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Have no idea how to manage my DDs sensitivity, just had an awful experience and need some help

(38 Posts)
CrushWithEyeliner Fri 10-Jul-09 13:49:54

DD is 2.5. I have posted about her before, she is highly sensitive to everything always has been - to food smells, labels, atmospheres and people. She is also a deep little thinker and likes to have an explanation for everything. Her vocabulary is extensive and she is v tall and comes across as a much older child. She is fun loving but it doesn't come naturally to her iyswim. She will never dive in. 99% of the time this is easy to manage if I am there to reassure her she will loosen up but it is hard at times.

I like to take her to the park and she will start to have great fun on a ride but as soon as another child comes to join she runs away. She does this with 15m old babies so not just bigger children. This morning I got SO frustrated with her and kept telling her we will go if she doesn't play and have fun, reassure her the other children will not bother her but she just kept running away, one of the Mums started talking (not particularly gently) to her asking her to go on the roundabout which just makes her worse. I did my stock phrase "she's a bit shy" and she just gave me a funny look. Nice.

I wanted to cry there and then. Then she got freaked again and stopped halfway on a high slide and tried to come off. I grabbed her off sad and told her off that she did such a silly, dangerous thing. She was sobbing and so was I sad. I feel like shit so please don't have a go, I know I shouldn't have done that to her. I want to know how I manage this; do I keep going to the playground? How will she cope with pre-school in Sept? How shall I handle this so she doesn't get worse? I am very fragile here.

HighOnDieselAndGasoline Fri 10-Jul-09 13:55:15

I am no expert as my DD is younger, but she sounds just like my niece. I would have said that that sort of behaviour was normal for a 2 year old (e.g. trying to come off the slide, being shy of the other kids and mums etc.).

If it was me, I would keep going to the playground, and just let her do what she is comfortable with. If she doesn't want to go on rides with other children, don't push it. Just let her relax and she will probably build up her confidence.

Poor you, you sound very stressed about it all. You sound like a great mum, and your DD sounds lovely. I am sure they have seen it all in pre-school and will help her settle in.

Now, hopefully somebody else will come along who knows what they are talking about! smile

saythatagain Fri 10-Jul-09 13:56:25

I'm sorry to hear that - for you both. I don't have any advice for you; there will be plenty who will though. It is such a minefield being a parent - what is the best thing to do/don't? I hope things get sorted for you both. Is your daughter just someone who is very, very shy and needs a little more persuasion/backup than other children? Good luck x

PrettyCandles Fri 10-Jul-09 13:58:13

Have you read The Out-of-Synch Child? I haven't, but have seen it recommended here many times.

My ds1 was a bit like your dd. I found it better not to make a fuss of his issues, but to ensure that for every opportunity to face up to his issues, I also provided the opportunity for him to stay within his comfort zone. His major issue was sound. I think he got overwhelmed by more than just volume, so if I knew we were likely to be experiencing challenging noises, then I would stand behind him with my hands ready to go over his ears. That way he knew that I was there for him, and that it was safe to face his fears.

He did outgrow most of his issues, or else learn to deal with them. He will still, occasionally, at age 8 watch balloon modelling with his hands ready to clap over his ears!

A good pre-school will take on board these aspects of your dd's personality and cope with them. Ours did.

Housemum Fri 10-Jul-09 13:59:10

How is she with children she knows - do you have friends nearby with children? Perhaps they could go together? Or look for a local coffee morning eg NCT or similar with a mix of similar age children to your DD, as it might be a quieter setting than a park. See if you can find small ways of introducing her to more children without straying too far from her comfort zone.

PrettyCandles Fri 10-Jul-09 14:00:25

Might I suggest that you don't use "she's shy" too much, or, as she grows up she may find herself stuck in the label. Perhaps you could say something along the lines of "she'll do it when she's ready"?

mascaraohara Fri 10-Jul-09 14:01:53

Have you tried reading "the Highly Sensitive Child"

Somebody once recommended it to me on her for my dd and I have to say, though she didn't quite fit highly sensitive category it helped me a lot.

CrushWithEyeliner Fri 10-Jul-09 14:01:53

Thank you all for your replies - I have to rush off now but promise will be back to read and answe in more depth. x

ProfYaffle Fri 10-Jul-09 14:04:07

Oh bless her, she sounds just like my dd1. She was/is exactly the same re other children and coming off the slide etc.

She's now 5 and coming to the end of reception year, nursery and school have done wonders for her self confidence. She's still wary of other kids sometimes but she's so much better than she was.

My only advice is to give her the space to be herself, don't pressurise her into situations she's uncomfortable with but do gently encourage her. She needs to know that you're on her side.

Pyrocanthus Fri 10-Jul-09 14:05:21

No, I don't know what I'm talking about either, but I'm sure HighOnDiesel is right: don't hide her from the world, but don't force her to do anything she's not comfortable with.

My DD1 was never as sensitive as yours, but she was much less confident with other children when she was little than she is now (wildly sociable). She became much more relaxed around children of her own age as they all became more verbal - she liked to talk a lot from an early age, and felt more comfortable with adults for a while.

DD2 was less verbal as a toddler, and did seem to find it easier to make friends (she had a foolproof method of running up to another tot, grinning, then running away - even worked abroad).

Is she your first? She might just need to get used to other children.

mirrorflash Fri 10-Jul-09 14:21:26

Take it easy and try to relax about it. If your dd senses you're tense she'll pick that up and it will make the situation worse.

My dd is sensitive. I could virtually never put her down for the first two years. And very hesitant around other children, so that we were never successful in puttting in pre-school. It's taken a few years to build up her experience and confidence. At 4 and a half she was ready and bounded off to school with absolutely no problems whatsoever. smile

She'll always be sensitive and I think I have learned to view that as a positive character/personality trait. It's the one she was born with and although she has grown in confidence and has her own coping strategies, she won't fundamentally change that side of her. It gives her an awareness of the world that has it's benefits as she's grown older.

Now aged 10 she can go off abroad with the school for a holiday and hardly glance back at me - what a difference a few years makes! And she's never the one crying into her pillow at night on these holidays - truthfully, it's the outwardly confident, sociable girls that cry!

Don't panic about it, there's plenty of time for you to encourage her and help her to learn ways of managing to cope with people and her environment.

ilovetochat Fri 10-Jul-09 14:33:29

my dd is 2 and is very confident at home infront of people she knows very well but was very clingy at any toddler groups, literally she wouldnt loose my legs and it drove me mad, i plonked her in the middle once and shouted "just play" blush which was a terrible thing to do but i felt so frustrated.
now i accept she takes a while to warm to people, as i do really, i'm not the life and soul but prefer smaller groups.
i never say she is shy and if people say to her are you shy i always say "you're not shy are you dd, youre just watching/listening/just about to join in. i strongly disagree with labelling a child as i was labelled as shy and sometimes before i could speak someone would say oh she's shy and everyone would turn away.
dd flourishes at activity groups where there is soemthing to do, then she slowly interacts while doing the activity. wheras at unstructured toddler groups where lots of people arrive in groups she wanders around lost or clings to me.
dd used to stop dead if another child came up the slide behind her but instead of taking her off i told her to show the other child how she could climb up/slide down and encouraged her to watch the other child and say how good at climbing they were too and now she ends up racing after them.

CrushWithEyeliner Fri 10-Jul-09 17:57:25

Thank you for your thoughts. I still feel at a loss about how I deal with these situations with her, and feel like I have not been a very good Mum and have let her down in this instance but I have to move forward.
I have read the sensitive child but felt that it didn't really give much practical help on a pre-schooler; it felt like, yes that's my daughter but how do I actually manage this? I will try the other book mentioned.

I have now banned the word shy, she sometimes even says " I am feeling a bit shy" so she has indeed picked it up from what has been said around her. How bloody stupid am I?

I will now respond with "no you are just listening aren't you?" and will never force her to do anything again. Should I have a word with her pre-school do you think?

AllWindy Fri 10-Jul-09 18:35:23

A few things you said about your dd remind me of my dd1, although I think not exactly for the same reasons.

I don't have any great advice, but I would just say relax about it as much as you can. I am sooooo much more relaxed with my 2 other dc than I was with dd1 - I suppose it's confidence in my own parenting skills but I wish I could have been like that with her.

The only other thing that comes to mind is that you can't control your children's behaviour, only your reaction to it.

OrangeFish Fri 10-Jul-09 18:59:38

First, she is only 2.5 so be patient, second, I have only read the first post, so please ignore me if somebody has already mentioned this.

What I have found with DS was that saying he was shy only serves two purposes, to excuse yourself and to reassure the child that because s/he is shy she "is not" able to do as other children do. I really battled with this one, and didn't see much difference when I stopped, but the moment someone said he was shy again, we were always back to square one.

Also, acknowledge her fears, but don't let her use them as a excuse. Saying things like "I know you are afraid, but I know you can do it" in a confident cheerful voice are more helpful than retreating and let the fears win.

She might be very sensitive (mine was), but that doesn't mean that her life should be ruled by her senses. If she is afraid of noises, disturbed by smells, etc. Please keep in mind that what we like or no are very often things that we have been "educated" to like (ie. nobody will eat pepper because is nice, but starting little by little we learn to appreciate it and control how much of it we can take, and eventually the tolerance levels raise). Try to provide plenty of opportunities for her to familiarise herself with new things and situations.

Hope that helps

piscesmoon Fri 10-Jul-09 19:16:36

Don't worry! Just relax, she is only a baby really. She will do it in her own time.

treedelivery Fri 10-Jul-09 19:24:47

2 book shelped me - The Highly Sensitive Child, helped me see things from dd's point of view. Also Raising Happy Children - helped me see things from everyones point of view.

The Highly Sensitive child will help you when you have these feelings of fragility and not knowing how to help them. Well, it had that use for me anyway. Good luck, and try to worry less. They are all so so so unique. Big [non mnet] hugs though - I know it is worrying and odd having the one who won't do the 'standard' stuff. Been there have tshirt smile Still there infact........

acebaby Fri 10-Jul-09 19:49:50

Your DD sounds lovely. She is bound to get into scrapes from time to time, and this may upset her more than other children. For the future, perhaps don't tell her off when she does something daft. She may respond better to a gentle but serious talk about the dangers of what she has done, along with explaining firm rules as to how she can avoid this happening again (eg we never never ever walk in front of swings). You may be surprised at how effective this approach is with such a sensitive and articulate little girl! DS1 (4 next week) isn't particularly shy or sensitive, but can be a right pain quite volatile and has always been very articulate and a "deep thinker", and I have found that this works very well with him.

As for the pre-school thing. She will grow up a lot over the next year, and good pre-schools can be gentle and caring places. However, don't be afraid to keep her at home until she is 4 or even older if you don't feel she is ready. I think there is too much of a push to get very young children out of the home and into institutional settings before they are ready.

hazeyjane Fri 10-Jul-09 19:53:48

I am putting this thread on watch, to read and post later.

My dd1 sounds so similar (she is now 3.4) and she is starting pre school in September!

yogabird Fri 10-Jul-09 20:06:58

I know that she is young but do you think that a star/sticker chart might work? My dd1 wouldn't speak to people and it was becoming embarrassing as she got older when she just stared and smiled. She is articulate and able but it grew from 'shyness' and became a habit. We have recently drawn up a chart and every time she speaks to anyone, she gets a tick. At the end of the line there is a treat. She is now beginning to seek out speaking opportunities and I think it will work well for her. Perhaps you would need to have it with you, for immediacy and to show her as she 'stuck at' something she found challenging. Perhaps she is a little young but it may be worth a try.
I would reinforce what others on here have hinted at, do be gentle on yourself. Keep on loving and supporting her and be confident because you are the best mother she could wish to have - you are just right for her smile

CrushWithEyeliner Fri 10-Jul-09 20:12:41

thank you everyone and Yogabird your last comment in particular means a lot to me x

Fizzylemonade Fri 10-Jul-09 20:30:56

Will give rushed message as need to put my little one to bed.

Ds1 was exactly like your little girl, and with boys it is seen as worse because boys are meant to be outgoing and gungho hmm

Bought The Highly Sensitive Child which is fantastic and gets you to see things from their point of view. It also deals with the highly sensitive parent (me, so I know exactly how my son feels and yet I didn't know how to deal with it) and the non-highly sensitive parent.

Ds1 is now 6, we attended a school open evening last week to say thank you to his yr1 teacher and to meet his new teacher. He hung his head when his teacher spoke to him, this is the same teacher who he sees every week day!!!

He is still shy especially in new situations, hates any group discussions that force him to give an answer or read outloud despite being more than capable.

There are phrases in the book to use as a response when people so that look when you explain that your child is "shy" or just watching/thinking etc

Back to look at this later.

jabberwocky Fri 10-Jul-09 20:36:55

You have my sympathies as ds1 is very similar. The Highly Sensitive child is a wonderful book and I see has already been recommended. Another good one is "Raising Your Spirited Child".

KERALA1 Fri 10-Jul-09 20:41:12

My sister was a deeply shy child to the extent my parents were very worried. She now has a prestigious job in the arts in London, manages a huge team of people and has the best social skills of anyone I know.

moomaa Fri 10-Jul-09 20:47:11

Ok, this might be rubbish but I've noticed quite a few 2 year olds that are advanced at talking/thinking things through but not so good at social stuff with kids their own age, I wonder if they have been focussing on one set of skills, leaving the social skills to later. Like how early walkers can be late talkers and vice versa? She is still so little.

I would say keep taking her to the park and any other activities and make sure you give her plenty of opportunities where you step back and leave her to it?

I wouldn't say anything to preschool, they have seen plenty of kids and it is good for them to form their own opinion, you never know, they might tell you how well she gets on with others!!

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