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Shyness going on for too long(2 Posts)
Our 4 year old is still terrified of entering a room of people. This started just after her 2nd birthday and everyone assured us it was just a phase and would get better. It seems to be worse.
One example is not long before lockdown, we visited her grandparents and there were other family members there too. She just literally clung to either myself or her daddy, hiding her face, she doesn’t make a noise at all. We tell them to ignore her but it makes no difference. She eventually went upstairs and stayed there until everyone left so just her grandparents and ourselves left. We tried throughout the occasion to coax her down, but she wouldn’t. This is very draining, as we can’t relax and enjoy ourselves while socializing.
Apart from these situations, she’s a completely different child, lively, chatty and very happy. She’s an only child, not that it would make any difference. We just want to feel relaxed while going to family and friends, where we are not spending half the time, trying to comfort her and stop her clinging tight to us.
Any tips will be welcomed, we are desperate🥺🥺🥺
Hey there. I can only really offer my personal experiences but this sounds a lot like me when I was little. I was a painfully shy child and was absolutely terrified of social situations like being at my nans with all my aunt's and uncles around me. I was able to be more myself around my more immediate family which is why like with you guys it must have felt odd that I was different elsewhere. I know it doesn't necessarily change anything practically for you but I think if you try to empathise with how these situations may feel for her it may help understand where she's at. I still have vivid memories of what family gatherings used to feel like to me. Imagine everyone being bigger taller and louder than her. Some of my family members were very extroverted and even when trying to be friendly they were just so intimidating to me. Add to that that my parents who were the ones I'd seek for safety were distracted and unavailable during some of those interactions and quite often little one is expected to socialise on the spot with ppl they see rarely and just get on with it. The one thing that I always remember that really never helps is that adults do have this very strange tendency to commentate on shy children and declare and comment on in front of everyone how shy they are - trust me in the history of shy children I have never known that to help! I totally understand your frustrations as it must be encroaching on your family time and ability to lead a normal social life but can you possibly think of middle ground things to mitigate? It'll take a while but if she feels a sense of safety that'll help. So things like do you have a more quiet introverted family member who can keep a little eye on her, come and chat to her gently in a quiet corner and maybe be the one to go upstairs and see her so she is learning to be soothed by someone else? Also something simple like if you're round someones house giving her a couple of brreaks for breathing space so a quick walk around the garden so she has some time to decompress? I used to feel such anxious adenaline at that age and of course as a child you have no idea or the concept of time and how long social events will last. Wherever possible where she does come downstairs etc id refrain from putting her under any pressure to do things she won't be comfy with and just allow her the space to have a play quietly if that what she wants. Not sure if you so this but less of the usual stuff like "go and play with so and so", "come and say hello to so and so" "come and give so and so a kiss" helps. My dad had rhhis awful habit of parading me around his work friends at parties and I'd feel so embarassed. I expect she will change a little as she is older but for now a good middle ground might be to lower expectations slightly, maybe help her anticipate what to expect "we're going to Granny's today and seeing X and Y", lots of quiet praise for bravery and utilisation of some of your gentler relatives may help!
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