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Timid child

publication date: Feb 7, 2009
author/source: Anne Coates

One of the major lessons all parents have to learn is not to compare their children! Siblings often appear like chalk and cheese and comparisons always seem to imply an element of criticism of one or other child.

Although children of the same parents are genetically related they are not environmentally related which means that their character and personality are also influenced by their non-shared environment. Your daughter was born three years before and into a different set of circumstances. Your son, as a second child, has perhaps felt in awe and in the shadow of his “full of beans” sister. But above all he is a completely different person.

Is your son actually unhappy with his lot? Just because he is quiet doesn’t mean he isn’t enjoying life. And maybe he seems quieter because his sister is so lively? How does he compare with his classmates?

You say he’s a worrier - some of us are born that way! But do you know what he is worrying about? Get him to talk about things generally – about his day, school etc and really listen carefully for what is not said as much as what is. Acknowledge any concern he has and talk about ways of overcoming or dealing with it, asking him for suggestions and letting him see that he can come up with solutions. This will build up his confidence.

Never dismiss a worry. To him it’s real. For instance some children worry about their parents dying or becoming seriously ill, brought on by a classmate’s mother or father dying or even something that happened in a book or television programme. In fact make a point of watching TV with him and talking about what happens in the programmes, how would he react to such and such a situation etc. Remember too that a minor row between parents is often misinterpreted by children as meaning that their parents are about to divorce!

Children worry about all sorts of things and it’s up to us to give them the confidence to see there are ways around most problems. Give both your children a chance to have some time alone with you – and be alert for any worries your son may have and want to discuss.