We were at Spar one of those lazy Saturdays when my super cute daughter (I’m not trying to toot my horn or anything but she is really cute) was clinging on to my legs a little too tightly. After regaining my balance, I looked down to see what it was that made my one-year old almost make me break a jar of honey I was still contemplating on buying; but as I looked at her she was peeking from behind my “I-can’t-come-and-kill- myself” skirt at a hunk who had stooped down to say hello. I forgot to add that my little one is shy unlike her twin brother who literally was a socialite since he discovered the ability to smile. I started to apologize to the stranger but my husband was there at the right time and so after he greeted the stranger and I had told him about what had happened we all laughed and moved on but my daughter never left my side. It was okay, right? I mean children were always shy at that age but at age six Simi, my daughter, had no friends and wouldn’t speak to anyone even if they spoke to her, she didn’t like answering questions in class and would prefer to hang around me at parties than go and play with children her age. If I made her go, she will be so anxious and was sure to shrink into herself and hang somewhere no one would notice her. I think being an egghead didn’t make it easier. I started worrying, or was it the people from her father’s village? I knew she wanted to make friends but it was really hard on her. To make things worse, her brother got invited to birthday parties and sleepovers a lot of times. Simi just tagged along because I made her after asking from the parent if it was okay. Her father felt she will outgrow it but I was concerned, so here are the things I did.
1. I found out if she was excluded or victimized at school. Thankfully, no one did. They just thought she wanted to be left alone.
2. I stopped comparing her to her brother or any other child for that matter and encouraged her Dad too to follow in said step.
3. We would do dress up and practice standing up and answering questions in class or talking to someone. We even had “ice breakers” or “conversation starters”.
4. I let her know I was confident in her ability to socially interact.
5. I threw a small summer party at our home and invited all her classmates. It helped because apparently, Simi is more comfortable talking to people in her comfort zone and one of those zones was her home.
6. I rewarded her, often and unexpectedly when she tried to move out of her shell even if it was just saying hello to a child her age who had greeted her.
7. She also joined a dance class, this one was a huge struggle but it had the biggest reward. Simi was not interested in sport any more than I was but she had dance moves. My goodness! Apparently, all the time she spent at home was in front of
the TV learning how to dance. She didn’t want to dance in front of anyone but whenever she started, she laughed more and forgot about being shy.
You have a part to play, just like I did. If you’ve tried all the above and nothing seems to work, then you either get professional help or hope your child outgrows it.