WISDOM FOR MOMS
By nature, I’m an extrovert. Even as small child, I never had a problem walking into a classroom and making friends. Summer camp? Piece of cake. I promptly chose my bed for the week and said goodbye to my parents before they could even get a look around.
Even as a college freshman I didn’t miss the fact that I was the lone student who didn’t cry when my parents walked out that door.
So, when I had my first daughter, I was eager to get her involved in all the things I’d loved as a child: dance, drama, music and performing in front of a live audience.
That is until she refused.
She cried at every dance class and would not get on stage. My child was nothing like me! How could we be related?
As you may have guessed, I say this tongue-in-cheek. My daughter is now fourteen and the whole family is able to reflect on this time with humor. But that doesn’t mean our time of struggle has come to an end.
At the start of every school year, there are new situations that cause stress and anxiety. It has taken time for her to learn what works best – and for me to learn how I can help ease her transition into a new routine.
Sometimes others just don’t understand when I explain that she needs time away or that she won’t be joining in on the fun at youth group because it’s her ‘down day’. But that’s okay.
Not everyone will understand the life of an introvert, just as not everyone will understand my love of jumping on stage before a crowd.
As parents, there are lots of things we can do to lessen the pressure of social graces for our children, while assuring their first experience in school, church groups, sports activities or other clubs, aren’t as terrifying as their nightmares allow them to believe.
Here are a few ideas of how to help prepare your child for the first day of school and other activities.
How your child can prepare:
– Stop and Look: On your first day, look around. Who else is sitting alone or not part of a group? They might be introverted as well, and could use a friend. It’s easier to approach someone if they are alone, rather than in the pressure of a group.
– Be Prepared to Talk: Make a list of questions to ask others. It helps if these questions are related to things you are interested in, since this could springboard into more conversation. This also eases the pressure, in case there’s that dreaded silence!
– Have an extra snack: It’s easier to break the ice with food! Bring an extra snack to offer another student. They will likely respond with friendly conversation. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find you share the same favorite food!
– Common interests: Spend some time in an area of interest. Do you notice the same people at the library every day?
Maybe you both share a love of reading. Hang out with your favorite book for a few extra minutes and see if you can find something to talk about. Love sports?
Help clean up the equipment after practice and see who sticks around. They likely love that sport as much as you do!
– Memorize Scripture: There’s just no way to avoid that nervous tingle in the bottom of your belly – even extroverts get that!
Memorize Philippians 4:13. Each time you’re tempted to walk away, repeat this verse in your head. It will give you the strength you need to step outside your comfort zone and make new friends!
What you can do:
– Talk to the teacher/leader: Let the teacher or leader of that group know ahead of time that your student is an introvert. This will help them know how to approach your child and make things less awkward.
– Meet some of the kids before the first day of school or activity: In our age of social media, attempt to reach out to other moms and find students that will be in your child’s class or who will be attending the same activities. A get-together before the first day might be just what your child needs to gain that extra bit of confidence!
– Do a walk through: Walk through the school, visit the church youth room or swing by a sports practice with your child before he/she starts.
This will give them confidence on the first day, when they know their way around. And maybe they’ll make a new friend when they find they can give directions to someone else who has lost their way!
– Pray with your child: The most important thing you can do before the first day of any new venture is to pray with your child. Once they walk out the door, continue to lift him/her up in prayer throughout the day, and be sure to let them know you will be praying. There is no replacement for the Power of Prayer.