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Fearful and shy 17 month old, any experiences/advice?

(6 Posts)
teacupnic Fri 08-Jan-16 22:18:30

Does anyone have any experience of a fearful and quiet toddler? Just wondering whether I should be worried about his behaviour and wanted views of other Gentle Parents on this.

Whenever I go to groups with my 17 month old son, he seems to find something frightening. For example, the play parachute or puppets. He is fearful to the point of burying his head in my chest. I've tried going to the edges of the room etc, but he still seems to be scared. Anything I can do other than reassure?

I'm also a bit concerned that he doesn't seem to have a lot of confidence. Sometimes a group leader will scatter soft toys on the floor or something like that and he will 'hang back' at the back of the group of children and wait until they're finished. This means that at times he doesn't get a toy or is last to get one. He is always last in the queue. I may be worrying too much, as I'm not very confident and introverted but could this be a problem for him in the future?

He is sociable, talks to other children, plays with them and interacts well with other adults too. He's smiley and happy but I do worry that he's going to grow up lacking in confidence and being anxious like me. I think I'm probably projecting but can anyone offer any advice?

barnet Fri 08-Jan-16 22:25:32

There is nothing wrong with introverts! I am reading a book right now (Quiet) about how important and effective they are..,,

GnomePhone Sat 09-Jan-16 13:44:28

There's a difference between introversion and being anxious, just something to bear in mind. You're probably best placed to decide whether he is becoming distressed or overwhelmed in situations, look out for signs such as shutting down, trying to escape/avoid, becoming tearful or angry. If this is happening then maybe reconsider things like whether that group is suitable, length of time spent there, etc and adjust your routine if necessary. It may be that while he's still so small he might better with very small groups, eg inviting one or two friends round, playing in a quiet area of playgrounds etc. If he seems happier like this then it's a good basis to build on for the future. smile

Ferguson Sat 09-Jan-16 19:57:34

I think your final paragraph shows there is no real cause for concern.

If there are certain situations or environments that worry or unsettle him, then maybe just avoid them for now, until he is more 'robust'.

strawberrybubblegum Sat 09-Jan-16 23:08:27

My DD was very cautious and anxious for the first 2 years of her life, and I worried a lot about it too.

I can sympathise with sitting at the edge of groups with an upset toddler - I certainly did lots of that. I also recognise the 'hanging back' - my DD did that too. Not only with toys, but also on playground equipment etc: despite being very active and desperate to go on things, she would always let other children push in front of her. It's so frustrating when they just need that bit more confidence!

My approach was to keep taking her to classes - I would have stopped if she had got very distressed or obviously hated it - but I accepted that she would cry for a part of each class.

But I did always provide comfort, and pick her up/carry her whenever she wanted. It doesn't really matter if all the other children are marching round happily holding their mum's hand and you have to carry your DC week after week instead. No-one really cares - they are thinking about their own child.

DD is now 3, and has transformed in the last year. She's still quite serious (some nice people have said mature grin) and sensitive (especially to noise or crowding) but she is very eager to do things and learn.

She's starting preschool this term and at one of her activities she now goes in without me - and she's coping fine with both. I gave her the choice of whether to do the activity by herself - she thought about it for a few minutes then decided yes.

I'd even go as far as to say that she has a certain quiet inner confidence now - which I CERTAINLY couldn't have imagined saying when she was 18months old!!

So don't despair. Children have different personalities, but being anxious at 18 months doesn't mean he'll stay that way or that it will be a problem. He really is still so tiny.

strawberrybubblegum Sat 09-Jan-16 23:36:36

Just thinking, things I did to try to increase confidence were:
1. giving as much choice and freedom as was reasonably possible (eg choice over clothing, time to look at stones/leaves when out walking)
2. giving her opportunities to develop concrete skills like pouring the milk into her own glass (try not to flinch when it spills: it's easy to clean up and they soon learn!); baking with you etc. It shows them that you trust and respect them, and I read that developing competence (in anything) is a way to boost general confidence.

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