Are shy children born or made? That's something I think about a lot with my daughter, whose natural timid temperament is not aided any by her learning disabilities, language delays, and lack of social understanding.
Should I push her not to shrink from stressful situations, hoping that through experience and exposure she will make her way out of her shell? Or teach her to be happy as a shell-dwelling creature, at peace with herself and available to those special enough to get to know her?
As her shyness shades into anxiety and stress and obsessiveness, I feel a lot of pressure about doing the right thing, and a lot of wondering whether I'm wrong. And now here comes a new study to provide me with ... well, not much help, actually.
According to a Reuters report, researchers at the University of Maryland found that there is indeed a "shy gene," and that people who have a pair of them are more likely to be socially withdrawn. However, once you get past that genetic code, moms, it's all on us. Quality of parenting made a difference as to whether kids with the double-shy combination actually became wallflowers, and mothers who had a high degree of social support themselves were found to parent in ways that made their children more outgoing instead of less. When moms were consumed by fear and anxiety, chances are their kids were, too.
So if I want my daughter to feel more socially supported, I should make sure I have social support myself? Hmmm. Does that mean I should talk to all the moms in the waiting room at my kids' speech therapy, instead of hiding behind a book? 'Cause really, I'm more comfortable just turning up my iPod, or maybe sitting in the car. Maybe I really am part of the problem.