Hunter’s very comfortable and outgoing at home with us, but in other situations she’s very reserved. I know that’s her personality, and that’s totally fine, but as a complete social incompetent myself, I do want to be sure she’s socially adept enough to be happy in life.
The people who know her best probably don’t consider her shy, because when she’s in familiar surrounds, she’s completely outgoing. She’ll put on shows and sing songs and boss us all around. She’s also great with adults generally, even if they’re relatively new to her acquaintance, and she’s good with younger kids and with older kids. But with her peers, not so much.
I believe it’s about safety and fear of rejection. Adults don’t say, “I don’t want to play with you” and neither do little kids who are happy to follow her instructions. Older kids are leaders to her and she knows they thinks she’s cute, so they’re no threat either.
But with a group of children her own age, she struggles a bit.
It’s not like other kids don’t like her, or vice versa, it’s just that outside a structured setting she doesn’t really know how to interact with kids her own age. She doesn’t generally feel comfortable joining in with a group at preschool – she’d rather hang back and do her own thing until one of the other kids either joins her, or invites her into some other activity.
I’m exactly the same, and leigh’s like that to an extent, too, so we feel like we don’t really have the tools to show her how to be more confident and less worried about rejection.
She’s happy enough at preschool but I want to make sure we’re using this time to teach her the skills she’ll need when she gets to school and has less shepherding from staff. And I guess I am a bit hypersensitive, too, because I’m such a social dufus myself.
I had a chat with her preschool teacher this morning and she agreed that Hunter does like to be around the teachers, talking with them, showing them things, etc. She thinks it’s partly that Hunter is a very mature kid (she really is) and partly that she is more reserved than average.
Her preschool teacher doesn’t think it’s a particular problem, and neither do I, really, but she’s going to think about some strategies to help Hunter with those social skills so she can feel comfortable within her own circle of friends.
I don’t think she’ll ever be the life of the party, that’s just not her nature, but I really want her to feel like it’s okay to say “can I play with you?” or “do you want to help me with this puzzle?” if that’s what she really wants to say.
We’ve talked about maybe inviting over one of her preschool friends to play some time. Unfortunately the one kid she keeps suggesting is from a very strict Muslim family. I have no issue with that and I’m quite happy for Hunter to be friends with this girl, but I can’t imagine asking her mother (in her hijab) if she and her daughter would like to come over to our two-mum household for a catch up.