Thursday, July 03, 2008


My dear sweet four year old daughter is completely and totally exclusive. You are either on her list or your not. Who's on the list? Her immediate family, grandparents, aunts, one uncle and a few close friends. You can also tell if your on her A list, if....drum roll please, she talks to you. My first born can talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Little girl however is greatly pained if asked to say a peep to someone she doesn't know. Now, this has worked for her so far. Her cute little face and bashful head bow have been all she needed to get through any awkward moments. She simply hids away behind me or creates her own little bubble of non-communication.

For four and a half years I have allowed her to do so. I ask her to speak at times and sometimes (rarely) she will. Most of the times she gives a half giggle and ducks her head. After doing some learning and personality discussions I have learned that part of this is indeed who she is and how God made her. I however, will not be allowing her to take advantage of it any longer. Personally, I find it rude that she will not talk to people. As far as strangers go, yes I am thankful she is conscience about things. I am talking about other situations. Here are a few of them:
1.Mom introduces her to a new person. New person asks her name. I expect her to say Hello and say her name. If they ask how old she is, I expect her to tell them. They are no longer a stranger, Mom has made an introduction.
2. A waitress brings her meal, I expect her to say thank you.
3. The grocery clerk at the store. Many times little girl will use her own money to make a purchase. On such occasions I expect her to say thank you or have a good day to the clerk.
4. Other kids within her social circle, church or enrichment day, I would expect her to carry on a basic conversation with them.
Am I expecting too much?
For me this is part of character development and manners. I understand she feels shy in new circumstances. I understand she does not want to launch into a LONG conversation with new people. I also know my daughter is a bright, caring person, who once you are on her list she will talk you ear off. Carrying on full discussions about anything and everything. She will sing in front of you or dance. I see a side of her that is so outgoing and then there is the can not say peep if I don't know you.
I have decided that this is one battle I am ready to fight. I have always heard choose your battles wisely and the time has come that I am ready to fight this one.
In preparation we have been doing role playing. We have went through all sorts of scenarios. And one on one with me, she does fine. In real life those same scenarios are met with stone silence. I am done with it. I told her the next time she refused to speak to someone or thank them when mommy her asked to, she was going to have no TV for a couple days.
That day came today. While at the bowling alley watching the boy during summer camp, another mother (whom she has seen repeatedly over the last couple weeks,) gave her a ring from the 25 cent machine. Having only boys she decided to give it to my daughter, very nice of her. Little girl accepted it, with a little giggle and the head bow. I asked her to say thank you, to which she replied under her breathe that she didn't want to. I reminded her of the consequence and she debated. She said she would but when the time came she completely baulked, not once but twice. Then she ran crying out of the bowling alley.
I have stuck to my guns and she will not be watching TV for the next couple of days. I am taking the TV out of her room, this was the most upsetting. And she will not be getting it back until she can show me that she can be polite to others by speaking to them when required. I told her if it takes a year so be it. If it takes until Christmas, however long it takes, I am not backing down.

So, if you should see us in the near future. Please, help us practice speaking to others. Be patient. Be direct. And continue eye contact with her, even as she looks away. Please be gracious. We are really working on this and I know that she can do it. I also know it may take time.


Kellie said...

Thanks for the heads up. I will try to be a cooperative participant. Although she my be fine with me now. I don't know.

Staci said...

As a (mostly former) shy person and an extremely shy child, I will say tread carefully. Situations 1-3 are no-brainers. Definitely go with them and enforce the consequences.
#4 is not a hill I would die on. I would seriously consider allowing to happen naturally. And it will, in due time.
Incidences may make for great character development stories later on down the road.
Whenever we ran into my kindergarten gym teacher (former neighbor and also H.S. teacher), he would tell the story of how I refused to do jumping jacks because I was too shy. Or there was the time I hid under my desk one day in 5th grade.
She will grow and open up.
Aside from requiring the hellos and thank you, please be patient.

Staci said...

forgot to add..
re: #4 - as long as she is a bright student and interacts well with her close friends, I would not worry.

And if you ever would like me to answer questions from the shy kid perspective, feel free to ask.