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5 year old lacks confidence

(18 Posts)
makeyourown Wed 26-Nov-14 23:31:39

Today 5 yr old DS's class had a little show where they had to sing for the parents. He was the only one who didn't join in, he just stood there without singing or doing the actions, looking really uncomfortable.

We have tried taking him to after school activities but he always says he is too nervous too join in. How can we best encourage him to feel more confident and get involved? I am reluctant to just drop him off at some class and leave him to it. I know he would find this really upsetting and I'm not sure it would actually help things. The last thing I took him too was a gym class. We sat and watched for a while and though he said he wanted to do it, he said he was too nervous and refused to join in.

I should add that we live overseas and so all of these activities are not in his preferred language, which I'm sure is part of the problem, but I would like to get feedback about this in general, as we have no way of knowing if he would be the same if it was all in English.

Any thoughts appreciated, it's tough to watch him struggle with something that other kids do with ease.

holeinmyheart Thu 27-Nov-14 08:49:52

The first thing to do is to stop worrying. Easy to say I know, but having brought up several children, of both sexes, to adult hood, I wasted years worrying unnecessarily about this or that problem. Each decade throws up a different problem.
All of my children are very different. I have a very very introverted son who would cringe if he had to give a presentation at work and is basically a bit of a loner. I have another DD who is like jumping Jack flash, she is always the centre of attention and cares about the planet, small furry animals etc, then I have another one who is quite emotional, a bit selfish, doesn't worry much etc etc. shall I go on about the others( might get outed)
if you provide a warm caring home with plenty of approval and kindness in it. You show love to your child by being cuddly when he wants you to be and listening to him, then that is all you can do. You can't change his essential being. Believe me you can't.
This stage, ( each decade of their lives changes them) WILL PASS
Perhaps the change of countries has rocked his confidence but all you can do is wait and see, and try not to get too anxious about it yourself, as he will pick up on it. Your anxiety will only heighten his.

Goldmandra Fri 28-Nov-14 13:10:43

Please don't think of this as something you need to fix.

Let him be the person he is and do what makes him feel comfortable. Unless he is upset because he feels he is missing out on things you don't need to change anything.

naturalbaby Fri 28-Nov-14 13:22:35

I have a very similar problem with my ds and he's been the same in England and overseas where we now live. We've tried quite a few activities and found one that he's really interested in so he is really happy to go and join in. The only way he'll join in at other activities that he's not too keen on (some sports and music) is if he's with a friend.

makeyourown Fri 28-Nov-14 22:30:22

Thanks for the replies. Actually, it's DH who is more bothered. I feel we have to accept him the way he is with some gentle encouragement. DH was totally freaking out about it and stressing me out to be quite honest! He's worried he will struggle all his life if he lacks confidence. I believe he's more likely to gain confidence if we support who he is rather than push him to be more out there. Thanks for reassuring me. ;)

Goldmandra Fri 28-Nov-14 23:30:13

* I believe he's more likely to gain confidence if we support who he is rather than push him to be more out there.*

Exactly. If someone starts telling him that his inability to perform makes him inadequate in some way, his confidence will be eroded whereas, at the moment, he may be quite comfortable in his own skin and happy to sit back and leave the limelight to the others.

holeinmyheart Sat 29-Nov-14 09:06:29

I had a Toxic Father who only thought going to Oxford University and getting a first was acceptable. His horrible behaviour towards us, where nothing we did was ever good enough, ruined our childhood.
We did everything to try and please him, all to no avail. We couldn't change into what he wanted us to be. It took me a long time to get out from underneath the mountain of guilt he heaped on top of me. I would feel upset when I am typing this but I have done ' Mindful', so I don't.

You can't change a child's nature and intellect. But you can cherish and value them for what they are.
What ever you give them in terms of love and acceptance and respect will be paid back to you in shed loads.
I and my poor siblings were nearly killed emotionally by my Father. I wouldn't wish that upbringing on any child. I felt lonely and unloved, no little creature deserves that.!
Thank goodness I was able to love my own DCs.

makeyourown Sat 29-Nov-14 14:28:33

Sorry to hear of your experience holeinmyheart, but DH is not like that. He is very loving and only wants our son to be happy. Though I feel he overreacted, I know it is only because he worries that our son will struggle to feel happy if he feels awkward and nervous, not because he wants him to be "a success".
Our son is growing up trilingual because we live in a spanish speaking country and his father is french. This would be an ideal set up, I think, for a pushy, academically driven father. But when we see DS struggling with the confidence to express himself out with English we worry it is too much for him. DH wonders if we should drop the French to make life easier for him, even though that would mean he wouldn't be able to communicate with DH's family. He puts our sons happiness above his achievements.

Pelicangiraffe Sat 29-Nov-14 14:36:38

I wouldn't drop the French as it's probably more to do with his personality.

Is he a sensitive person generally? Is he tuned into others and his own emotions? Does he find flavours and clothes seems difficult.

makeyourown Sat 29-Nov-14 14:52:05

Yes, I would say he is sensitive. A friend recently said he was very mature for his age, and maybe he thinks a lot about things. One of the reasons that young children are seen as able to learn languages easily is because they tend to just speak without fear of making mistakes, whereas adults are more selfconscious. DS seems to worry about making mistakes in French and Spanish. He is far more confident and outgoing when he meets an English speaker.

holeinmyheart Sat 29-Nov-14 17:03:47

Mmm Please don't drop the French. Being Trip-lingual is so useful. My Parents were not English.
I am sure that it is just his personality.

Pelicangiraffe Sat 29-Nov-14 17:14:07

Get a book called the highly sensitive child by Aron. Read the reviews on Amazon.

Sensitive kids tend to hold back, observe a lot, then only join in once ready. One of my sons is sensitive and he is also very reflective, considerate, caring, creative and observing.

Also it might be worth looking at your own attitude to making mistakes. Are you relaxed if you spill milk, get an appointment time wrong or get your pronounciation wrong?

One idea is for DH to speak in French still but for DS to reply in what ever language he wants to.

holeinmyheart Sun 30-Nov-14 10:10:24

Mmm wise words from Pelican
If we ourselves come from a family full of depressives, introverts, extroverts, artistic types etc, it is strange to think our children will not inherit some of these traits.
Also characteristics that we see in ourselves are not always welcome when we see them in our children.
My DC are all amazingly different, but similar at the same time. I am sad that two of them have asthma but then I have it. One of them had PND but their Grannie had it. One if them is ultra sensitive and loving.
Our children are a soup of ancestors from both sides. There is nothing you can do about their inherent character. You will always love them but sometimes you may not like them.
Provide your DC with a loving stable home and then it is up to him. You cannot live his life for him.
It is horrible having to let go. I hating them suffering over being dumped, not getting jobs that they wanted etc etc. Sorry you are only at the start of your DSs life. Having a child is one long learning curve. Mine are nearly 40 and I am still worrying about them.

TheHappyCamper Sun 30-Nov-14 10:24:45

I came on to suggest "The sensitive child" by Elaine Aron but see I have been beaten to it. This totally changed our outlook on our 5 year old dd (then 3.5). It is a must read for parents of sensitive children, particularly if as parents you are more outgoing.

Since we decided to just accept our dd was how she was and stopped trying to get her to be like all the other confident kids, she has blossomed. There is a similar little lad in the year above dd, and I have become friends with his Mum. I lent her the book and she was like shock - felt like she could just let him be!

Support, acceptance and gentle encouragement are the way forward. Also, don't feel you have to apologise for him being like this, especially if he can hear you! When he's an adult, these qualities that seem to hold him back now will be an advantage - cautious, perceptive, ability to read an atmosphere and emotional sensitivity.

We have also taught dd that the feeling in her tummy is called "nervous" and it's ok to feel that, lots of people do. Giving it a name seemed to help her understand that it wasn't something unusual or awful.

makeyourown Sun 30-Nov-14 17:13:58

Thanks all - I will get that book. Now just to persuade DH to read it too! ;)

makeyourown Sun 30-Nov-14 17:18:18

Oh, and I think we are relaxed about making mistakes. It's pretty easy going in our house. Though perhaps less so when I have PMS!

Pelicangiraffe Sun 30-Nov-14 22:17:39

Do report back how you find the book. I read it in a week and it was life changing. Made me see all his sensitive qualities in a positive light and helped me understand that DS needs down time, gets overwhelmed, needs life to happen at a steady pace

makeyourown Mon 01-Dec-14 03:12:20

I will. Have just ordered it now - Amazon doesn't deliver here but luckily I have family visiting soon. I mentioned it to DH today and he said he would like to read it too - that's the first time he's ever shown an interest in a parenting book. smile

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