Family Life

A Shy Child – Joining Rainbows

Caitlin is quite possibly the shyest child I have ever met. She always has been, and it’s something I blame myself for a lot. I worry I didn’t socialise her enough when she was young. With Neil, I went to baby group every week until a little while after his first birthday. Things were different during Caitlin’s first year though, we had recently moved to Northern Ireland and it was hard to find a group I felt welcome in. As they got older we tried toddler group, but soon found that Neil couldn’t cope with them, so we stopped going.

Neither of my children went to nursery. There wasn’t anywhere to send them in our village, and it wasn’t logistically possible to get busses back and forth every day. Once Neil started school I started to take Caitlin to toddler/ play groups again, but I fear by that point it was already too late.

Starting school, she was very shy. It took her a good few weeks to open up and start making friends. School finished early for the first month, so I would travel in the car with another mum to pick her up. Driving home, the other little girl would chat away to Caitlin, and Caitlin would hardly utter a word. She was literally too shy to speak.

That little girl is now Caitlin’s best friend, the two of them are inseparable at school. When you get them together, you can’t keep them quiet. She’s also become friends with another few girls, and sometime has playdates with them after school. When it comes to meeting new people though, the shyness is still crippling for her.

We went camping during the summer, and the campsite has a children’s play park. Children who’d never met each other before were all playing together, as children do. A girl said hello to Caitlin and told her what her name was, and Caitlin didn’t say a word. She just looked straight ahead, like a rabbit caught in oncoming traffic. More recently I’ve found her standing at her bedroom window watching kids playing in the street. I’ve tried to encourage her to go to and play with them but she won’t.

She’s such a sweet natured, kind girl. She’s always making little gifts and pictures for the people she is friends with. This week she took little drawings in to school, each of them with a little message ‘Thank you for being my friend’. It really breaks my heart, she’s so sweet. I just wish she had the confidence to make new friends and meet new people.

At home she has such a vibrant personality, she’s so full of energy and never fails to put a smile on my face. But she really struggles to show that side of her around other people.


She had been going to Girls Brigade with her best friend from school, but she stopped it for a while this year. She asked about going back, which is when I decided it might be good to try Rainbows and Brownies. Girls Brigade was great for her; But my problem was, with her best friend beside her she wasn’t going to try and talk to new people. Maybe it’s madness, but putting her in to a group of people she doesn’t know might give her the little push she needs to learn how to make new friends. I joined Brownies when I was younger not knowing anyone, and I loved it. It was a real boost for my confidence, and I’m hoping it will be for Caitlin too.

I contacted the local Rainbows group, only to be told that they were full. Disappointed, I emailed back to say thank you and asked them to let me know if a space became available. Then I had an idea. I added the words ‘if you need any help with the group I’m more than willing’, and then I hit send. It’s totally out of character for me, but I figured if Caitlin would be stepping out of her comfort zone, then why shouldn’t I?

The rainbows leader soon contacted me back and said that would be a great idea, and that with my help they could take on Caitlin and another girl on the waiting list.

So, Caitlin is now officially a Rainbow, and I am officially (almost) a rainbow volunteer. I really do hope joining a new group will help to bring her out of her shell. She really is such a lovely little girl, and I hope she gets a chance to share her love and warmth with some new friends. I guess only time will tell!

I’ll be writing about how our first night went, so check back tomorrow for that story!

Are your children shy? How do you help them boost their confidence when making friends? I’d love to know below.


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  • Reply Sarah (Mum x3x) November 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Awww. My daughter is shy, too!Do you know, I use to go to Girls Brigade, I did not know that it was still around!! Rainbows is a great idea, I’m sure your daughter will come out of her shell more! Bless her. I think my daughter woulds enjoy something like Girls Brigade or Rainbows. Hmm, something for me to think about and looking into 🙂 xx

  • Reply Rebecca | AAUBlog November 10, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    what a nice thing to do together. Hopefully it helps her grow with confidence. I can still remember my time at rainbows from when I was younger x
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  • Reply Everything Mummy November 10, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Really brilliant and great for you putting yourself out there as well, I have been meaning to look into rainbows for my girls i really hope this helps your little one feel more confident x

  • Reply Rachel George November 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    It is great that you are volunteering there. These groups do great things for children. Don’t blame yourself for her shyness though. My first one was fine around adults but terribly shy around children when he was little, despite us going to lots of groups and activities. He blossomed into a confident boy at around 7-8 years old.
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  • Reply PopsBooMum November 10, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    This reminds me so much of my Boo. She is my first child and like you we tried baby & toddler groups sporadically but I found them so clicky, and believe me I don’t find it hard chatting to strangers. Boo grew up with an ease of talking to adults but showed little interest in her peers. We used to take her to parties and the park and when all the children were playing together I would watch Boo- miles away from them playing on her own and at first I found it really upsetting but then I started to realise, yes she needs a bit of encouragement, but also she is her own person and likes her own space. We recently got Boo into Rainbows after initially being told there was a 19 month waiting list (!), and I can already see a difference in her, she really enjoys it and slowly but surely she is getting more confidence to try things she hasn’t done before. Please don’t beat yourself with a stick, remember all children are different and as long as they are happy thats all that matters.

  • Reply Nicola Cassidy November 10, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Ah well done for making that step and volunteering – I bet she’ll feel even more comfortable knowing you are there for her. I’m not sure that not getting to nursery etc has had such an effect – I’d imagine she is shy by nature – an introvert maybe – and it’ll take her a while to adjust or to get the confidence to make her friends. We are all different – quiet people are often the most interesting! A lot of people used to think I was very quiet till they got to know me – but really I was just watching everything and taking it all in 🙂

  • Reply Kat | Kitty and B November 11, 2016 at 12:16 am

    I really wouldn’t beat yourself up, Caitlin sounds lovely and she opens up when she’s comfortable. Not everyone can be the loud one (can you imagine if we all were ). I was really shy as a child, but very bubbly in certain situations where I felt comfortable. Fast forward some years and I’ve lived abroad on my own, travelled South America alone and loads more! The fact that you’re there for her and willing to try different things is fab! x


  • Reply Cliona November 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Ah, little pet! Both my girls were extremely shy and still are to a large degree. We sent them to a local Steiner school because the classes sizes were small and the classes very gentle and caring. I think that kids just have different personalities and that’s ok. I was very shy as a kid and I’m still pretty quiet but well able to speak out for myself and be sociable. Best of luck with the new venture!

  • Reply Natasha November 11, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    aww, she sounds just like me when I was younger. But It’s a good thing you push her to join in Rainbows. I think the younger you can get her being more social the better. I really struggled as a teenager and it wasn’t until I had my first child at 20 that I became more confident in myself
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  • Reply Tracy Morgan November 11, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Ah bless! One thing I would be wary of is to make sure you don’t let her hear you call her shy. As a kid I was labelled shy and I hated it. I am not shy, I am just very sensitive. My youngest son sounds very like your daughter, and we just let him do things at his own pace. Your little girl will, too! The friendship she has with the little girl in school will do her the world of good and she will make other friends. It’s a mummy’s job to worry, but it sounds like you are doing a great job!

  • Reply Cass November 12, 2016 at 11:33 am

    My daugher is quite shy too but she’s getting there and her school are amazing at pushing her out of her comfort zone very gently x

  • Reply Stephanie November 14, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    My son has been the shyest out of my 3 kids, although joining cubs was the best thing for him. Gave him confidence and taught himself things he never realised he could do and made lots of new friends.

  • Reply Janine November 18, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    My two are shy. It takes them around half an hour before they warm up and can trust the other person.

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