Is my child just shy or is something wrong?

@mimm45 (168)
Australia
October 18, 2011 5:38am CST
My son is shy. Whenever someone (adult) speaks to him, he hides behind me and doesn't respond to the person. A lot of other children may also be like this but I'm afraid there might be something wrong with him. It took two terms before he was quite comfortable with his kinder teachers. Only then did he start to interact with them. I've been giving him haircuts as I know that he won't let anyone cut his hair. Then I enrolled him in swimming lessons. It's something that I never learned but would like him to. The first term was very difficult. He'd cry during the 30 minute lesson. And it's not just crying but screaming all through out asking his mummy to come and get him. It took 8 out of 10 lessons before he started getting a bit comfortable with the teacher. The problem is that they always had somebody else with the teacher. He'd be ok for one lesson (with only the teacher present and only a little bit of crying) and in the next lesson he'd by screaming again and won't want to go in the pool (when there is somebody else with the teacher). He dreads the day when he has to go to the pool and tells me he doesn't want to go swimming even during a 2-week break. He's not scared of the water and is even looking forward to going to the beach for holidays. He just is scared of meeting new faces. After the first term, I didn't want to enrol him for the next one unless I was sure that they'd have the same teacher. They said yes but on the first day we had a different one. I thought never mind, we'll see what happens. Well, he was crying for 20 mins of the whole lesson. It was the same thing over again. I still persisted and we went to the second lesson. It so happens the teacher was not there and they had a substitute. I couldn't even get him to go near the pool. I had to cancel the rest of the lessons for the term. What is going on with him?
1 person likes this
9 responses
• Southend-On-Sea, England
18 Oct 11
Is it at all possible that your son may be suffering from mild autism, or alternatively, could perhaps an adult outside of your family scared him in some way such that it's made him feel extremely nervous of meeting other adults? He sounds like a very sensitive little boy but unless I'm wrong, and of course I could be, it does sound as though there is some underlying reason for his problem that a child psychologist may be able to get to the root of and help him overcome it?
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@maximax8 (29138)
• United Kingdom
20 Oct 11
I am a primary school teacher and a parent of three children. I think that your son has severe shyness. My sister has four children. Her younger son is an elective mute. He is not able to talk at all. He only talks to people he knows very well. Like he doesn't talk to a teacher until nearly the end of term. He is very shy indeed. He is aged 11 and is now at secondary school. My sisters younger daughter is 5 years old and she is at primary school. She didn't want to join in with physical education at the beginning of the school term. Her teacher said for her to get dressed in her PE clothes. She sat by the side looking really shy and sad. One day when she gained more confidence she joined in. I believe she is rather shy. My sister is also a shy person and I am far more outgoing than her. Your son benefits from one to one work with a teacher. If any other children are there he seems to feel very shy and then cries. I think that you should try to get an assessment for your son in order to help him. Good luck. My disabled son has a few problems due to his disability. He is in a wheelchair. He sometimes doesn't answer someone speaking to him.
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@mimm45 (168)
• Australia
22 Oct 11
Thanks for your response. I think he is shy as you say. We've tried to encourage him in everything he does. I'm hoping that things change. I'm sorry for your son. It made me think that I shouldn't complain too much. I hope you're ok and coping. (Please don't misunderstand. I might not have expressed this part well but I only have good intentions.)
• India
19 Oct 11
Hello. It is not clear how old this boy/son is. If I can distinguish the behavior from what you describe here, the boy is not shy but has developed inhibitions. Kids who are shy don't avoid exposure but just that they hold back from responding. Either they don't venture out themselves or remain reserved when prompted. I know this because right from childhood until pat adolescent age, I used to be quite reserved & shy but I was never cross or violently evasive. In this case, the boy seems to be having strong inhibitions. Depending upon his age, I would assume, this is a result of some previous incidence, he has had some profound impact on his psyche and he wants to make sure he keeps himself away. And if forced repeatedly, he resists it. The solution perhaps lies in taking some time and giving the boy a little 'space'. Stop getting over anxious and pushing him into multiple things because of your excessive anxiety. It is understandable that every parent feels about their ward's behavior and wants to 'do' as much as possible, and as fast as possible so that he doesn't grow with this behavior and cause embarrassment to himself & the parent. Instead, try not to think too much about external influences and stick with the boy alone for some time. Take long sessions of interaction with the boy & talk it out. Rather than preaching how he should be and what he should do or scaring him about negative effects from what he may or may not be doing, listen. Let him talk more. Make him feel comfortable. You reassure him while trying to understand his anxieties. Let him get a feeling that he can overcome his inhibitions in a positive way with your support. This might help. The way to ensure a sapling grows a natural tree is to provide nourishment, watering regularly, protection and regular observation. Simply force dragging it out of anxiety doesn't make it grow into a big tree faster. I hope I'm not misunderstood!
@mimm45 (168)
• Australia
22 Oct 11
My son is 3 years and 8 months. I can't recall any incident that might have caused him to become like this. He does shy away from meeting new people and hiding when some adult says hello. It takes time for him to warm up to a new person. I'm thinking that the combination of a new face and swimming lessons might have been too daunting for him otherwise he's alright. He only does the screaming during swimming lessons. I've stopped the lessons for now until he's a bit more comfortable with adults. I do remember that I avoided meeting teachers in the hallway when I was in school so he could be like that too.
@Swaana (1208)
• India
18 Oct 11
Yes, its definitely a question of concern. I have faced similar thing with my daughter. She is a very bright kid, she will do all show offs to me, dad, grandparents and all those who she knows, when it comes to crowd or when she comes to do any stage performances (she would have done so well in front of her teacher and the head teacher and also her class), she will not even go near the stage or the judge and also will throw up all tantrums. I decided to put a stop to this and sat and had a talk with her (she was just 3.5 when I did this). No doctor, no teacher no one only me and her. The first thing I heard from her was the shock of my life, mom what if I fail? That means, fail to impress the strangers out there, fail to impress the others who I dont know, fail to keep up to your expectations!!!! When I explained that participation is more important than impressing others or keeping up my expectations, she felt quite OK with it, but still it took her almost another 2 years to come out of it fully. Now she is 10 and she is the most active kid in the school with all sorts of leadership qualities, and what not. Regarded as one of the best students, loved and adored by all, not just teachers and fellow classmates but even by outsiders who sees her for the first time. She have now chosen what she wants to learn and what she wants to be in her future and works hard to be so. Why I am sharing you this is, I think you need to sit and talk with him and till he reveals you all that he can, donot enrol him in any class or donot force him to go to any class that you had wanted. If he is unable to open up to you, then let his dad do it and you will definitely be surprised to know a lot of things by that one to one talk.
@mimm45 (168)
• Australia
22 Oct 11
My son is quite a performer. He's an entertainer - singing, dancing. He even puts on acts. He likes being the center of attention. He only does this with people he knows. He's quite well behaved when we're out and about with friends. They say he's a very good kid. I might try talking as you suggested.
@charvill (58)
19 Oct 11
How old/young is he? Have you tried communicating with your child? Have you tried to ask him why he's acting like that? Maybe there's a lack of communication between the child and the parents, maybe, that's the ways he really is when hes born, etc. If you've already tried every possible things to change the attitude of your son and still did not work,perhaps you should ask for a psychiatric help. Don't get me wrong, they will surely help with regards to this kind of attitude.
@bingskee (5237)
• Philippines
18 Oct 11
i think there is nothing wrong. some children just do not feel comfortable with strangers. he must not be forced, he should be taught. it is not fair that he will be subjected to harsh treatment. conversations between you and your son can be an effective tool. if you want specifics that might help, you can choose to go to a pediatrician or a child psychologist.
@mimm45 (168)
• Australia
18 Oct 11
Yes, i agree. I don't force him to interact with strangers.
@AmbiePam (50953)
• United States
18 Oct 11
Have you thought about having him see a child psychologist? Not on a regular basis, just to see if she/he can detect specific issues. He sounds almost as shy as I was when I was that age. It was not until much later I learned I was "mildly" bipolar. I was on the depressive side. I'm not suggesting that is what your son has or that he would need medication. I wouldn't think medication would be a solutionat his young age. But you are right to be concerned. It took me way too long to adjust to other people and to work on my shyness. You're a good mother.
@mimm45 (168)
• Australia
18 Oct 11
Thanks for the comment. I read up on bipolar disorder and somehow I don't think that's what he is. He likes to sing and dance and talks a lot. He loves to show off to grandparents or other people he knows and will talk their ear off. He does easily get frustrated and will cry if his toy is not working properly but I don't think he's bipolar (at least from what they described it to be). When we went to see the health nurse for his 3 1/2 yr old check up i mentioned this to her and she said I shouldn't be concerned as he's just extremely shy/introverted. She said it could be hereditary (I was also shy growing up and even now). I think she meant that he's not autistic as he did speak to her and looked at her when talking and was singing songs during the check up. I am thinking of going to see the paediatrician though, to see if he thinks something is wrong. It's just so painful to see him like this.
@tamirs (1808)
• Philippines
19 Oct 11
I think he is a loner type of kid or a shy type..traits like that can be treated by getting him to playschool where he can meet kids at his age.Kids at young age tends to cry when left alone with strangers,that's a normal response from them because they use to see only faces of their family when they were younger.. also,you need to expose him outside and let him mingle with older people so he wont be so shy meeting and talking to others..you also need to talk to him and explain that he needs to meet other people other than your family..
@sexyice (874)
• Latvia
18 Oct 11
Ou, my little cousin do like your son. He is very shy too. My cousin mother ask doktor - it is normal? - and doctor say - yes. Because sometimes little child are shy and when he feel save, he opened other people. He just don't trust other and if he feel don't save he started crying. So don't worry, you just need wait, and all will be ok...