Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shy? He is Not.

Those who know my boys often tell me how different they are. They do have fairly different temperaments and personalities, though both can be considered precocious and academically advanced for their age.

In the recent years, I have noticed how M is becoming more of an introvert. He is very empathic and highly sensitive, while Chip is more sociable and not more sensitive than a typical 5 years old.

Though M gets along well with many kids, I am convinced he finds it a little challenging to find friends who have similar interests or at same wavelength as him. I am sure this has something to do with his personality and perhaps social skills as well.

To begin with, because M reads widely and beyond his age and has preference for toys and hobbies that are meant for older kids, most kids his age can’t really appreciate what he says or shares his interests.

When he was in Kindy 2, his best friend was another kid who had similar interests in submarines and were able to discuss technical details in depth, which most typical K2 kids aren’t keen on.

Just because he was not chatty like other boys and didn't appear enthusiastic enough to join in the 'exciting' discussions about Ben 10 and other TV programmes, his kindy teacher raised a red flag and suggested he didn't know how to fit in, was shy and perhaps lacking social skills.

At first, I wondered if the teacher could be right. But the slightly rebellious and individualistic side me threatened to challenge her: what is so good about fitting in and what's wrong with not wanting to discuss Ben 10 and those duh TV programmes anyway? But, I held my tongue anyway.

A year later, we heard almost similar remarks from his Primary 1 teacher during the Parent-Teacher-Meeting in Nov. We took her comments with a pinch of salt after discussing with M. After all, if M was happy with going to school, felt he had friends to talk to and play with, it should be good enough.

Nevertheless, we still tried to nudge M towards making more friends and give pointers on social skills. Taught him how to open conversations with others, and how to join in a discussion etc. He appears popular in school and doesn't seem unhappy about his small circle of friends. Perhaps he just doesn't feel the need to be super chatty or to be always 'gossiping' about other kids in class.

More importantly, I want to consider the possibility that my boy may very well be an introvert and if he is happy being one, there is nothing wrong with that. There is no need to push him to be an extrovert, just because far more people consider it to be the superior personality trait. Enough light has been shed in recent years on the Power of Introverts and Why Introverts can be great leaders ... etc..

As for the social skills and handling of interpersonal relationships, there is a always room for improvement. But then again, my boy is only 7.





6 comments:

Homeschool @ sg said...

I admire your confidence in your son and how you don't let the teachers remarks change your opinion about him. Perhaps M is one of the highly intelligent being. I read that this group of people tend to appear poor in social setting but the truth is they see things very differently or have very different interest that's why they don't readily join in social groups.

While im quite sure sonshine doesn't belong to the advanced group, he does have similar reviews as M from his teachers. I can relate to some of the things you wrote. Although, i think sonshine is 'worse', as in he doesn't talk to anyone in his class! Unlike you, i am somewhat crumbling. BUt your post gave me some sort of a strength and it makes me question if i should take it all with a pinch of salt. After all, we know our kids best, no?

Evelyn said...

What a coincidence! I just spotted the Susan Cain vid on my friend's blog post (on introverts).

(http://thekartchronicles.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/susan-cain-the-power-of-introverts-youtube/)

I wasn't planning to watch it so soon, but I guess this is a sign that I should! :)

Domesticgoddess said...

Homeschool@ SG, I tend to probe further and not just take their comments at face value, before I decide if the teachers' comments are sweeping statements, biased or based on some good observations. I don't believe just putting a child in a social setting, he will learn how to socialise and make friends naturally. That is a misconception. Social skills, like all other skills, can be taught and learnt. :>

Domesticgoddess said...

Evelyn, this is a good video and a hot topic for the past few months. My interest was first piqued when I read the article on Times magazine http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2105432,00.html a few months ago.

suz said...

I think as long as he has friends, he's fine! We aren't all social butterflies. It's more important that he is a sweet, caring, empathetic young man. :-)

Domesticgoddess said...

Oh yes, it is certainly important that M continues to be a sweet, caring and empathic boy. As long as he seems happy enough, we aren't concerned. But if and when we see that he needs some pointers to improve his social skills, we will offer the guidance too.

While we are not expecting the kids to be social butterflies, it doesn't hurt to acquire excellent interpersonal and social skills. I believe one can be sweet and caring and still be a confident, sociable person. These traits need not be mutually exclusive.

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