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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Anti-social

I am pretty sure she gets it from us.

This morning the husband took the girl to participate in a research study at a local University. The study involved observing the child play with a parent (in this case the father) and then observing the child play once the parent had left the room. They never got that far this morning. When the research assistant knelt down to talk to the girl about what would happen next she freaked out. It took fifteen minutes for the husband to calm her down. Fifteen minutes before she felt comfortable again. After that, he just kept playing with her. The research assistants never reminded him that he was supposed to leave the room so by the end of the time period he never had. It was either a case of incomplete research or highly insightful on how a child (my child) will react when faced with a parent leaving her alone in an unfamiliar place with two strangers.

The girl has never liked newness. She has always been slow to warm up to new routines and people. Like pre-school. It takes her a long time to feel comfortable with someone. Once she does though she will be talking your ear off and making demand left, right and centre.

Sometimes I wonder if this apprehension of new places and people is part of her personality or our parenting. One mother mentioned to me numerous times in the girl's first year that it is so important for kids to spend time with other adults away from their parents. To know that other adults can be responsible to care for them. I think she felt she was being kind by saying this. Maybe even trying to let me know that I could give myself permission to be away from my baby. But that really isn't our parenting style. I'm not comfortable leaving either of the kids with people I don't know and trust. My family, fine. Good friends, fine. Strangers, not so much.

The result is every so often, like today, I ask myself if the girl's reaction to unfamiliar situations is a result of the fact that she is almost always with us. She was with only us, family and occasionally good friends for the first two and a half years of her life. But I am comforted by the fact that she does eventually warm up to new situations. Her love of school is proof of that.

I joke that she is anti-social, but in someways the husband and I are. We received two invitations tonight, both of which we have declined. Some friends invited us to watch the Santa Claus parade with them tonight, and I did consider it seriously, but with two kids both up before 6 am who had no or only one nap the appeal of putting them to bed early overrode any parade. A holiday party invitation, which I had planned to attend, was also vetoed in order to put myself to bed early.

Are we really anti-social, the girl and I? Nah. Probably not. We just feel more comfortable in familiar situations. The husband, though, he's a whole other story. ;-)

5 comments:

  1. Aw I'm sorry that was so tough for her. I am sure it will get better the more experiences she has and the older she gets. With my first I was still working so Sophia went to daycare and we ended up being so happy with how social she was that even after I left my job with my 2nd baby I found a preschool that would take one year olds. Now my son goes too and at 18 months he LOVES it! For me it has worked well having them both be really social because I know they are comfortable with new situations and will love camps and classes and programs at teh library etc. I think witehr way it will work out! I just get to drop my kids off for someone else to play with them at a younger age ;)

    Haha we play a ton but the break is nice in the morning.

    p.s. I lost all my family calendars when my computer broke but I almost done with a totally new system for the New Year. I will let you know as soon as I post it!

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  2. I don't think your anti-social.. :)
    I'm such a sociable person but only when I get over the initial first stage of things.. (If you get me?!).
    I cope so well in familiar situations but when it comes to something I don't know or something new. I freeze into some anti-social statue!
    I'm 21 so I'm hoping there's still time for me to grow out of it!

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  3. You sound so similar to us - my son (and dh) are quite shy at times (anti-social at times too!). When they feel comfortable, each are the life of the party, but until then, much more reserved. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, though sometimes it would be easier if they were a bit more outgoing! ;)

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  4. and *big sigh* for again, I am not alone :) I think it is just childs personality - my daughter spent time with grandparents, in child care, around nurses she didn't know very well when I was in hospital and yet she hates being alone in new situations, will freak out totally. son who was never away from me settles in much more easily, as long as he knows when we will be back. I really think it is just childs personality. And children often take after their parents :)

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  5. It sounds to me that a) she's hard-wired to be a slow-warmer, b) she's at that age when lots of kids get pretty shy, c) she's very securely attached, and d) she did indeed give the researchers terrific data!

    I don't know what the study was for in particular, but there's a famous study on attachment that used pre-verbal toddlers in a similar situation. The main caregiver was to bring the child into a strange room and play for a few minutes, then leave. Then a stranger, a safe-looking one (i.e. no big, scary, dirty person) would come back in to engage the child. Then she would leave and the parent would return. The researchers watched through one-way glass and noted every tiny thing the baby did. Pretty amazing stuff.

    And so I definitely don't think she's anti-social. She's securely attached to two loving parents and is leery of strangers and new situations. Sounds like a great situation to me. I'd rather have a reticent child with new situations than one who dove in with both feet.

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