My daughter started a new school this week. One day, when I came from work, I asked her casually about her day. She replied ‘Mommy, I am shy.’
My daughter is a child who takes a while to ‘warm up’ to people and situations. That is just how she is.
She does not respond immediately to a greeting nor does she proactively greet new people. I researched this behaviour. Oh, and by research, I mean I GOOGLED THE CRAP out of this topic (as parents do!)
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I discovered that little kids are not necessarily shy, sometimes they just need more time to warm up. That is okay. When I walk into a room, I do not want to talk to everyone immediately either. Even if she is introverted, that is fine, but I don’t want to her to carry the ‘shy’ label at this tender age.Labels have power. Here is why I do not want my daughter to be referred to as 'shy'. Click To Tweet
Don’t Call My Daughter Shy (or any other kid for that matter)
The world favours the child who is openly boisterous and talkative. Not the child who needs time to warm up before she shows her personality. My daughter is smart, witty, helpful and has a crazy weird laugh! But she will not show that side to anyone immediately.
Labels have power
The fact that my daughter takes long to ‘warm up’ is okay. I know her. She is funny, smart, talkative, has developed friendships, and is a feisty one. She actively seeks out social settings where she can play with others.
What is not okay is her adopting a label of ‘I am shy.’
When she told me, she is shy I mentioned she must take her own time. I also told her what I always tell her when I don’t know what to say ‘You are Strong and Smart.’ When I am in these ‘teachable parenting’ moments, I never know what the hell to say, so I always remind her that she is ‘strong and smart’.If she must carry any label, let it be that she is strong and smart (which she is). Click To Tweet
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Not shy, but thoughtful or slow to warm up
So when we enter new environments, and the moment comes when she doesn’t greet or respond when asked her name, I let it go. I casually say to the other person, ‘she just takes a while to warm up; or ‘she likes to observe her environment first.’ Pressuring her and covering up by saying she is shy, will not help my child.
While we are on the topic, I also do not make her hug or kiss anyone if she does not want to (it is her body). You will get a high-five at best.
I do chat with her alone about greeting and that it is a nice and friendly thing to do, but I do not make a scene about it. At her previous (play) school, she settled in well although it took a while.
However, now that she is at a new school, she will need a little time to warm up again. You know what, she is four. It’s fine. Calm down.
I stopped telling people she is ‘shy’ two years ago but it still gets used by others. I prefer to say ‘she is thoughtful; she takes a while to warm up; she likes to observe first.’ Which is the truth! I prefer to look at it in the positive.
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Give them the right label to live up to
Next time a little kid does not want to greet and anyone says they are shy, don’t leave the ‘shy’ label hanging over their heads. Keep it casual but don’t let it slide if someone says they are shy, say they ‘take some time to warm up’ or something along those lines.
Do not apologise for who they are, it makes them feel small.
The shy label may keep a child from trying new things, or from reaching out to connect with someone. Labels have power!
Here are 10 Reasons Why You Should Not Call your Kids Shy from an article that appeared in the Huffington Post.
‘Mommy, I am shy.’
I don’t want this to be her internal voice.
That is why I tell her, ‘you are smart, pretty and strong’. That is a better internal voice.
Can you relate to this? Do you have a ‘slow to warm up’ child? Or were you an ‘introverted child’?