Painfully shy — The Bump
Pre-School

Painfully shy

I have a 4 year old son who is painfully shy. He is fine at home with people and at school but if we go anywhere other than that forget about it. I am just wondering if this is a normal stage at this age. He is enrolled in soccer this year and it took him awhile to warm up but ended up actually participating in the first practice! Then we did a workshop with his team that had lots of kids and he just sat there with his hands in his mouth and wouldn't do anything for the hour and a half. Just wondering if anyone has any advice on how to  help him overcome this fear? Thanks!

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Re: Painfully shy

  • Oh, my!  Sorry this post has gotten no traction -- it's a slow board.  

    Both of my kids were SO, SO shy.  I have lived through that "standing there sucking your fingers while everyone else plays soccer" thing too.

    It was hard to handle sports at an early age. My DD played kindergarten soccer at age 5, but my DS was not ready for an activity like that until he was older. He had no interest in playing an organized sport in preschool or kindergarten.  I didn't push this.  On the up side, this meant less stress for both of us.  On the down side -- unfortunately -- it meant that some sports were off limits to him later at age 8 or 9, when he was more emotionally and socially ready to participate.  Nowadays, if you don't start when you're a preschooler, it's hard to break in later.  I think this is a terrible aspect of youth sports, and it really bothers me.  However, our story has a really happy ending.  When he was in first grade, I signed him up for a karate class.  It was a very good match for him; he has continued in karate since that time.  Now, at age 12, he's showing an interest in running.  He also swims like a fish, but has never really wanted to join even the laid back swim team at our pool.  

    So, my advice would be not to push sports.  I think a 90 minute clinic for 4 year olds is too much.  I would just keep taking him to weekly practice and encourage him to participate.   By age 6 or 7, he'll have a much better sense for which sports he actually likes and how much he wants to participate.

    Now that my kids are much older, I can look back on the preschool years and see that they were certainly going through a shy phase, but that both are inherently mellow people.  To this day, neither of them are super extroverted, although both of them are fairly popular at school (not the most popular crowd, but not the bottom of the heap either) and they both have plenty of friends.  They have found extra-curricular activities they love, although this took longer for my daughter, since the stuff she really likes (yearbook, Shakespeare club) is really only available to older kids.

    Hang in there, Mom!  If I could go back in time and give myself advice, the most important thing I'd tell myself is "stop worrying about this so much -- they'll both be fine!"

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • I think it's normal for some toddlers and they just need some time to finally accept their new social environment. it is important that shy toddlers be often expose to various social places or groups.
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