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Friday, January 7, 2011

Nothing Wrong With a Shy Child

According to documented research on the MBTI Personality Profiling Instrument, each child is born with innate personality preferences, in the same way that they are born either left or right handed. Each preference has strengths and weaknesses.

Introversion (which is often misunderstood as unhealthy shyness) is one such innate personality preference. Introversion carries with it strengths important for success. Introverted people tend to be reflective. They listen, observe and process.

In the past, parents used to force left-handed children to write with their right hand. Left-handed children who write with the right hand tend to have bad handwriting, at the same time, they've never had the opportunity to learn how to use their left (natural) hand properly. They're neither here nor there.

As such, a school of thought advocates that parents allow young children to develop skill first with their innate preference (whether left-handedness or introversion), only introducing a non-preferred skill later in life.

Little Boy is highly introverted. I left him quite alone. Ignored the issue and respected his preference. Instead, I concentrated on bringing out the strengths of the introvert. He listens well and hears people. His teacher credits him with empathy and consideration. He observes and processes well. Without trying, he scores 90+ at Science most times. If he tries, he tops the class. This is because the Science Syllabus is heavy on observation and process skills. Another introverted girl in his class is known to write very powerfully. Somehow, the reticence to speak up encouraged her to find expression elsewhere... and her parents encouraged her in that direction.

Only in P4 did I gently nudge Little Boy towards public speaking by leveraging on his love for Science. I taught him Powerpoint so that he could document his independent science research. Then I encouraged him to present to the whole family. In this way, I moved him (without making a big issue of it since it seemed so natural) from the introverted activity he preferred (science research) to the extroverted activity he did not prefer.

His Powerpoint and presentation skills improved to the point that his friends nominated him to present their Social Studies Group Project. He did such a lovely job with the Social Studies presentation that his teacher picked him to do a Show and Tell in the foyer to 3 sessions of students (P1&2, P3&4, P4&5).

He went and did all of that and wasn't stressed at all because I didn't make a big deal out of his shyness. He never knew that I worried about his shyness.

Someone told me many years ago that a gifted sculptor discerns the shape inside the marble block before he or she begins to sculpt. It was a lesson I took to heart as a parent. When a parent knows to discern, respect and bring out the best in the shape of the child he/she is blessed with... then nurture can work with nature to create a beautiful human being.

Going against nature is painful for both parent and child. I think more painful for the child who is being bent against his/her natural shape. Maybe that is why parents are encouraged to love the child for who he/she is? It is only in doing so that we can sculpt the child's shape in accordance to blueprint God had already put in our child.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...


Blur Ting said...

You're doing so well as a parent! I wish I were as insightful as you are!

petunialee said...

Oh dear... I realize I sound so self- congratulatory in this post. What I really wanna do is to offer to other parents another perspective on our kids. It is always tempting to mould our kids into what we want when we should really help them to be who they already are.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

since the world can't be a happier place with the dearth of people like you, at least your kids would be happier than most.

Wen-ai said...

I'm really inspired by your post. I really hope that I can be as sensitive and nuturing as you, when I am a mother. Hmm... when is your book getting published again?

petunialee said...

Fry - *Big Smile*

petunialee said...

Wen-ai: I'm not a particularly sensitive nor nurturing person but I guess every mother wants what is best for her kids. I suppose you will too. So, for your kids, you'll still be the greatest Ma in the world.

Book is due in June 2011. Working hard now on cleaning it up!! Wish me luck!!

Malar said...

You're such a great mother!
Hey can you share the story on how you make your boy settle down/stop crying in pre-school/kindergarten? I need an idea now.....

petunialee said...

Malar - I shared my experience in another post. Hope it helps!