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.