Hello I am very concerned about my almost 4.5 yr old. He is a little on the shy side and has been opening up a lot recently. We've been setting up a lot of playdates as I feel we didn't interact with families with kids when he was younger and hence he has difficulty making friends or playing with other kids. He cries if he doesn't get his way when he plays with other kids. At the same time, if someone snatches a toy etc from him, he doesn't fight back or ask for it. He doesn't stand up for himself. Even as a toddler , if a kid would come snatch a toy in the playground, he would just walk away. Also, when his grandparents visited last year (for about 6 months- they live overseas), he was very rude to them most of the time. It was also the same time that we had another baby so not sure if the 2 are somehow related. My son has been going for speech therapy as he has issues for words like sch and tr. My husband earlier today suggested that maybe there might be an "issue" with our son. His teachers have given him good reviews. He is very friendly to the neighbors and our friends. He is enjoying his summer school and likes his camp. I am not sure what I can do to help. Also, to add my husband and I used to fight a lot and have very different parenting styles so not sure if that could be a contributor to his behaviour as well.
I would like to help you with your question.
I have read thoroughly through your posting. It seems to me that you son is very normal and that there is really no issues here. Let me explain more...
The poor behavior with grandparents...
It was likely more about the new baby and these new people in the house. He went from having an identified place in the family and all of a sudden 3 new people are there and he has to adjust. Mommy has less time for him with new baby and then there are these other people tell him what to do and so forth. It was an adjustment for him and he acted as most kids might.
I think it's terrific that you are setting up more play dates for him. Learning to socialize with others is something that must be learned and you are giving him lots of opportunities to learn these social interactions. That he cries when he doesn't get his way...is very typical...and that he doesn't fight back...typical as well. This is were you can teach him about negotiation, being a good sport, sharing and so forth and supporting his growing understanding of himself and others. The crying is likely about feeling frustrated...someone is upsetting his world and he doesn't like it. Okay. That's very reasonable right? Especially when you are a little kid.
And...do you really want him fighting back if someone snatches his toy? Wouldn't you rather that he learn how to share and not to be aggressive? As you wrote...you would like him to ask for the toy or object back and you can help him do this by modeling and working with him and the other child. So..you might say, "Honey, I see that X took your truck. Do you want your truck back? Okay, let's go and talk to X about that." And then you would intervene and say, "X you took Y's truck when he was playing with it. He would like it back. Y please tell X that you would like your truck back so that you can play with it some more.Then, when you are done with it, then X can have it to play with." Then you would help facilitate this exchange. Children need to learn these kinds of negotiations and they need their parents or caregivers to help them practice in a safe way.
The speech issues are being addressed. Do you think that this has contributed to his shyness or had any negative impact on him? Difficulties with some letter groups is quite common and I think it is wonderful that you are addressing this! Good for you!
That you used to fight alot might mean that he heard lots of loud and angry talk and that may contribute to him being more sensitive to fighting. The fact that you have different parenting styles is not unusual in parents...you came from different families and had different experiences. I would encourage you to consider getting on the same page by looking for a parenting program you can both agree to. One of the very best is:
Parenting With Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
This is a well-used, highly successful parenting program. You can learn more about it at:
It is amazingly easy to use and high effective.
I see that you are offline right now. When you come online I will be notified.
I await your response! I hope you find my answer thus far reassuring to you and supportive of what you are already doing.
Hello- Thanks for your response. It is reassuring to hear that this is normal behavior. I also agree with your suggestion on modeling the behavior for negotiation and sharing. This is one place I have definitely lacked in.
Another question, is when we have guests come over, he hides behind us or get over excited and screams. Same thing when we go someone's house. Is that normal?
he never wants to lose in a game and starts crying when he does. Anyway I can help him with this?
Parenting is a challenging job to be sure!
I am glad you felt reassured!
Let's look at the guest/visiting situation. Hiding behind you or getting overly excited is very common-especially in boys. They have lots of energy and that leads to lots of enthusiasm...yet at other times - just like girls - they hide behind mommy's legs. This is just about learning to feel emotionally safe with strangers and about learning more about their own emotional responses. What I would suggest is that before guests come over/or when you go visiting that you have a little chat with your son. Tell him who is coming/visiting and why. If he has met the people before, remind him about how he knows them. Tell him what the guests/visit is about and what will be happening. If they are new people, fill him in as much as possible. Then set some expectations. For example, "Mr & Mrs X and their 2 children are coming for lunch. Do you remember Mr. & Mrs. X? Do you remember X & Y. We went to their house for a picnic and you played in their tree house and had lots of fun. When they are at our house I would like all of us to be very nice. Okay. I would like you to share your toys so that everyone has a good time. Can you help mommy and daddy like that? I love you very much and I know you will have a good time."
Partly what seems to be happening is that he is unprepared and then he isn't sure how to respond. So...again..it is about teaching and modeling.
About the game playing. The lesson here is that you need to take the aim of the game or activity off winning or losing and instead about playing for the sake of having fun. What happens, of course, is that so much emphasis is on being the winner or loser that one's self-esteem and sense of self gets caught in the middle and winners are good people and losers are bad people. Truly there are no winners or losers as it is just game. So try to take away the emphasis on that and rather on playing the game and what fun we all have playing the game. So instead of saying, "I won and you lost" or putting any weight on that at all..you talk about playing the game and what fun it is and don't keep score or declare winner/loser. It appears that your son has convinced himself that losing is bad and that he feels very insecure as a result.
There will be lots of times in his little life when he will be put into that position of being told by coaches or teachers or others that winning is the goal. But at home and when he is with you...give him the message that winning isn't the goal..having fun and doing your best is.
Licensed as psychologist and marriage and family therapist
Thank you so much for you advise. I have already started practicing your suggestions. It is hard to understand the difference between a shy kid and a kid who is somewhat extroverted but maybe insecure or lacks confidence. Thanks again for your specific examples on dealing with situations.
Hello,I am very pleased that I could help you!Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance to you and your son.Parenting can be a challenge...but as you already know the joy of seeing our children develop is precious!