Introvert Child - photo by Cinezi

Ask the Expert : Learning and Behavioral

Question:

My son is now 2.5 years old and has been attending a childcare centre in east of Singapore for almost 8 months. It was quite smooth sailing every morning when we drop him off at school. He would hugged and kiss us good bye without any difficulties. At the end of each school day, I would ask about his daily activities and he seemed to enjoy school all this time except that we heard the teacher says he doesn’t like to play with his peers (He is the only child at home).

I heard from his teacher that my boy doesn’t like other children touching him and would cry everytime they try to go near. This sometimes make it worse as other children will try ways to get near him so as to provoke him. I tried to ask him to bring sweets to share with his friend so as to bring the bond closer but this doesn’t seem to help.

Even this is it, he would still play alongside with the same toys but just not with them. But for the past week, he has been reluctant to go to school, not even wanting to step out of his bed, and says that he does not want to go at all.

His teacher says that he does not want to engage in any activities at all and will only sit in a corner to watch. His teacher told me that she also see a sudden change in behavior and cannot conclude what is happening too. This morning struggle only happen since Tuesday and has been like this for the past 3 days.

Can you please advise how can I overcome this problem and let my child enjoy his day at school?

Answer:

The problem may not be with your child. Have you asked the teachers how are they handling the situation when he is not mingling with his peers? And when they say they see a sudden change of behavior, what kind of change is it? Is it for the better or for the worse? And how do the teachers and the principal handle it when his friends provoke him?

Playing alone by themselves but watching others play from afar is a common practice for toddlers. They will tend to watch their peers play and once they realise their peers are having fun playing together, they will soon join in. They need their time and space, especially if they are the only child in their family. They do not know what is it like yet to play with other children. And pushing or compelling them to join the crowd too soon will only result in them shunning themselves away further.

I believe a series of events should have taken place at school for your child to react now of all times instead of reacting like this when he began school so its hard for me to conclude this as a case of separation anxiety. However, for a benefit of doubt, I strongly recommend you to have a talk with the principal and teachers and ask them the above mentioned questions to get a more vivid picture of what really happened.

Remember that your child is only 2.5 years and may not be verbal enough to tell you what exactly happened. Maybe when other children get near him, he is afraid they might hurt him, but why the fear? Did something like that happen before to trigger the fear in him?

So i think the best way to rectify this situation is to have a very elaborate chat with the teachers and principals. And then try to slowly talk to your child into going to school. Speak to the teachers to see if you can sit in for a an hour or so everyday for just a couple of days to observe how he is coping. And alternative plan B, if this measure does not work out is maybe to change his school and see if the same problems persists there.

If yet the situation persists despite your efforts, instead of blaming yourself or your child, the next thing you can do is visit a child psychologist who will be able to assist personally in dealing with your child’s introvert behavior.

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About the Author
Ms Sachi is part of Team NYM. She is presently reading her honours in Child Psychology, graded to support her present experience in Early Childhood Education and she further plans to secure it by pursuing a Certificate or Diploma in Early Childhood.