Posts Tagged ‘ toddler participation ’

Is My Toddler Anxious? Shy? Or Is This Normal?

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I don’t get it. When Fia is at home she is the most outgoing, funny, confident 3 1/2 year old. When we have her best friend Teddy over, she is just as gregarious. One on one or with just a few of her friends, she is great. But when I take her to her preschool, she gets clingy and doesn’t want to participate. Yet, the hour leading up to preschool it’s all she can talk about. How excited she is, how she loves to nap at school, etc. And once she is there, I’m told she warms up. Though the teachers say it does take awhile and they have to push her a bit.

If it were just school, I’d think maybe the place wasn’t the right fit for her. But it’s also gymnastics. And with our cleaning ladies. And babysitter.

For example, every Wednesday Sheny and Lucy come to our house at 8 a.m. They are warm and loving. Yet it is a struggle to get Fia to say “Good Morning.” We started prepping her.

“When Sheny and Lucy come, what are you going to say?” we ask.

“Good Morning!” Fia declares with enthusiasm.

Then they walk in and nothing. She puts her head down and clings to our leg. It is somewhat maddening.

In gymnastics she’s gotten better at participating after we kept encouraging her–and a few times bribing her with the promise of a yogurt covered pretzel. But still, at “drinking fountain time,” 8 boys and girls run giddily across the room, laughing with one another. Fia walks. Now granted, she walks with a little sassy sway in her and I kinda dig that she doesn’t have to run with the pack, but I just wonder sometimes what is going on in her mind. I don’t want to project anxiety on her, and maybe she just goes to the beat of her own drum, but still…I am left puzzled.

With our sitter Michele, whom she loves, Fia greets her happily. But then she always comes to me and asks, “When is Michele leaving?” The exception is when Michele brings her twins, Maci and Cruz. Then it’s happy chaos all around. But If I am putting her down for her nap and the twins aren’t here, it’s the last question she asks before she goes to sleep and the first when she wakes up.

“Is Michele gone? Did you tell her to go home?”

I suppose part of this is wanting to know “the plan” and what is up. I can imagine in the world of a toddler, you have no control, so you crave it on any level.

We did have a breakthrough last Wednesday. We prepped and practiced for Sheny and Lucy to arrive. When they did she perked up and said louder than her usual whisper, “Good Morning!” Then she hugged them. When they left the room, Fia was beaming. I said, “How did that make you feel?” She nodded her little head, while bouncing up and down with pride. “Really good mama, really good.”

So I feel like we take a few steps forward, then suddenly will revert and go backwards again. Maybe this is just part of normal toddler development. Maybe she’s just a little shy, or it takes her longer to warm up to someone. I don’t think she likes chaos and I know at her preschool, when the whole pack is out playing and being wild, she tends to shy away. Two weeks ago I showed up and she was the only kid inside, quietly coloring. All the others were outside. On some level it hurt my heart. But again, if she’s not sad or anxious, then it doesn’t matter, and I shouldn’t feel sad right?

What do you guys think? Any insight or advice?

 

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Do You Believe In “Participation Awards” For Your Child?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

 

I got a lot of great insight from you guys in regards to my ballet class disaster (and a comment from Nancy who called the blog “absurd.” Ouch. I disagree, but she also made some good points so I won’t totally rant on her).

I’m happy to report that we went to the new class and it was oh-so-much better. Fia still didn’t want to let go of my hand, so in my ratty converse and yoga pants, I got to plie and spin with a bunch of little girls while their parents looked on–bored. We even brought Olivia the pig, since I told her it was an “Olivia approved class.” Yes, maybe I am taking this all a bit too far.

At the disaster class I wrote about how she stuck out like a sore thumb in her purple tutu. I said this time I was going to get her an outfit that was more in line with the others. She is wearing it above. It is adorable, and yes, more typical of a ballet outfit.

Nancy’s comment said: “Jill, you admitted to projecting your feelings on to your daughter. She feels bad because her outfit is a different color? She feels bad about herself when you leave? I do not think she felt any of that; she is too young for that much self-examination. And as soon as you get home you order her the perfect dance outfit? I have gone on enough. I guess you get my points.”

But then Julie made me feel a little better when she said: “There is nothing wrong with getting her daughter a new pretty outfit with a splash of originality. The reality is that from a VERY early age children who express originality are separated from the group and they CAN most certainly understand this is happening.” 

I think I agree with you both. Part of it is my projecting. But I don’t think it hurts for a semi-shy kid to initially fit in a little more while she finds her groove. Of course I had to laugh when we got to this new class. Half the girls were in pale pink. The other half? In aqua blue and bright orange tutu’s.  Maybe I just need to stick to my hip hood for classes since the disaster class was in a less hip area of the city.

About half way through Fia wanted to leave, but I told her we had to stay until the end. She continued to whine, but I just stayed the course.

“Fia, we don’t quit. We will leave when it’s over,” as I glanced at the clock, appalled to realize we still had 27 more minutes.

When it did finally end though, I praised her for staying through the whole class. For the next two days she talked about how much she loved it and how, “Mama, we stayed until the very end too!” I think I’ve decided if the class is good and the teacher doesn’t suck then we at least need to see it through to the end.

The great thing about this class is you don’t have to make a commitment. You can just drop in. So we’ll try it a few more times and if she isn’t into it, or too young, then we’ll stop.

But before I sign off, I want to pose another question that Julie brought up. She said:

“…While 3 is a bit young to worry about being a quitter for life, I do think it is absolutely right to question the decision to make sure you aren’t simply removing all challenges from your child’s life. Because even at 3 a child can learn that complaining means they don’t have to do something. (I also don’t believe kids should get participation “awards” but that is a totally different subject).”

But on that subject, I’m curious: After each swim lesson, Fia goes in the office and picks out a treat.  After gymnastics she gets stamps from the coach if she participated and listened well. This week we hit the bookstore first and I got her a coloring book. I told her she couldn’t draw until after she participated in swimming and gymnastics (they are back-to-back on Monday).

In gymnastics she initially didn’t want to jump. I had the coach tell her she had to if she wanted to use her new coloring book. She suddenly became the most active participant there. And in such good spirits to boot! She was waving at me from afar, giddy and laughing with the other kids, etc. So is what I’m doing considered a “participation award?” And if so, is that a bad thing?   I certainly don’t want a kid who only does things with an expectation at the end.

So continuing this debate on how far to push your child: What is too much?  Are things like stamps, stickers, treats and coloring books considered a reward? Bribery? At 3, how much does that matter?

I await your comments. Even Nancy’s. Just don’t call my questions–or this blog–absurd.

Fia and Olivia: Proud, post-class!

 

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