When my older daughter, Buggy, was first born and up until about age 2 1/2 she was the most social little girl you had ever seen. We actually had say, “Honey you don’t need to wave and say Hi to EVERYONE”. We just didn’t want her bothering people. She really has one of the most empathic and sweet personalities you’ll ever meet. If you look even the slightly bit distressed she wants to find out why and make it better.
Around age 3 she started to get a shy streak in her. I am not sure what changed. I know this personality change is not uncommon for kids. They often grow out of it. She is taking a little bit longer than some. She not only became shy but somewhat fearful of situations claiming that she did not want to participate because she is scared.
When our younger daughter came into the world, Buggy’s shyness seemed to get a little better. She loves talking about her little sister and how cool she is. She tells people her sisters name and is fully willing to give all kinds of details about baby sister but the second they ask about her she just says, “I’m her big sister” and shuts down.
It became a goal to see if we could break her out of her shell a little bit. I did not want to make her uncomfortable to the point she no longer trusted me but just a tad more adventurous.
When people would start asking questions I made sure to rub her back. Letting her know I was there and it was okay to answer. I knew keeping the “stranger danger” aspect was important but not to the point of anti-social. I started prompting answers and making sure she responded even a one word answer.
We sat down and had a talk about the difference between friendly strangers, when mommy is there, and non-friendly, when mommy is not there. She got it.
Then we took to the playground. The situation was that anytime a kid would come over and ask her to play she would say no. She was too shy. Then she would stare and watch the other kids play and get sad and want to leave. I would start playing with her which gave her a little more courage. Eventually the kids would come play with both of us. Once she got comfortable with her new friend I would sneak away. She always ended up so happy.
When playtime was over I always made a point to give her big hugs. I would tell her how proud of her I was for playing with new friends. She beamed with pride.
There is one point I have left out of this story on purpose. It is not something every parent might be comfortable with or like the idea of but it worked well for our girl. The playground was the worst. I died a little bit inside every time Buggy said “No” to playing with a child. I knew we needed to find an icebreaker.
In school for the first 100 days of school the kids had a project, to make a cape with 100 of something on it. Buggy LOVES to dress up. It is not uncommon to find her in a Disney princess dress or fun hat. She has also been getting more into superhero’s. Daddy is a big superhero fan and when we saw Wonder Woman was coming out she was all about the idea of a girl superhero.
I decided to make her cape for school one I knew she would want to wear more often. Here is how I made it:
Make a kick butt cape for your little Superhero!
Cape (handmade or store bought) I went with store bought because I knew she was LOVING Wonder Woman
PomPoms – All colors and sizes
Place a board (cardboard) under the cape.
Place pompoms on the cape and make a cool design.
Allow your child to have a say. Let them make changes if they want.
Glue all pompoms to the cape
Let dry overnight
Put it around their neck and watch them fly! (Not really fly just be super happy)
We started wearing the cape to the playground. INSTANT icebreaker. Every little kid loved it, especially the girls. They all wanted to know where she got it. She had to answer. She loved being able to say her mommy made it. I love that I was able to give her some extra courage.
One more bonus of the cape, it encourages her to want to help others. We have been pushing community service on our girls from the beginning. This is something we like to do in our family. It is important to help those less fortunate than you. It is also important to help your community by cleaning up streets, making playgrounds beautiful, and keeping your neighborhood litter free.
She loves wearing the cape when doing any of these activities. It makes it fun. Even if she takes it off after 5 minutes, the superhero in her come out swinging.
When the shy phase hits don’t be afraid to let your little one be a little goofy. Sometimes just wearing a pair of sunglasses, holding a special doll, or wearing a cape will make all the difference.
Kristin, The Perfectionist Mom
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