WHY IS MY CHILD SHY OR DEMANDING?
Many parents believe that if they give enough hugs and kisses and keep the child in close proximity to them physically that their child will feel secure. Though hugs and kisses are very important, using only these, usually increases the child's lack of confidence and feeds into a belief that he is incapable of handling life's problems. Sometimes this evidences itself through shyness or through a demanding attitude, which can lead to bullying others. Strong and consistent boundaries are really the only answer to each of these problems.
Let's start with the shy child. The problem with this child is that he or she is completely self-focused. This self-focus makes him think he has the right to be rude and unfriendly to others. Yes, there are differences in personalities and some children are more gregarious than others but every child can and should be taught to speak politely and pleasantly to those who speak to them. A kind "Hello Mrs. Smith" and adding a smile, is not too difficult for any child. This is also an action that needs to be practiced and acted out at home in preparation of meeting and greeting people. Allowing your child to hide in your clothing and refuse to be polite to others does not show your kindness to your child but instead, your unwillingness to prepare him for the world in which he must grow up.
We have all seen and heard "the demanding child" in stores. Most people feel sorry for the weak parent and wish he or she would take that brat home so we all could have a little peace. A child becomes demanding because no one is really in control and he has learned he can wear his parent down and get what he wants. So he whines, he cries, he screams, and throws himself on the floor. This may also be a result of an inattentive parent who doesn't listen to a soft request and whose attention is only focused on the child when he is throwing a fit. If you have heard a child saying "Mommy", "Mommy", "Mommy" in a store while the mother goes about her business as if she were deaf, you understand what I mean. So first of all a parent needs to pay attention to why this is occurring, take responsibility for their part, and CHANGE the situation by CHANGING THEMSELVES. Making rules will not help if the parent is inattentive or inconsistent with the rules. However, a few consistent rules can be very helpful. Remember boundaries bring security.
Here are some rules that are very effective to bring about a peaceful atmosphere if the parent is VERY CONSISTENT with them. 1) Make it known that a whining voice cannot be understood so to ask in a whining voice gets you nowhere. A pleasant voice can be understood and responded to. When a child speaks in a whining voice you must say "I'm sorry I can't understand a whining voice can you say that with a nice voice?" You will be surprised how quickly a child will change the sound of his voice. You must train yourself to recognize when your child starts to whine. This is tough if you are used to whining, but can be done with a little effort. 2) When a request has been answered with "let me think about it" to ask again brings a "no" answer automatically. If however, the parent has forgotten to give a final answer the child is allowed to ask just before leaving the store "did you make a decision on the candy?" or whatever the request had been. When "no" is the answer that must be accepted with an "OK, Mommy" and pleasant acceptance. Asking again brings a discipline as soon as possible. 3) It is also helpful to prepare your child just before entering the store concerning your expectations of his behavior. You will say, "I am going into the store to get groceries. You can help me put some in the basket. You may pick out one treat when we are all done with the groceries. If you have a bad attitude you will lose your teat and if you make a fuss you will be disciplined when we get home as well. Now let's have some fun together." Be sure to make eye contact with a stern face and smile at the end so they know you are attentive to them but really mean what you say.
When these issues are stopped at this stage, bullying is seldom a problem and can be quickly ended with similar boundaries firmly set. Focus your child on giving and serving others and they will be too busy and too proud of themselves to produce negative actions. They will be confident that they have real purpose and value in life.