Struggling with Shyness – 18 months old

I’ve written Monkey’s current age in the title but this has been going on for a while really, on and off. At the moment though he does seem to be going through a particularly shy patch. It seems strange as he is quite brave in many ways, he’ll go down pretty big slides by himself, likes climbing and doing all sorts, but for some reason he is just really shy of people at the moment.

For quite a while now if we bump into someone when we are out, or a new person comes to the house, or even if someone just walks past us when we are out he will run to me, cuddle in close and bury his head in my neck. If he can’t get to me, he will absolutely bawl until I come to him and then he does the head bury. He hasn’t always been like this, he has come in and out of shy stages but it’s not been as bad as this before. I realised that it was particularly bad this time, as this morning, while we were out on our walk, I noticed that when he is in his buggy and sees a person (and they can be pretty far away) he will lean as far back in his seat as he can and scrunch his eyes as tightly closed as possible! Or sometimes he will cover his eyes with his hands for ages, sneaking the occasional peep to see if they are still visible.

He’s always been slightly wary in new places, staying firmly at my side, and has definitely been a clingy boy. He is definitely wary of older children too. I have read some people say their shy toddler is fine with other children, but not Monkey. He is better with children he knows but even then he tends to back away of they get to close or try and engage him but I’ve figured that most of this is just down to his age.

He is much better with family, we have made a conscious effort to make sure he sees both sets of grandparents once a week and his uncles and aunts as often as possible to make it easier on all of us! And it definitely has worked, thankfully he is happy to be with all his grandparents without me or daddy, and he even played with two of his uncles the other week while hubby and I did some jobs. But, my aunt was out of the country for a while and when she came to visit again, even though my mum was there too, I popped out of the room and he screamed his head off. It took him ages to warm up to her. She stayed with us most of the day and he was fine in the end, even giving her lovely cuddles but it took some time.

To help with this, especially in the run up to Christmas he has a little photo album of family and friends we see regularly. He loves this album and can spend ages poring over it. He loves pointing at all the pictures while I say each persons name. It definitely does help as he hadn’t seen my older brother for a few weeks, but after seeing pictures of him in the album he was really happy to play with Uncle Paul and even be left alone with him for a short while so that’s good. Helps with people he sees intermittently.

But it can be so hard. I have read that you shouldn’t label them as shy or make a fuss out of the behaviour or say they are being silly. While that makes sense, it is also is more difficult than it sounds. When I can, whilst he has his head buried I try and tell him that it’s ok, that there’s nothing to be scared of, that mummy isn’t going anywhere and the people aren’t scary. I can’t always do that though if we bump into people who want a conversation, because of course they notice and often ask if he is a shy boy, or I find myself saying he is in a shy stage, almost defensively as I don’t want them to think badly of him. Likewise when people walk past and coo over him or just say good morning, when he is sat in an awkward position with his face all scrunched up, they give him such a funny look that again I want to come to his defence.

Apparently his daddy was shy as a child and never wanted to be left at birthday parties or anything, yet now he is a hugely confident adult so I know it is probably just a phase that he will grow out of. I can’t help but wonder what he would have been like had I gone back to work and he had had to go to a nursery or child-minder, whether that would have helped with shyness, or made it worse? I am a big believer that obviously you can try different things and we shape a lot of the way our children turn out, but that there is also an element of kids just being who they are. They have their own personalities that we cannot, and therefore shouldn’t try to, change.

I guess I will just have to be supportive and accepting and see when/if he grows out of this shy stage. Any of you have shy little ones? Any tips?


2 thoughts on “Struggling with Shyness – 18 months old

  1. I don’t have any tips, I’m afraid. It sounds like you’re doing the right things, and that photo album idea sounds good. I suppose the only thing to try is slightly increasing the time he spends with others and having a few more play dates? I’m sure he’s doing brilliantly well by having you with him, so don’t be questioning whether he’d be better off with a childminder – I’ve done that a fair few times, too! Hopefully he’s all set now for Christmas as you’ve prepared him well, and you’ll all have a lovely time x

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, I do find it is so easy to doubt yourself! Good point about the playdates, over the summer we spent so much time with friends and their toddlers, but they’ve pretty much all returned to work part time, so we do still see them but nowhere near as often as we did and there has been quite a lot of poorliness amongst the little ones lately which has meant we have seen them even less often, hmm something to think about!

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