I have noticed something about myself lately that I am not so proud of. I have been guilty of this for years with all of my children. It is something I am determined to change … I will no longer apologize for my child being shy. I am not sorry that they do not want to hold a conversation with you, strange man in the grocery. I will also not apologize to the child who is in my child’s face screaming for them to go play. My children are quiet by nature, as am I. They need to feel people out and watch how they interact before jumping in. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, and other times days. Why is it that society portrays being shy as a bad thing?
It has been this way since they were babies. My first baby didn’t want anyone but family. Loud parties were never a hit. We were a small family at the time, and no one understood why my child didn’t want to be around the other twenty loud screaming children. My babies needed calmness and quiet. They just don’t thrive in a chaotic atmosphere. And I always apologized. Like it was her fault! As I am now older and wiser, I kick my younger and naive self.
Why do we apologize for the nature of our children? We teach them to be themselves. But if they are quiet, shy beings, we are told to help them “come out of their shell.”
When I was in elementary and high school, I distinctly remember being called out numerous times because I was so quiet. It was not often by fellow classmates, it was by adults and teachers. The people I looked up to were the ones telling me that something was wrong because I was so quiet in class. I will never forget a day in high school when our principal pointed straight at me in religion class and told me it was weird that I was so quiet. I know she meant no harm in this statement, but for a quiet, shy teenager, it was mortifying.
As a mother with introverted and extroverted children, I vow to be different. I have embraced my children’s differences. I have accepted that one of my daughters is quieter than other and will never be the star of the show. But she shines in my own eyes. She shines in her friend’s eyes. She doesn’t want to be the center of attention. She is happy in her small group of friends and even thriving.
I have noticed a major shift since I have stopped apologizing for their shyness. I no longer make excuses for why they don’t talk much. I have embraced my daughter and her quiet nature. She may “come out of her shell,” but it will be on her own time. I no longer feel bad and apologize when they don’t talk to strangers. I only ask my children to be polite, nothing more. They do not need to hold a conversation with a stranger or give them a hug. They know that they only have to say what they are comfortable with. I refuse to force my child to make uncomfortable small talk. They will learn this skill in their own time, as did I.
This is great! I often feel guilty for saying “She’s shy” to someone about why my daughter won’t say “Hi” – she’s 3. I feel bad… what should I do in those instances? What do I say to an adult who is trying to talk to my child who isn’t responding? Any suggestions?