When it comes to issues with child-rearing, many parents naturally express their concern over unwanted behaviour like biting, hitting and kicking.
Less of us complain when our children are shy or withdrawn.
It’s our social awareness in action that some behaviours are welcome, like the quiet child is thought to be “good” and the obstructive, adventurous, loud or argumentative child is not so welcome.
So, I was a little surprised when I came across a social media post from a mother who was seeking answers about her quiet 5-year-old. (“I can hear the likely “shark music” being concerned that her child may get overrun by those around her”.)
The mother wrote that her little girl seems to struggle with being seen or noticed. At dance class and preschool the child doesn’t join in during song and dance time. Yet, when she comes home, she rehearses all of the songs word-for-word.
Her mother sees that the little girl wants to go to kids activities but when they get there the little one freezes up. Even though she doesn’t take that step to join in, she still begs to go back the next week.
The mother added that she’s at a loss on whether to keep goin even though her child doesn’t get involved. She is concerned that she’ll get bullied and bossed around like she was as a child. She doesn’t know how to ‘be’ for her daughter. What is the right thing. Keep going, or stop.
We all have quirks
The child sounds like she just likes to observe what goes on around her. This is a strong quality in the supporter and conscientious quadrants of the DISC behaviour profile.
It looks like the mother in this situation may have been concerned about the future effects of her child’s behaviour. That is an understandable response. However, based on the information that was provided, it looks like she has nothing to worry about.
It’s natural to be concerned, especially with this mother’s lived experience. Though it’s important to recognise that our child is not us. Certainly it’s likely that she may be reserved like mum. With the appropriate scaffolding and support, a quiet child can still be one with healthy boundaries. The best thing to do is to accept where she is and provide her with opportunities to be the best version of herself.
As the mother of four, I’ve had to deal with the extrovert, out-there, dynamic child and the don’t-look-at-me, shy child. They all have their special gifts to share.
My older daughter was extremely quiet, but she blossomed when she went through adolescence. Now in her early 30s, she leads a team and manages people.
My younger daughter is much more of a traditional empath and highly sensitive child. She feels the emotions of others. It took practice, process, mindfulness and a great mindset to help her manage her empathic behaviour to avoid overwhelm.
DISC Personality Types
The DISC model for determining personality types has four quadrants.
The little girl is likely in the S supporter and/or C Conscientious quadrant.
In the “C” quadrant, her attributes of very conservative and a deep thinker, tends not to want to be noticed except if doing things well. So, she takes time and evidence before participating or making decisions. That will be her strength as she grows.
This little girl could also be in the S quadrant. This means she likes being quiet, and she also likes certainty in the form of comfort and security in connecting with people. They quietly work away and don’t like being singled out. They’re not great about making mistakes because that might get them singled out.
People under this quadrant are the engine room of the group or organisation. The peacemakers, preferring to do things without fuss. Will avoid conflict at almost any degree.
Since people can be composites of the DISC personality types.
The biggest opportunity with kids in the S & C sectors is to keep their thinking flexible as much as possible. They will generally take time to process their thoughts, but with patience, they can remain in the growth mindset.
A tip for mothers
There is an opportunity here to be accepting of where the child is, validating her feelings, empathising with her experience and being curious about her thinking.
Many of us miss the opportunity to listen to our children with genuine curiosity and without judgement, justification or defensiveness.
Often we become clumsy when we try to communicate with our children. Our own worries take over, and in our best intentions of support may become references of judgement, or confirming to our child they “should” be fearful. Often the opposite of what we meant to be their experience.
The book How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen has examples to get a better idea of how to use more effective language. The aim is to get information and not just base everything on an assumption of our children’s experience.
We need to learn how to understand and accept our children as they are, and treat them in ways that enable and empower them to learn how to be centred in themselves. This will make them feel capable within themselves, leading to greater resilience and facilitating greater confidence.
Do you have a similar concern with your child?
Would you like to learn how to support them even better?
Book a Discovery Session.
My mission is to support and empower you to experience a best quality life, through becoming the best version of you, so that you can be the leader in your family and model of what you want your child to become.