At WPA What Parents Ask we receive a lot of questions from parents. I am sharing the answer to one of the questions here while keeping the parent asking the question anonymous because this is a common question and I think the answer will help many parents.
The question is –
My Shy And Clingy Child Refuses To Participate In School
My daughter is always been shy and clingy. She likes to mingle and play but she takes way too long to socialize. I am okay with that. Everyone is different. But now she has started school she doesn’t want to participate in any school activities and that is bothering me a little. The other day she had singing practice at school and the teacher asked for solo singing and my daughter refused to sing in spite of the fact that she loves singing. Then I had to meet her teacher separately and requested her to take her to the choir group.
I don’t want to make her into something that she is not. Meanwhile I don’t want her to get into a cocoon and shun the world. Is there anything I should do to make my child more open for socializing and meeting people.
My answer –
There is nothing wrong with being shy. In fact there are several advantages.
Very often children who are too outgoing are under the spotlight all the time and under so much scrutiny – that they are unable to polish their skills. Also they are under tremendous pressure to succeed or perform all the time which is not useful because it makes them unused to and afraid of failure
So – let your child be shy. She is watching and learning. She is silently polishing her skills before she steps into the spotlight. She will perform when she thinks she is good enough.
Also it is not necessary to demonstrate and publicize what you know all the time. Of course showing everyone what you know may win you accolades and praise but not everyone may be comfortable under the glare of praise.
As far as clinginess and not socializing is concerned – socializing is a skill that requires a lot of courage. It is frightening to walk up to a group of unknown people and speak to them. But it is a fear that your child can lose if you lead the way for her.
How can you lead the way?
Walk up to strangers and talk to them yourself. It will take you a lot of courage to face the possibility of rejection yourself. But once you have done it several times in your daughter’s presence and she has seen that it is safe to do that – you will find her moving out and talking to people too.
And when she comes back intermittently to cling to you. Allow her to cling. Pushing her away when she is feeling clingy will only make her clingier. Let her gather the solace and courage she needs from you by clinging to you. When she has had her fill she will go back to her peers.
Be patient and empathetic.
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