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My toddler is shy when with me - how can I help?

7 replies

redteapot · 30/09/2022 13:55

Hi all, I have one DD who is 2.5yo. She is loving, chatty, funny, intelligent, and in general I have no concerns about her development at all. She goes to nursery 3 days a week where she is happy and settled and apparently quite confident.
However, whenever I take her to toddler groups, etc. she never wants to leave my side. We have been going to the same (or at least similar) signing class for the last two years (granted some of it was online - thanks Covid!) and she seems to be less willing to be involved every week. Afterwards she proclaims to have loved it, before it she is excited, but while we are there she just wants to sit on my lap and hide. She will join in with some things but only if I am right there with her holding her hand.
The rational part of me thinks that this must be some sort of (very long!) phase, and I know that being shy is not a problem to be fixed, and she is very little still. But another part of me sees every other child there dancing around, joining in with the songs, going to sit on the blanket for storytime, etc. and I just wish that my DD would do the same.
I feel like I must be doing something wrong. In the back of my mind I am very aware that she was a March 2020 baby, she has no siblings or cousins, and we don't do lots of playdates, etc.
I guess I'm looking for some advice on how I can help her to feel more confident to join in with these things, should I start going to more groups, inviting people over for playdates, etc. or do I just let her be and see what happens?

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SleepingStandingUp · 30/09/2022 13:58

If she's fine at nursery, there's either something she can't verbalise throwing her off at group, or she actually just wants to be in your lap being touched by you because it's the best place to be.

I'd look at trying a different group, maybe something more free play (local church or library is good for this) where she doesn't have to do it all as the others are.

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redteapot · 30/09/2022 16:49

Thank you for reading and replying. Yes, that's a good idea - I think I automatically gravitate towards the more structured groups so trying a free play one might be just what we need. Thank you 😊

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DontBuyANewMumCashmere · 30/09/2022 16:58

I just want to say that some children are like this. My dd was incredibly shy and wouldn't even leave my side at kids' birthday parties until she was maybe 5?

She's still quite shy now, she's nearly 8, if we join a club or class (that *she wants to do!) she still takes five mins or so at the start, of watching, to get her comfy enough to join in with everyone else.

When we started school it became apparent that lots of other kids are like this. It used to worry and I would think oh no, it's because I never left her, was a sahm, or because I abandoned her at preschool when she was 3... But really I just think that's her personality.

I also remind myself it's quite a natural and healthy instinct to stay by something you know is safe and not bowl into unknown situations!
(Some kids are insanely bold but also have zero safety awareness.)

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newtolineofduty · 30/09/2022 23:59

My daughter (almost four) is just how you have described. She's not a lock down baby, we've always done loads of playgroups and play dates, and she's at nursery three days a week, but she's always been shy. She's confident when in her comfort zone (including nursery) but at groups and parties etc she tends to sit by me. She's getting slightly better with age and I'm just hoping that she is abit more confident before she starts school next year. Me and my partner are pretty outgoing so I'm not sure where she gets it from, I just think it's how she is. One thing I will say though is my daughter has picked up on me saying to people 'I'm sorry she's really shy'. The other day at a friends she said 'mummy I'm being good-I'm not being shy'. That made me realise I need to not think of being shy as 'bad'-I certainly don't want her thinking there's anything wrong with her xxx

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SunshineClouds1 · 01/10/2022 09:46

My child was like this, great at nursery but that's because I wasn't there.
Outside he needed some reassurance.

Over time I would say you play here mummy is just going to sit here for couple of minutes.
I would move away and go back to him to check on him and then go back to my seat.
I would gradually build this time up.

I also think it does get better with age.

Is there any play dates you can set up from nursery?

I also found soft play a great way to build his confidence.

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redteapot · 01/10/2022 20:13

Thank you all for your replies. It really helps to know others experience the same thing.
All great advice - I do try really hard to avoid telling her she is shy (and suggesting that is a bad thing) but I do slip up sometimes so I'll work on that.
I have arranged a playdate for next Thursday!
Great shout on the soft play too. We aren't regular visitors to soft play but we did go yesterday afternoon and she does get more confident throughout the session, and gets more confident each time that we go (she will now walk past other children playing without me holding her hand!).

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tulipsunday · 02/10/2022 19:29

My son has been exactly the same and is one month younger. We have been making an effort to do more social things - play dates parties etc. and he seems to be getting more confident/settling quicker so I would recommend keep doing these things but let your daughter know it is absolutely fine if she wants to opt out and sit with you. We also find free play groups work better than structured ones.

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