18 April 2013, by Violet Lim
When Corum was about 2+ years old and was invited to his first birthday party by his friend from nursery, hubby and I were shocked to see how shy and clinging he was. He held on to us like a koala, refused to join his friends in any activity and started crying when we tried to pry him from us. Even when he was slightly older, he would not dare to play in the playground when there were other kids around.
Some would say that it is rather common for a child to behave in the manner but looking at the other kids of his age as well as his playmates, hubby and I felt that we must help him come out of his shell and to help him build his confidence in public. Ironically, Corum is actually an extremely talkative and bubbly child at home. So much so that I call him Radio Channel Corum – he will just go on and on from the time he wakes up till the time he sleeps.
Hubby has also read somewhere that some people have a more sensitive amygdale, ie their fight or flight reflex is stronger. The good news is that it is possible to desensitize or calm our amygdale responses.
Hence the process of helping Corum to become less fearful, less shy and more confident in public began. We started to enrol him in speech and drama classes every school holiday. Initially, it was rather painful as he would cry pitifully when we left him in the classroom.
We also started to coax him to say hello to all our friends, and also to give them a hug and a kiss when it was time to say good bye.
When he was a bit older, we talked to him about the emotions he was feeling and share coping mechanisms with him. E.g. praying for courage, imagining all his classmates have red noses when giving a show and tell in class, or simply taking a deep breath and count to ten and many others.
Slowly but surely, we could see him blossom. He started to make friends more easily. He would be able to make friends with kids whom he had just met at the playground and they would start playing games together. He was also very comfortable when we dropped him off at holiday camps.
And last week, Corum made me so proud. We went to the zoo to attend an event organized by Discovery Kids – his favourite TV channel. At the end of the event, we were randomly chosen and asked if we were open to be interviewed for TV. I asked him if he would like to be interviewed. He looked unsure at first but after me asking him for the second time, he firmly nodded his head. I was surprised! In the past, he would probably have said no or squirmed or hid behind me. But I am so proud that he is now confident enough to just try and give it his best shot. I knew that he was nervous but he did very well in controlling his nervousness when answering the questions posed by the producer.
At 6+ year old this year, Corum has undoubtedly come a long way from being the little koala boy. 🙂
This experience has also reminded me that parenting is indeed a journey of patience, persistence and perseverance. And the rewards are indeed priceless. 🙂