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Thread: Building your child's confidence?

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  1. #1

    Default Building your child's confidence?

    We still have 1.5 years until Jacob enters Kindergarten, so maybe this worrying is a bit premature, but I would still like everyone's opinions.

    Jacob has grown into a very shy little boy. He does not like being in big social situations unless one of us is with him, either Mommy, Daddy or his sister Natalie.

    He and Natalie are very close, almost like twins, although they are 11 months apart. Jacob has no memory of his life before Natalie was in the picture. Natalie is very outgoing and friendly, and I notice that Jacob relies on Natalie a lot of the time to be the ice-breaker in social situations (such as parties, playgrounds, daycare, etc.) It works fine I suppose, except that I worry for when Jacob has to go to kindergarten, because he and Natalie won't be in the same grade and he will have to learn how to function without her.

    There are a lot of activities that I think Jacob would really enjoy. There is a summer camp called "Camp Little Engineers" in our area for 4-5 year olds, it's a half day camp every day for one week where you drop the kids off and pick them up a few hours later. I know he would love the kinds of things they do, they focus on building things and circuitry and how electricity works, etc. He would love it. But when I explained to him what the camp would be like (Mommy, Daddy and Natalie wouldn't be going with you) he instantly said he didn't want to do it, and he doesn't care what kinds of activities there are - unless one of the three of us is going to stay with him, he doesn't want to do it.

    It also is an issue at times at home because Natalie is much more independent minded and prefers to play alone sometimes, and Jacob will literally never leave her alone to be by herself. He hates to be alone and doesn't want her to ever do anything on her own without him. It is the cause of many fights between them. I usually have to give Jacob something to do with me or with H to keep him occupied so that she can have some space.

    My goal with getting him involved in some kind of activity was three-fold. I think he needs help cultivating his attention span and discipline to be able to sit in a classroom when he gets to school and focus on the teacher. Kindergarten in our area is a full-day program with no half-day options and to me that is pretty intimidating. I know he has 1.5 years before he will get there so I am hoping we will see some major leaps in his maturity during that time, but I still feel like HE would be more comfortable in the long run if we prepared him first because that is how his personality is, he likes to be prepared and know how things are going to go, and dislikes surprises or unknown situations.

    I think he would genuinely enjoy some of the activities that are around and available to him and I would like to see him make some friends outside of the family and outside of Natalie, so that they can begin cultivating their own lives as individuals (mostly him, so that she can have a bit of a break...she asks me sometimes if she can do things without him).

    Also, I want to see him build up his confidence and not be so fearful of new situations or so painfully shy and worried about being on his own.

    H and I both work full time and he goes to daycare while we work. We have not done preschool for him because 1) we couldn't justify the cost and 2) haven't found a program that I actually liked and 3) I honestly worried he'd be bored by the material because he is well ahead of the game in terms of academics like math, reading, writing, etc. Daycare is at MIL's house, she is a licensed in-home provider and has other kids in addition to Jacob and Natalie, so they do get socialization there...but again, Natalie is there with him so he still leans on her a lot.

    What do you all think? I don't know what the right thing to do is. Do I try to convince him to enroll in some kind of activity (and force him to go even if he says he doesn't want to)? We talk with him frequently about his fears and his worries and it doesn't seem to really help or change his mind. I know he's too little to understand that sometimes we all do things that are scary to us at first but later we enjoy them.

    H and I are huge softies when it comes to this sort of thing. We were both very shy as kids and remember how scary it was to go to school, but neither of us had siblings close in age so we were used to being alone and doing things on our own at the same time. I just want to do whatever I can to make him the most comfortable when that day comes.

    Please excuse any typos - most of the time I am posting from my phone!

  2. #2

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    Tae Kwon Do. I can't say enough for how awesome it is for kids this age. My oldest has never had issues with shyness but there is a little boy in his TKD class that was apparently very very shy before he started. His mother said just 6 months of TKD has helped him come out of his shell in a major way and now he's a totally different kid. The good thing about the TKD classes that DS attends is that the parents have chairs we sit in and watch outside the main training / practice area. The kids know we are there but we are separated by about 20 feet or so. I think that may be a good option for your DS because it would give him the chance to do something "independent" while you are still near by. It's also really good for helping cultivate that focus and attention span he'll need for school.
    Last edited by Dreya; 04-03-2013 at 10:22 AM.
    Megan (29) and Jayson (31) Happily married 9 years



  3. #3
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    This is exactly the sort of thing I was going to suggest. DD is enrolled in a martial arts class, that starts next week. And next month, she'll start her first swimming class where I won't be participating. I'm hoping that the martial arts class will get her used to participating without me righttherenexttoher, and that will help with the swimming class. In both cases, I'll be around, so it is a transition. There are lots of cool camps and such here, but I know she'll have trouble adjusting (she will eventually, but by the time she does, it will likely be over), so I'm trying this as a bridge.

  4. #4

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    I have some similar issues as you do with your son. My friend found a Karate class nearby where the instructor is really good with kids. We may try that next year. Or, we may sign him up for semi-private music classes at the place where we already go for family classes. We think the familiarity of the place might help.

  5. #5
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    I don't have any experience with martial arts, but when DD1 was 3-4 she was very, very clingy. I wouldn't say shy exactly, but she didn't want to participate in many social situations, even with kids she had known since she was a toddler (our playgroup). She has since grown out of this, but at the time I was concerned. Her preschool teacher suggested enrolling her in an activity that she showed interest in...possibly with a friend from school if possible. We ended up signing her up for ballet thru the park district (a much cheaper option than a school since I had no idea if she'd even go in!) and she ended up really loving it. So the teacher's advice was pretty solid, at least in our case.

    ~ Cassie, mama to Madison (8), Ali (4) & Wesley (new dude!)


  6. #6
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    I haven't had a chance to read this yet myself but I did purchase for the library and it looks really good when I was skimming it. http://www.amazon.com/Building-Resil...dren+and+teens

    Jennifer, 35, DH 36

  7. #7

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    I would research activities that are available on the weekend (I assume you work during the week) where he can go and you or dh sit with him/in the background, etc. This way he will be exposed to new things, make new friends, but will stay have the reassurance of either you or your dh.


  8. #8
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    I was painfully shy as a kid and one thing I've been confident in was swimming. I know that might sound sort of odd but, I'd have the kids do swimming lessons and the YMCA if you have one would offer classes that are more affordable and at least where I live you can apply for financial aide on any of their programs.



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