Thursday, August 23, 2012
"Shyness is a personality trait, not a fault" Dr. Sears
This was Madeline on her first day of preschool - a little nervous, but curious about what it might be like. Well, we haven't seen this smile since. She goes to bed sobbing because she doesn't want to go and wakes up sad saying, "I don't think I can do this" over and over. I'm trying to be positive and assume with time it will get better. But it breaks my heart and I've shed many tears over it. Madeline is very reserved and quiet. She has been since she was a tiny baby. She much preferred sitting on the sidelines just watching and observing. She struggles being herself in a large group. She's most comfortable playing with one or two other kids, and even then she's slow to warm up.
This morning, after loving her through her morning, we were walking down the school's halls to her classroom, when we saw a little girl turn around and say loudly, "That's the little girl who won't talk to anyone." My reaction was a smile and to keep walking, pulling Madeline quickly behind me, but I really had to hold back the tears. And then when we got into the classroom, Madeline was already in tears. I helped her get settled, but she was obviously struggling. The main teacher said, "Another rough morning?" Somehow that hit me the wrong way - probably I was already in a sensitive mood. I just said, "She'll need some time and patience to get used to a big group, classroom setting." The teacher said, "So she hasn't ever had anything formal like this?" I said, "no, no daycare." She said, "Kindergarten is going to be challenging..." Again, a little offended, although I believe she didn't mean any. "Well, that's why we're doing preschool this year to help her prepare." As I turned to leave, a mom said to me, "Don't feel bad. My daughter was the same way." I was touched by her kindness, but on the other hand, I'm really tired of people thinking being "shy" is some kind of problem. I have even had to catch myself as I think I need to "fix" Madeline to make her be like the other kids. Saying, "she's just shy," especially around her, may make her think something is wrong with her - when that couldn't be any more false.
Some of the best people I know are more reserved. Some may view this personality as weak, but they have a lot to offer. They are very kind and thoughtful. They aren't the center of attention and don't push their opinions on others. They make very good listeners, are cautious, are smart and strong, and they are loyal friends. I really don't know how to handle this situation - any advice would be great. Maybe it's the mother bear in me, but I'm feeling committed to standing up for her. She has a lot to offer if people will give her a chance. She has many strengths. I hope I can help her feel comfortable at school, so she can express her personality, even if it's different than some of the others.
This parenting thing is not easy and my kids are so young! I can't even think about down the road... I hope I can help them be happy and confident, no matter their personality.