Today I decided to tell you something I’ve been thinking about for past several days. I’m going to add this to my series about children
and the list with posts out there is HERE
. And the previous post with trips in the area, that was a little late, is HERE
Everything in this post is based on my own experiences from my own life and on watching others. Everything is my personal opinion which not everyone has to agree with. I’m very curious about your opinions and experiences, if you feel like sharing them.
Imagine a 5-year-old blond girl. She likes singing but she doesn’t do it too often because she’s usually calmed down: you’re too loud; stop being so noisy; I can’t focus; sit down and draw something instead of bothering me. She stopped expressing her emotions with singing because she understood that this isn’t welcome. She’s sad but what can she do? She’s much weaker than adults who try to calm her down so much so she couldn’t defend herself. She doesn’t sing anymore in front of other people even when she gets requests to do so when someone comes to their house. When she refuses in fear that the same things will happen again, she hears: she’s just shy in front of other people, she normally doesn’t act like this.
A father and a daughter are in a grocery store. One of father’s friends come closer to them, she didn’t see him ever before. The friend has a weird scar on his face and one of his eyes is half-closed, the other one is normal. He gives a hand to her and it’s all in bruises and scratches (later she’ll learn than he had an accident on a motorcycle). The girls remembers a situation when some time before that someone from her family got upset with her and said: look, you see that man on the bench? If you keep acting like this, I’ll give you to him! The father’s friend reminds her about that man so she’s afraid, close to crying and she’s trying to hide behind her father’s leg. He probably feels embarrassed that his daughter is afraid of his friend because of the way he looks so the only thing he says is: I don’t know what’s wrong with her… She’s just shy.
She’s 6 now and she’s at her grandmother’s house greeting guests. An old woman comes to her. She picks up the girl, hugs her, kisses in her cheeks. The girl feels that there’s something wrong, she has no idea who this lady is and what she wants. The girl tries to go away because she feels very uncomfortable and then she goes to another room. Her grandmother says: oh, she’s so shy! She’s afraid of you! and everybody starts to laugh.
When she’s in a kindergarten and her teacher asks her to come to the board, she doesn’t really want to do so. She already has a lot of experiences from home, stores, etc., so she’s afraid that it will happen again – someone will start laughing, making fun of her. The teacher says: don’t be so shy! Since she knows this word already very well, she goes out there. Unfortunately, her imagination was right. The teacher tells her a word to write. She writes it but she makes a mistake which is obviously corrected by the teacher but then everybody starts laughing… and the woman too.
Now it’s almost the end of a primary school and the same girl is rather close in her own world, she doesn’t share her problems, she doesn’t trust people, she likes being with herself. She’s learned during barely a few years that she can’t feel comfortable even in her own house. Often when she doesn’t want to do something other kids want to do, she hears: leave her alone, she’s too shy. She’s sad but if so many people call her like this, they must be right. She’s shy and there’s something wrong with her.
Secondary school and high school. Asked to describe herself, one of the first things that come to her mind is shyness. It’s stuck in her head so much that she assign this feature as a part of her personality that is impossible to change.
Yes, this girl is me.
These short stories will have reference to what I’m going to type below.
Like I said some time ago – I believe with all my heart and mind that each person is born with a white card. In my opinion, nobody has any assigned personality features, any opinions, any likes and everything is developed while growing. Main factors in developing them are parents who usually are with children during their first and the most important time in their life when they start to learn world from basics.
I think that shyness isn’t a personality feature and especially nobody is born being shy. It’s not a feeling, not an emotion either. It’s just a word. No child will call himself shy until someone else starts to call him like that. But the same child can call himself cheerful, sad or mad at someone (but only if people around accept his “negative” emotions and the kid is free to express them) because those emotions are natural. Shyness isn’t natural and, in my opinion, hurts people in a lot of ways.
What’s shyness and where does it come from? I asked myself this question a few days ago and I’ve been thinking about this the whole time since. I decided to share my thoughts with you. I know that others can have their own ideas and their own reasons and I’d like to read about them in the comments!
In my opinion, the first factor is how a child feels at home. Because if he gets punished, when parents yell at him, get upset often, beat him (including spanking), he’s stressed, anxious. He’s afraid because he doesn’t know what will happen later; he doesn’t know if he won’t get calmed down again, if he won’t have to go to “time out”. When someone is afraid, he close himself. He’s very careful, watches each step. And later each new met person is a threat in a sense because if he can’t feel comfortable at home, how can he feel comfortable with a stranger? He hides, doesn’t trust, imagines that something bad will happen… and then he’s called shy.
It happens often that children are treated as a museum exhibit. You know, someone comes to the house and there are requests like: dance for us, sing, show us how you draw, say this and that! I think that things like these put children in an awkward situation because they often don’t feel like showing off like this and they have the right to refuse doing something that doesn’t seem right for them, isn’t natural. And when they don’t want to something, they hear: hey, don’t be so shy! And this happens when, for example, a child is with her mother almost the whole time and then suddenly she’s in a group of different people who usually want to touch her, hug her, talk to her as if she was a doll.
I believe that a big influence has also making fun of someone, laughing at them. I don’t think that anyone can feel well in a situation when a group of people laughs at them because of what they’re afraid of, what they don’t like or don’t want to to. It seems not very comfortable and suddenly they don’t know what to do with themselves. And it doesn’t matter how old they are – 5 or 25. They become less trusting and they’re afraid that moments like that will repeat so they start to be careful with what and when they say things and later they’re called shy because, for example, they don’t make jokes like before or they don’t fool around like before.
And you know what else I think? I think that inculcating all those rules to children’s heads from the very first day of their life – don’t do this, you’re not allowed to do that, remember not to say that to anyone and sit like a girl and not like some guy! –
make them be less free, they’re not themselves and they’re careful. Especially when they don’t really know what will happen if they decide to do what is prohibited. And what happens then? Yes, they’re called shy.
Everything like that stay in a head and it’s hard to get rid of it. The worst thing is that a lot of people are not aware of the fact how it all started and who’s responsible for this and so they blame themselves and they really glue this word to them that prevents them from doing what they want to. Because of the fear what other people will say, what they will look like, what their family will think, etc. A phrase “I’m shy” lets them to put their problems aside but they stay inside for a long, long time and this phrase means more or less “I’m afraid, I’m stressed, I have a problem, I don’t trust you”.This feeling when I want to do something but I can’t… Something blocks me, I’m in front of the wall that I can never move and at the same time I can’t tell what it is exactly, why it is like this and how to fix it, is horrible. I know this very well and I’ll never make my children feel the same.
And you know what? When I stopped being afraid of what other people will think, I have a much better life! The difference is unimaginable. And I know that there’s still more to do in front of me but everything will come sooner or later. And I wish you the same.
Talk to you next time!