.

CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 16:08:08

Posted too soon.

They start apologising for him saying "he's not normally like this", or that's it's because he's with me 24/7.

RebelRogue Tue 30-Aug-16 16:10:25

Oh jesus he's still a baby. Honestly tell them to fuck off

Spaghettidog Tue 30-Aug-16 16:10:31

What I think is important for parents to do is to model the kind of behaviour they would like to encourage in their child, whether that's confidence or considerateness or anything else.

I have a vague sense that I was 'naturally' a sparky, talkative small child, who had my confidence crushed out of me by a punitive, repressive school environment and also an emotionally illiterate, socially anxious mother who (a) saw confidence in a child, especially a girl, as being 'forward' and 'bold as brass' and to be avoided but also (b) was always banging on about me being 'shy' when I was older and trying to force me into situations she would never have dreamed of putting herself in and then sniggering about my discomfort. It was a fairly toxic combination, especially as she had absolutely no sense that I was a separate person from her, and viewed us both as natural 'victims' of the socially confident, which was an incredibly unhelpful attitude to a child.

She had a deprived and unhappy upbringing herself, so what I'm trying to do with my four year old is to break that cycle of poor parenting, to recognise and respect his difference from me, to model friendships and independence and kind but assertive where necessary behaviour to others, to be explicitly loving and proud and not to limit his options, and to be perfectly matter of fact about failures and fears. These happen all the time, and are perfectly normal and not something to cause fear and worry.

PuntasticUsername Tue 30-Aug-16 16:12:05

Fourteen months?!

FFS. YANBU and the people making these comments are very odd.

Spaghettidog Tue 30-Aug-16 16:12:13

Just saw your update - he's a tiny baby! They are being absolutely ridiculous. Tell them to fuck off with their apologies for a small child whose caution is perfectly understandable! Go right on doing what you're doing and being there in the background for him as long as he needs you!

SnakeWitch Tue 30-Aug-16 16:16:19

Sorry, I think I got the wrong end of the stick a bit - I see now it's them that are concerned. He's still so little! Got tons more developing to do, he sounds like lots of small children, it must be annoying for you to have these comments. Would a firm 'when he's ready' get them to back off?

CedricSydneySneer Tue 30-Aug-16 16:22:28

Sorry, I should have put his age in my op.

I wasn't sure quite how to word what my annoyance is about.

He might totally change but even if he carries on being shy I think that's completely fine and would only try to help him with gentler methods.

I don't think I'm going to help him along by just leaving him with lots of people as has been suggested.

Brokenbiscuit Tue 30-Aug-16 16:28:05

Ah, only 14 minutes months? He's a tiny baby and you should just leave him be, then! He is very, very small and your relatives are talking shit.

If he does turn out to be shy, don't force him to do stuff he doesn't want to do, but do encourage him to leave his comfort zone sometimes so that he gradually builds up his confidence.

Right now, though, a secure attachment to you is the thing that matters most - that will build his confidence more than any amount of interaction with people he doesn't know. There is plenty of time for socialising later!

Witchend Tue 30-Aug-16 16:49:28

Dd1 was a very sociable baby and toddler. Went to anyone, smiled on cue etc.
Dd2 was totally antisocial. Wrapped herself round me screaming. She glared if someone she didn't know came near with a particular hatred for hats.
Both were treated the same -neither did nursery.

However dd2 is now the more sociable of the pair (teens)

CheshireChat Tue 30-Aug-16 17:27:33

My DS is incredibly confident and sociable and he won't always go to someone else, why should he?!

As far as I remember, at this age it's actually best to leave him be as he'll know later on his parents are his allies if that makes sense.

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