The Fine Line Between Shy and Rude

My mother tells stories of my older brother and how shy he was as a child. He used to hide under her skirt when they’d go to the store. He’d cling to her leg when they visited her friends. He was more content to sit at her feet with a toy than he would be to run off and play with the other children. My middle child seems to be falling into a similar pattern.

Most people will tell you – most people who really know my son – that my first grader is nothing close to being shy. He’s the kid who would build model cities in his classroom and then explain to all his classmates every detail of his work. He’s the same boy who demands I roll the window down in the car so he can scream at people in the next car not to smoke.

Yet, when my first grader first encounters people he doesn’t know, he often dives to hide behind or under the nearest object. With a new babysitter – he might hide under the table, for example. Today, he came to my office for the last 15 minutes of work. He refused to look any one of my coworkers in the eye. He would not say hello. He walked past them and kept asking questions about this and that. I told him he was being rude and that he needed to at least say, “Hello.”

When we got in the car to drive home, I asked him why he wouldn’t talk to my friends at work. He said, “I’m shy!” I explained, again, the fine line between being shy and being rude. I told him he can say hello and then go hide if he needs to.

My big brother managed to conquer his shyness issues and I doubt anyone who knows him today would ever think he’d struggled with it. Like I said before, my boy is nowhere near shy once he’s met you. In fact, his kindergarten teachers last year said they had a hard time getting him to shut up!

How do you get your kids to get past shy behavior and make a proper introduction?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miranda
    Oct 18, 2012 @ 22:38:02

    My 7yo refused to shake a hand that was given to her to shake. She used the excuse she is shy… I know she’s always been uncomfortable meeting new people or even seeing people she knows in places she wouldn’t normally see them. But I drew the line at blatent “no I’m not going to shake your hand” (she wasn’t even polite with a no thank you, I probably would have been fine with a ‘no thank you’)then continues to tell how excited she was to finally be able to see her brothers preschool. I’ll be checking back the comments to see suggestions…they probably just have to learn the social norms if what’s acceptable and what is not. ahh life as a mom the good, the bad and the rude.


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