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anxious/shy daughter becoming withdrawn in school
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anxious/shy daughter becoming withdrawn in school

I'm the proud dad of a very loving, attentive and shy/slow to warm up daughter.  she's turning 5 this June.

this year marked the first year of school for her, in a large class of 30, with a teacher and assistant.  The start of school was challenging for her, typical separation anxiety with me dropping her off, but as the beginning of the year went on, she adjusted.  we had our teacher review before the christmas break and was told she was doing well.  there were times when the kids would be going to choose activities and my daughter would stand there looking a bit lost, but the teachers would help direct her to something of interest and she would do fine.  we were told she was adjusting well, loved art, and working on writing and such.  it was always hard for her to join in with other peers, but she had found a few friends that she liked and would spend some time with them.  the girl she attached to the most was 1 year older than her (she is in a split class of junior and senior kindergarten).  this girl is probably also the most outgoing kid in her class.

leading up to the start of school we had her in some saturday programs.  she was in an instructor led swimming class (5 kids with one teacher).  the first try the teacher was male and she was too afraid, 2nd time around we got a female teacher and she was more comfortable around her.  i'll add that we don't have any grandfathers around, just one brother in law who my daughter didn't see all that much so apart from myself, it's mainly been my wife, her mom and my mom, which i think explains her hesitation around males she doesn't know.

as far as caregiving, we have her in the aftercare program at school (as myself and my wife both work). when she started school, we had her stay in after care twice a week, and 3 times we had either my mom or my wife's mom pick her up from school.  a full 9 to 5 day is a long day for a 4 year old so we figured breaking it up would help her.  we found that on the days she went to aftercare consecutively she seemed to adjust better so we started keeping her there more often and eventually we had her staying in aftercare every day.  she seemed to love aftercare, and was really fond of Gino and Marzy, the guy and girl that ran the aftercare program.  they were both very warm and caring and she attached to them well.  there were less kids there and i think that helped her feel at ease.

over the break we went with the kids for new years to my wife's family's house. they're a pretty loud bunch, so daughter is always shy and clingy when we arrive, but usually she warms up quickly.  she's still very hesitant to talk to the adults.  this time she clung to me for a good 45mins, hiding her face in my shirt and refusing to look at anyone, even her cousin her age who she plays with.  only after 45-1 hour did she start to relax and play.  by the end she was fine but the warm up was ALOT longer than usual, and the face hiding was new.

so this brings me up to current.  when christmas break ended and she went back to school, her anxiety about going to school came back in full force.  for the first week, she cried in the mornings telling me she didn't want to go to school. towards the end of the first week i spoke to the ECE (teacher's assistant in her class) and was told she hadn't been wanting to participate at all in anything.  for the most part she would just sit on the matt all day, and would only ask for her snack.  during quiet time she would fall asleep a couple of times (which is understandable, full day is a long day for these little ones).  over the past week i got the impression from the assistant that, although she was still sitting by herself, she would come around in the afternoon and do some art.

however this morning her teacher pulled me aside as the kids were going in and said that nothing's really changed with her and that she's really not sure what to do.  her stance has always been to give kids choices, and not force them into anything.  so she'll gently ask if she wants to do this or that, but won't push things if my daughter doesn't want to do anything.  my daughter can be pretty stubborn so if she says no, she's a tough cookie to convince.

what's concerning to us is this withdrawl (withdrawal) that is happening in school. the teacher is asking us if anything has changed at home because she's like a different person now.  i assured her that nothing has.  in all honesty there's been some stress at home, with us working and being tired so there are times my wife and i are a bit short fused at each other (not at the kids) but i'd consider this normal.

we signed her up for gymnastics which started just before the christmas break.  in this class the caregivers are to leave the kids with the teachers and sit in another room.  i tried taking her twice, but she wouldn't participate.  the 2nd time i took her just to watch but she just asked to leave.  we decided not to push it and cancelled the class.  we now have her in the level below where it is done with caregiver and we do all the activities along with us.  she's very hesitant but she does it.  she won't do anyhting that draws attention to herself (jumping jacks etc..) but she'll walk along the balance beam and do some of the other activities.  in the playground she's very coordinated and athletic.  she loves climbing and running, and isn't scared of the playground equipment at all, even with other kids there (though this was last fall, so we will see in the spring)

i'm just worried that what we are seeing is perhaps the start of something along the lines of social anxiety disorder or separation anxiety disorder, something along those lines. of course none of this can be diagnosed by us as parents, but my heart breaks for my little girl, picturing her sitting all alone in her class.  her teacher said that for the upcoming report card she's just not sure what to write, because she won't do anything so she'll focus on the progress she's seen up until the christmas break.

hoping there are others out there that have gone through this.  am i just dealing with a sweet introverted and shy girl here? or is there something else going on?

we also have a son who is 20 months old, and he's quite the opposite.  very physical and outgoing with all the adults around him.

4 Comments Post a Comment
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134578_tn?1404951303
You have the daughter and one son and any others?  Or just those two?  And how did she do in this regard before the baby came along?

You said it has been a bit stressed at times between you and your wife, though you've never been harsh with the kids.  Would you characterize this stress as the kind that winds up with you yelling at each other?  Or just, the atmosphere in the house can get a little tense?  Would she have heard one or the other of you saying something that indicates to a kid that both parents are not going to be around together?

She is 4 1/2 and in junior kindergarten now?

In your shoes I would seek out a family counselor and discuss what you are seeing, and see if the counselor thinks this is a sign of more things to come or just a normal 4-year-old given the situation (new baby, away from both parents a lot of the day, etc.)  The counselor might be able to give you specific advice about how to interact with your daughter for some improved outcomes.  Her behavior sounds withdrawn given her age group but not out of the realm of normal behavior for some kids.  But just enough out of the norm that in your shoes I'd want to ask a professional if it is a signal of a bigger issue.
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Avatar_m_tn
one daughter and one son.  my wife stayed home with our son from his birth in may 2013 up until the fall, so she was home with both kids from his birth (she was 3) up until the start of school.  my daughter was good with him for the first 5 or 6 months.  as he demanded more attention she began to act out against my wife, throwing more tantrums and such.  seemed to us like attention seeking behaviour.   we had her in speech therapy at the time which meant my wife took her during the day and they got some one on one time (aside from the therapy).  lunch together and such.  she did very well in speech therapy.  we acted on it early and (from what we could tell) she didn't perceive it as a negative thing, she loved the therapists that she worked with and she made tremendous strides.  she's pretty much bang on for speech for her age now and has a tremendous vocab.  we wanted to give her all the advantages we could as she entered school.

sorry side track a bit :)  anyway as her brother got older, she got better, though she would tend to lose her temper with him quite a bit ("no christopher that's my doll!" folllowed by hitting him).  however over the past 4 months or so she has gotten ALOT better with him. even if he gets in her personal space or takes something, she tells him but restrains herself.  she also enjoys that she can teach him now, and show him right from wrong.  

yes it is the kind of stress that ends up with us yelling at each other.  I was just talking to my wife today and said that I think that is impacting her and we really need to monitor ourselves and keep things calm at home.  my wife has been stressed and anxious at home (full time working mom with 2 kids will do that, no doubt), but we have to put on our game faces and act calm.  

my daughter can be very stubborn and resistive and I've found myself losing my cool with her (never spanking or any of that sort) and I've adjusted myself to just take a deep breath whenever she gets out of control.  it's amazing really, all throughout my life I've been such an easy going patient individual, but kids will find those hidden strings and just tug at them :)

so i'm hoping that alot of this can be corrected by us just turning things down a few notches at home and lessening the stress instead of adding to it.   We'll also bring up her school behaviour to her doctor to see what she thinks.  what i don't want to do is involve the school board in terms of her getting an assessment.

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134578_tn?1404951303
The school board won't get involved.  If the child's school thinks a child needs an assessment, the highest it goes it to the principal.  And if you have a child who needs an assessment, it's not like this is a permanent blot on her record or anything.  It is no fun to be told by a teacher or a principal that your child could use an assessment, but they do see lots of kids and when the behavior of a child is way out of the norm, they might suggest it to the parent.

It doesn't sound like that is quite what is happening here, though.  And a parent can always opt out if it is suggested.  You kind of sound like you think your daughter would be mainstreamed right to the Cuckoo's Nest if the school quote-unquote "gets involved," but actually they can be a great resource for you.  Best thing I ever did was get some occupational therapy recommendations from the principal of my son's school.  I wouldn't have known where to begin if I hadn't asked her who she knew.  My son was assessed by the O.T. place where I took him, and the only reason any of his records from there went to the school is because I copied them and sent them over.  They were full of excellent suggestions for the teacher on how to help him with his handwriting and such.

Anyway, you could head all of this off by handling it yourself, possibly with a suggestion from the principal about who does this kind of work with kids that they have heard is good.
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Avatar_f_tn
Try to get her help NOW. When I was a kid in kindergarten I use to cry and hate school. I had a boy teasing me a little but I cane to realise I blew the whole thing out of perspective, he only wanted to play. Anyways Ever since then I cried in school, as the years went by I had such a hard time adjusting to change. Even though everyone was nice to me I still cried and begged to go home. That followed me throughout middle and highschool. Once I hit m.s. I always missed, I became really mean because I hated being there. Btw I was a straight A student in school with no issues from my peer group. I actually became a bully. But by the end of m.s. I came around. Once h.s. was here I developed the same issue. Anxiety at its worst. I get really BAD anxiety, I'm a bit antisocial. But it happens mainly with new surroundings etc. Since I never got over how to adjust as a kid it has affected me as an adult. Well I'm barely 19 but I mean this issue has followed me. I'm scared to even get a job because I don't know anyone. Get her the help she needs now because once she hits my age its harder to even recognize the issue unless she comes and tells you. My family kinda gets the hint that I'm antisocial but they don't know how bad my anxiety etc was because I hid it so well. Try to talk to her and ask her if she simply feels scared of being away from you etc. Actions like this don't necessarily mean someones getting molested or abused.
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