Just perfect

June 19, 2008 at 2:47 pm 7 comments

I think at one point or another all parents believe their child is pretty close to perfect.  I know I did.  Chloe is loving, funny, sweet, smart, etc.  Most days I’m in total awe of her.  There is just one thing that makes her not-so-perfect.  Social anxiety.

I don’t know what to do or how to cure her, but she has some major social anxieties.  Yesterday’s trip to the park was a disaster.  There were two kids her age and three babies.  Seemed perfect…just the right amount of kids.  Not so much.  When a boy asked if he could have one of her crackers, she went hysterical.  When a baby touched my leg while crawling, she went hysterical, and so on and so forth.  It is embarrassing.  I feel like a total failure.  Here I have this 2 year old that is just an angel at home, but when she is around other kids, she has major meltdowns.  None of the other kids act like this.  I really don’t understand it.  She eventually calms down, but she never makes an effort to really “play” with the other kids.  Afterwards, we’ll drive home and she’ll say stuff like “that was so fun” or “I like Emma, she’s nice” but she sure doesn’t act like it when we’re in the moment.  And today, we sat outside at the coffee shop waiting for Kim and my napkin blew over and Chloe freaked out yelling “mommy’s napkin, mommy’s napkin” and proceeded to cry.  WTF???  Why does she go ballistic over such little things??  

Its really frustrating.  She is such a good kid at home and rarely ever cries.  I’m really embarrassed when she acts out, but the only “punishment” would be to leave, and that doesn’t really fix the problem.  I can’t think of anything that has “traumatized” her to make her act this way.  What’s weird is that she is cool with strangers, even men.  She’ll smile and laugh and say “hi”, but when we’re in an intimate setting where she’s forced to interact, she cries and wants to go back in the car.

I feel selfish for wanting her to change.  Why can’t she just play along with the other kids?  Have I sheltered her too much?  Is it all my fault?

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alicia  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I have no experience with this, Kate, but I did do a little research on anxiety in toddlers. I found this:

    “18 to 24 months
    At this age, toddlers learn to deal with new emotions. Many 18- to 24-month-olds show anxiety around other toddlers, especially if they are unfamiliar, and also become anxious in anticipation of unpleasant events. And while temper tantrums are not necessarily a new phenomenon at this age, toddlers often perfect them as they approach 2 years of age. ”

    I know Chloe already turned 2, but maybe it’s residual. Maybe it’s just taking her a little longer to adjust to the newness of being a toddler.

    The other thing I read is that the only way to help with the behavior is to keep doing what you’re doing, no matter how much she fights it. Social interaction with other toddlers is good for her, even if she’s freaking right now. I saw a few suggestions about one-on-one playdates in a familiar setting, like your house. Limit it to no more than 1 hour, and let the kids just do their thing. There may be pushing and shoving and grabbing, but that’s just them dealing with life. Do you know any other moms with toddlers that might want to do playdates?

  • 2. katiegirlp  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Thanks, A.

    I’m tempted to start the one-on-one play dates, but I know she is going to freak about sharing her toys. I’ll feel really bad for the other kid.

    I’m sticking with it though. We’ve been out every morning this week. Hopefully she’ll feel a little more comfortable each time. Its hard though, I won’t lie.

  • 3. Lisa  |  June 19, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Aaron was/is like this, but it comes in waves. Try one-on-one play dates with someone you’re close to. Have the other mom know before hand that you’re trying to get Chloe used to being around other people and that you want her to experience other children, even if it does make her freak out a bit. Have them at your house, where Chloe will feel safe and keep them really short, 20-30 min, so she doesn’t get overwhelmed.
    I had play dates with a friend who’s baby was close to Aaron’s age and it helped out a lot. He never really out grew this stage, he still freaks out a little, but some kids are naturally shy. Once he gets to know the people, he’s a little better, so I have to hang around and introduce him to everyone so he’s okay.

  • 4. Amanda  |  June 19, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Ava is the total opposite lately. She interacts TOO much! She is constantly in the other kid’s face. They will run away and she will chase them. if only we could give some of that to Chloe and even them out!!

    You are NOT a failure though, she is a kid. A TODDLER, they are weird little creatures! Chloe is a very happy kid, she might just be shy.

  • 5. Sara  |  June 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    No, she’s not even slightly abnormal, and yes it can be a pain. She may always be a slightly shy; it may just be part of her personality – or – with more exposure she may lighten up a little. You’ve done nothing wrong. Kid’s personalities typically happen despite us. We can only form so much of them, and other stuff is innate. Get yourselves out there and just let her be herself, awesome kid that she is.

  • 6. csmhk  |  June 19, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Don’t be so hard on yourself Kate. Chloe is perfectly normal from what it sounds like. Noah went through a phase like this as well. He suddenly became scared or extremely shy around people even though he’d seen them regularly and he was also going to a playgroup twice a week at the time. I’m sure it’ll pass as well. It’s difficult and frustrating to watch your child go through this but that doesn’t make you a selfish or bad parent. Hang in there! It gets easier.

  • 7. whatsupwiththejoneses  |  July 1, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I’m late to this discussion as usual, but ditto what everyone says. It’s totally normal. For Cooper it depends on the day, and his mood…whether he’s eaten or napped, etc., etc. I have narrowed down the best times of the day for him and I try to do things within a small window if it might include sharing his toys, etc. Sometimes it’s best to just help ’em through it and keep at it like you’re doing. The crying and the meltdown isn’t hurting them any…it’s just one of their only outlets for frustrations. She’ll start to adapt and then you’ll have a little Ava on your hands….LOL~

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