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Not keen on kindy

Some children may need help to settle down in kindergarten.

MY daughter will be five in July. She has just entered kindergarten. She’s very noisy and boisterous at home, and bullies her younger brother. But when she is outside, she is very shy. She refuses to talk or even answer questions.

In kindergarten, she doesn’t participate in class activities. She finds the activities overwhelming. She is reluctant to go to school and insists that I sit beside her. When the teacher takes her aside and talks to her, she is very friendly. She seems to enjoy one-to-one conversation. When I ask her why she doesn’t want to talk, she says she is shy.

How can I help her open up? I don’t want this to go on day after day. Mother of Two

Children need to believe that they can achieve what they set out to do. They also need their parents and teachers to communicate that belief to them. They learn to have a positive attitude from the adults around them.

For children to discover their strengths, they need the adults around them to value their individuality and acknowledge that they do things differently. Your daughter may have a different personality from that of your son, and she handles her fears differently from other children.

Acknowledge her for who she is. Being shy is not a sign of weakness. She may be more aware of things than other children – hence her apprehension to speak up or participate in school activities for the time being. She will not answer questions she is not ready for.

Parents and teachers can reassure children that they can succeed in their struggles by sending them positive messages about who they are and what they are doing. Helping children to do the right thing is not about correcting them when they make mistakes. They need guidance as well as emotional support for their efforts.

Your daughter has just started kindergarten. She is wary of her new school environment and the people there. As time passes, she will eventually adapt to the school routine and social circle. Her reserved behaviour may only be temporary. She will be ready in her own time.

Avoid labelling her as shy or stubborn. This may diminish her self-confidence and make her feel inadequate. With a little brother at home, she may constantly feel that she is in competition for attention and affection.

Do not make comparisons. It may make her feel unloved for who she is. She may develop low self-worth and think that she is not good enough.

Say something positive about her every day. Parenting so often involves the need to correct, to discipline and to judge. You may go through a day easily without having said anything nice to your eldest child. It is worth your while to say something nice to her. She may, in turn, do the same to her younger brother.

You may want to spend one-on-one time with your daughter. Read to her and ask her what she thinks of the story. Listen and talk with her to find out how she feels about being in school and at home.

Exchange ideas with your child on what to do in school and at home. If she has difficulty speaking up in school, do some pretend play with her. Give her a script that she can use and help her to practise her lines. As she gains confidence, she will start using her own words.

We do not always have the right answers as parents, but we have the skills to solve problems. Show your daughter various ways she can handle difficulties in school. She can learn from you how to get positive attention from her teacher and friends on a daily basis.

Children like to be praised for what they can do. If you give her encouraging words for her effort in an activity, she may feel she has succeeded because she has tried. Eventually, as she becomes more skilled and experienced, you may see startling results.

While your daughter is adjusting to life in kindergarten, do expect ups and downs along the way. Her fears and frustration in the early days will slowly disappear when she knows that you are not angry or upset with her. Stay calm and in control even when things are rough. Your daughter will appreciate your effort and understanding in helping her through this challenging time.


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