Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Overcoming childhood fears

Every day a different child is appointed the helper at daycare. They help the teachers with transition times, announcing when there is five minutes left of free play, when they start circle time, etc. One of the perks of being the helper is bringing a toy from home for "Show & Share" time. M loves to bring toys to daycare but she's usually not allowed so she was always very excited to be the helper.

And then one day I asked her to pick her toy for Show & Share the next day and she said no. I didn't think much of it and carried on with our evening routine. She said no the next time and the time after that too. The Husband was away for a few days this week so M and I had lots of one-on-one time. Over dinner last night I finally got around to asking her why she didn't want do Show & Share anymore. Turns out my gregarious, fun-loving, sociable little girl is *terrified* of public speaking. "Mommy, I freeze and I don't know what to say. I'm really bad at it."

Oh. My. God. My poor baby stopped bringing in toys because she is afraid, and I totally brushed it off. For weeks. Worse still, she truly believes there is something she is bad at! Now, I realize not participating in Show & Share at daycare isn't likely to alter the course of her life, but it's a lot easier to address these fears at 4 than at 14 or 40, when a small issue can turn into a big problem. So we made a plan to boost her confidence and get her back in the Show & Share game.

1.  Flutteryshy, 2. A Pegasus pony, 3. Caring for animals

First I told her there is nothing she is bad at, there are just things she needs to practice more than others. Then we picked the toy she wanted to Show & Share the most. Surprise! It was a My Little Pony. Then we came up with three things that she wanted to say about her:
1. What is your pony's name?
2. What kind of pony is she?
3. What is her special talent?

We went over it again and again pretending I was her daycare class until she was completely comfortable with what she was going to say. Then I told her she had to do it, because the best way to get over something you're afraid of is to do it and learn it wasn't so bad after all. Now, I want to raise a confident kid as much as the next person, but I won't be cruel about it. Yes, I was going to (attempt to) make her do it, but I wasn't going to make her go it alone. I wrote down the three questions and talked to her teacher at drop off. She agreed to ask the questions if M froze up at Show & Share time and even offered to let her sit on her lap for the presentation.

How did it go? My brave little monkey did it! I'm so proud of that little girl. I asked how she felt after it was done and she said she was never going to do it again. Clearly we have more pony practice in our future...