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shyness and being ready for headstart


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My nearly-5 year old daughter is very shy—to the point she won’t talk or interact with most grown-ups or other kids unless she knows them very, very well. She doesn’t go to daycare, and doesn’t really have many opportunities to socialize outside the family. When I’ve arraigned play-dates and reading club and such, she has always either clung to me and not interacted, or thrown a tantrum until it’s over.


She’s very willful and stubborn. She often doesn’t want to do things when it’s time (picking up toys, etc.). I realize a big part of her behavior is my fault—when she’s thrown fits, I’ve taken her home. I reinforced the shyness. To be perfectly honest, I feel like a hypocrite, because I’m a loner, too, but I just want her to have an easier time of things than I did.


There was an opening in headstart, and she’s in it. All the little girls were very friendly to her, but she refused to go into the room for the first two hours, clung to me most of the morning and didn’t let me out of her sight most of the rest of the day, refused to go outside for recess (again, with me), and barely interacted at all. She says she hates it. I agree with her teacher that she needs it. But at the same time, I don’t know—maybe I AM pushing her. Maybe she isn’t ready yet. Her brother up being homeschooled kindergarten (because we were relocating) ended, so it wasn’t expected of him (not that there was anything to ask, he’s very social) until he was 6! There’s a part of me that thinks: this is the one who would want to be homeschooled til first grade.


Academically is no problem—she’s already starting to read—we only got her into preschool for socializing. But how do I know if she’s ready for it? Or am I just capitulating again?

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I think you need to give the headstart a chance, without you there, to see if she likes it. No one likes change, especially children, and this is a big one. When I worked in childcare I used to ask the parents for 3 weeks trial. Then you can re-evaluate the situation with the input of the teachers. If your daughter is shy it is going to take a while for her to get adjusted, but sooner or later she is going to have to go to school. I feel the pre-school environment is actually a safer environment to get her socially adjusted. In real school there is simply no time for the teachers-or the other students-to work with one student on social skills. This is a sad comment, but a very realistic one with all the pressures put on teachers/students in today's society.


If she has never been in daycare/preschool, and hasn't had much interaction within play groups you need to expect her to be withdrawn, clingy, whiny, and crying almost on a daily basis for the first 5-7 days. She has to do this on her own terms. I know that once a parent left their child the child did much better socially. She will cry everyday for at least a week and possibly for months when you drop her off. (why not if it has worked before and who wouldn't want to be at home getting one on one) BUt she will probably come along inside the classroom when she feels safe. This is why you need to be in contact with the teacher and not just take her word for how much she hates school.


You need to remain positive about the experience. Act excited and happy about her going to school, she gets her cues from you. Pump it up and celebrate the good days at school. Continue to remind her that you will be back and won't forget her.


Good luck and have faith that she will be fine.

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If you don't do it now it will only become harder and you will have a 10 year old clinging to your leg or a 16 year clinging to your leg wanting you to go on her first date with her. (I had a good friend like this).

My son is the polar opposite of your daughter, thankfully he is very social but my nephew sounds very similar and my SIL did the same as you are thinking of doing and she kept him out of pre-k, headstart and all of the like because he was "too shy" well once he was enrolled in school he had such a hard time adjusting and would physically make himself sick just to go home. Now, a year later he is just now starting to adapt to being away from his mom and he still won't interact with anyone except his mom.



Make a big deal out of it, it's a good thing that she was able to get in. And once she is able to realize and understand that it isn't bad to be interacting with other kids she will enjoy herself. You just have to force yourself to let go. Even if that involves you taking your child to the headstart, and leaving her even while she is crying. I know as a parent that is very hard to do but she will get busy and forget all about it. It is something you have to eventually and now is the best time!

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