It's no secret that we've hit a rough patch in toddlerhood around here. Well, maybe my toddler hasn't in his eyes but in mine it sure feels like the waters are rough more often than calm. There have been days I've given up and declared that I quit. My son's shyness has consumed me. It's frustrated me beyond words. There have been days where I am just absent from seeking joy. Sometimes the tone of the day is ruined by my lack of vision to see the good in the day. I have clearly set a poor mood for the day. There have just been days...
After my quitting declaration, I received so many messages of encouragement in regards to my shy child. There was one message in particular that stated how we have to embrace that kids go at their own pace, not ours. Really, I'm not surprised that our son is more timid. My husband and I aren't super outgoing people. We don't thrive in large groups. We go because we have to; something we've learned to overcome as we age. We have 30 years on our son. He needs time to figure it out too. So since then, I've thrown the word shy out the door. Instead, I've been asking my son if he can be brave and focusing on the word bravery. I've been encouraging instead of disciplining, trying to show my understanding of his more timid ways. I decided I needed to start being his champion when it comes to this weakness of his rather than adding to his stress. If his mom can't be on his side, then who will be? Harsh words to swallow for myself but yet so true. I need to back him on this one. I've made a shift in my attitude around this and the results have been rewarding.
We started going to the library for story time and it feels like it has been a magic ticket. He is clearly in his element with story time, crafts, and books. Why I didn't think of this sooner is beyond me. The boy could sit and read books all day. Why did it take me so long to try this? I've been intentional about letting him go at his own pace. The first week we went I had to pep talked myself. I was prepared to let my son hang on me the entire time. I wasn't going to get upset with him. We were going to go but if he needed me to literally hold his hand the entire time, I was going to let him. When we arrived, I had to almost drag him in. He kept tugging at my hand to turn around. When we finally got to the reading rug he sat on my lap for the first two stories. But by the third, he asked if he could sit on the rug next to me by himself. Progress! Then it was off to craft. Here's where another test for me really comes into play. Each craft is supposed to result in a particular finished look, most requiring assistance, but my son really wants to do them on his own. "But it won't look right!!!" my inner voice cries as I reluctantly let him do the craft himself. Yes, scissors, glue sticks, and paint all by a toddler. However, he is so proud of his finished work that he loves to show it off. Letting him do it by himself, encouraging the end result, only helps boost his confidence. (Ok, I do help a little but when he says he wants to do it or takes it from me, I back off...)
With another little one on the way this fall (94 days and counting....) I don't want to spend my last weeks with my toddler upset with him because he's shy. I want to soak up everything that I can, include him when I am able, and continue to find environments that help him thrive. The shift in this all started within me. No one else. Not even the toddler.