Thursday, July 7, 2016

Introversion and the strong willed child





This is a "what is going on in my personal life" sort of post. No rants and no outfit posts this time around but I should have some more fun stuff coming soon.

My baby bat, Philip started summer (day) camp this Monday. This is NOT a sleep away camp but a day camp where children go to while the parents are at work during the summer months.

I found a camp that offers a wide range of activities. They do play sports (not Philip's favourite thing to do since he is an artsy kid)  BUT they also play a lot of board games (Connect Four, Jenga, Snakes & Ladders, Sorry, etc) and they do a lot of crafts. I thought this was a perfect fit for him.

I thought I was all set until it came to the morning drop off because I completely forgot how shy, anxious, and introverted he is.

As a result, he has missed two days so far (I had to go pick him up) because he got shy, scared and flipped out. He did a full day on Monday and appeared to be happy. Tuesday, I had to get him early, Wednesday he had a field trip, therefore, lasted a whole day. When I went to go get him after work, he did not look like my kid. It looked like he was in a torture chamber and completely broke down the moment he saw me. I have seen Philip go through a period of adjustment when he started kindergarten last fall. I saw meltdowns and tantrums. I was able to deal with it. The expression on his face and how he cried in my arms yesterday will haunt me for a very long time. I kept it together but the moment he fell asleep that night, I completely broke down. Today, I had to pick him up on my lunch hour and due to Jay and I both being busy with work (I have a meeting all morning) we decided to just take him to my mom's.

I am so grateful my work has been very understanding of this and that is why I need to put my work first tomorrow.  We tried placing him with a different group (his age and younger) but he doesn't want to go. We originally felt like perhaps his current group is a little too mature for him (there are kids his age and older) but I bet he doesn't want to change his surroundings.I also don't want him in the younger group. I felt like there were not enough adults for the number of little kids (ages 3 to 6)

This leaves my husband and I confused and with a very tough decision on our shoulders:  Should we pull him out of day camp or should I encourage him to stay? Philip is a lot like me. He is not an extrovert. He prefers solitude and perhaps a day camp environment where there are lots of group activities is not the right place for him? He did seem to like to play in the water and talked about doing crafts.  I also noticed that there is A LOT of structure and leaves very little time for "free range play" which I am a big believer of and is something that Philip needs!  At least at school, he has downtime in the morning at the school daycare, recess, lunch and after school. Even the unstructured play time at the day camp has themes and guidelines!


 For now and this decision may change: Since it has not been his first full week,  I am going to give him a couple of more days of camp next week. If things don't improve, I am pulling him out. My mom graciously volunteered to spoil watch him for the summer. I am sure my niece can also help for a few days if need be. I also cancelled the last week of camp too (last week of July) since I only enrolled him for a month. I am glad I did.

I don't want to teach him that it is OK to quit because things are not going to his liking and want to encourage him out of his comfort zone. On the other hand, if I push him too much it could have some serious psychological effects. I want to help him out of his bubble not push him further inside!

Looking back at my youth, I was never a day camp kid. My mom didn't work. I do remember when I was in Brownies and I hated it. I was there for maybe 6 months until I finally quit. I remember having to go to a sleep away camp with my Brownie group and I hated that too. It wasn't only homesickness that affected me, it was sharing a room with 20 to 25+ kids AND never having personal space.  In a way, by the end of that horrible weekend, it gave me confidence in dealing with a very extroverted world. I was hoping this experience could be the same for Philip.

Fellow parents/ introverts - what are your thoughts? Am I making a wise choice? How would you or your child feel in this situation?

Thank you all for reading and I look forward to reading your comments!

Sylvie

Here are some additional resources if you stumbled upon here and are reading up on introverted kids:

http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/teaching/introverts/

http://www.quietrev.com/helping-your-quiet-child-navigate-social-settings/



24 comments:

  1. Well, I'm not a parent but I AM an introvert. I understand how it's much, much too overstimulating to be around people constantly, with no down-time, little breathers or any quiet time by yourself. I suspect this day-camp has been organized by extroverts who may not understand these needs of introverted children. Would it be a good idea to speak to them about it and see if a quiet space could be organized for introverted kids (he can't be the ONLY one there) to retreat to when they need a little space to themselves?

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    1. Thank you for the suggestion, Debra. I have mentionned many times that he is a very quiet and shy little boy. I also asked about the quiet space and they suggested the younger group. According to the camp, itbecause my kid doesnt fit the norm and is not the group, it is a maturity thing. They suggest the younger group (his age and younger) but he doesnt want to go there. I wish people wouldnt be so closed minded.

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  2. I used to be a Brownie too. I didn't like most of the girls, and most of the girls didn't like me. So, after a year, I quit.

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  3. Understanding your child's needs is so important, I speak only as a child, not as a parent, but if he doesn't want to go, let him quit, it won't do him any good. I feel so exhausted after human interaction, i cant imagine it. My mum also stayed home to take care of us so I've never had to go to a camp or anything. I don't think I'd have enjoyed it.

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    1. Thank you, Laura. I guess I just need confirmation that I am doing the right thing.

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  4. I'm pretty sure I'm some weird kind of extroverted introvert, but I don't understand what it's like to be overwhelmed by too much social interaction and such. I hated going to those sort of things as a kid too. I think Sylvie that you are doing a wonderful job at recognising his difficulties and doing what you can to alleviate them. At the same time it's great that you are still trying to encourage him to go, I think you're right about not pushing him too hard though. I'm sure he will have a great time being spoiled by his grandma :D

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  5. Hi Sylvie. As you may already know, my 7-year old son is autistic and there for he is of course at summer day camp while we work. This year camp is holding place at his own school so the enviroment is familiar. There are kids and adults he knows so this summer has been very easy going one. Last year was his 1st summer camp and in a strange enviroment so it was obviously a tough deal to handle for him. But as the days went by he got used to that place and there for summer went pretty well. If I would be in your possision I probably would see where things go a couple of days or one week max but if your son seems still sad and stressed out I would call it a quit. There could be something that bugs him that he can´t say or something. It is so wonderful that you have the possibility of spending time with grandparents! :)

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    1. Thank you for the reassurance. I think that it was what I was looking for. Thank you so much for also sharing your experiences with your son too. Much appreciated.

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  6. Hi! A lurker here. :) Love your blog! I remember leaving a sleep away camp when I was in my teens. I hated there so much I called my mum and left on the first day. Imagining I had to stay there for 5 days felt like torture. Maybe I would've started to like it if I'd stayed longer but somehow I have never regretted that decision. A friend I went together with stayed and loved it to bits.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that now that I'm an adult I understand - being an introvert doesn't make you worse or better than others. I've accepted what I am like and I don't pressure myself to be what I'm not or do things I'm not good at (like socializing with strangers or feeling comfortable in large groups). I think there comes a time when a person is ready to open up to the world, you just have to be patient. My son is only 4 weeks old and I can't give you any parenting advice. Just sharing my own experience. Sorry for the long comment! Cheers!

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    1. Congrats on the birth of your son! Thank you very much for your input, you have no idea how much I appreciate it.

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  7. As an introverted parent of a child who was slow to get sociable in his younger years (and also as one of your fans!), I think you are doing all the right things, and for the right reasons. Follow your instincts; you know your son better than anyone else, so your instincts will lead you in the right direction 99% of the time. And from what you've said, Philip does frequently tell you when he really does or does not want to do something, so maybe talking with him about it might clarify things in that area as well.

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    1. Awww Lucretia, youre not a fan. You are a friend :) that was excellent advice! Thank you my dear!

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  8. I think you have a good plan - try a little longer. If it is a disaster, let Grandma have him. Your lucky to have her as a backup. While it is nice to teach him to hang in there, it is also important to let Philip know that it is ok to walk away from something that makes him truly miserable. I should know - I dropped out of Kindergarten because I was too young and it scared me to death. I got over it later in life. Perhaps try camp again in a couple of years if it does not work out this summer.

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    1. Thank you for that tip. Your reassurance means a lot to me.

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  9. I did not like going to day camp either but I had no other choice. My parents had to work and couldn't skip even one single working day to fetch me. Somehow, I finally came to enjoy some of the activities like playing parts in a show, making stuff and drawing, relaxation...although I hated any phyiscal activity especially biking. I think he can do it too. Not socializing at a young age can be a hindrance later in life; I know what I'm talking about. It took me years to overcome social phobia. Good luck and don't worry too much!

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    1. Thanks. That is why I think exposing him to new things and removing him from his comfort zone can be a good thing

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    2. However (and I don't want to sound terrifying), try to talk to him about what happens there, be sure there's no bullying on him. The part of your post saying " It looked like he was in a torture chamber and completely broke down the moment he saw me" sounds quite worrying, but maybe it's just because it was a long, exhausting day. Maybe he can also keep a log about his days.

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    3. No you dont sound terrifying at all. In fact, that same day where he looked like he came out of a torture chamber, that was one of the first things I asked him. He said he wasnt being bullied but because he had some issues with another kid in his class at school, he was afraid of that happening. I think he still has some anxiety over that which I have found a child therapist (that reminds me she still hasnt returned my call. Maybe she is on vacation?) for him. I am chalking it up to being a long day doing all kinds of activities, being forced out of his comfort zone while being extremly shy.

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    4. I forgot to add, thank you for pointing that out! You are so sweet!

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    5. I was a bullied teen in junior high. Almost all the boys in the class called me names every day, all the time, and I was in the same class with them for 4 years! Fortunately I finally made kind-hearted, real friends and I started to feel more confident and ignore the bullies. I think your son needs the same: at least one friend who means good to him and who share some interests in common!

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    6. Sorry that you were bullied like that. Philip is OK he has two close friends he made in kindergarten. Unfortunately, they go to different day camps.

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