Note: StageCoach has offered Amelia a scholarship for social media coverage, but as always, the opinions are my own.
“Would you like something to drink?” our server asked Amelia at a restaurant this summer. She turned to me and said “Chocolate milk” in a near-inaudible voice. I looked at her and said, “You are eight years old. You can ask for the chocolate milk yourself, or you won’t have any.” I guess I assumed she’d ask; instead, she drank water.
To say that I don’t know how to raise a shy child is an understatement. The concept of shyness is completely foreign to an extrovert like me. I find it hard to watch when someone speaks to Amelia and she refuses to answer. I don’t want her to appear rude, nor do I want her to be a prisoner to her shyness. It’s just that I don’t always know how to help her.
Where I’ve Gone Wrong
My recent research shows that I’ve made some rookie mistakes along the way. For one, I’ve labelled Amelia “shy” on many occasions. The label prevents her from challenging her own norms, and can discourage her from speaking up. Instead, I should have been using language like, “She takes a while to warm up to new situations.*” My second mistake is that I’m too quick to rescue her because I can’t stand the awkwardness of waiting for her to say her name when someone asks. I need to give her space to answer in her own time. I found an article that had a section called “The Mouthy Mother and the Mousy Child**” and I immediately felt sheepish. If I shut up more, she may clam up less. It has been hard for me to set aside my own ego and realize that her shyness is not about me, or how others perceive me.
What is Helping
Sure, I’ve made some mistakes, but it’s not all bad news: Amelia has really been coming out of her shell lately and I’m so relieved. As it turns out, the theatre is where Amelia finds her confidence. That’s why I was thrilled when Stagecoach came to Halifax, finding its home just down the street from us in the Bedford United Church. For three hours on Saturday mornings, Amelia sings, dances and takes drama. She is loving it! Her main hesitation was that she didn’t know anyone else who had registered, but I encouraged her to give it a chance, giving her the option to quit after a few classes if it wasn’t for her. Amelia’s hesitations were completely put to rest after her first class. The staff is so good at encouraging friendships and confidence that Amelia is fitting right in!
A welcomed side-benefit of Amelia’s “love for the theatre” is that we now have something in common. All of a sudden, she is very interested in my theatrical past and the musicals I have performed. She need not know that I was a talentless hack with no acting abilities! The fun I had and the friendships I made have lasted a lifetime and I wish the same for her.
I’m so excited to see Amelia’s talents grow while taking part in StageCoach’s program. After all, Stagecoach is an internationally-recognized organization with famed actors in their roster. Locally, the school has a very talented staff that will teach technique and hone talent. But all of this is secondary for me: my main motivation is for Amelia to find her own voice, and to have confidence in herself.
Amelia’s shyness has been a battle for both of us and I am both happy and relieved that we have found a program like Stagecoach to help her overcome it. I would describe Amelia as an introvert and I love her just the way she is. Giving Amelia the confidence to speak up will not make her an extrovert – nor is it the goal – but with any luck, it will help her be the most confident version of herself.
I will let you know how Ewan likes Stagecoach soon enough. There is a 90 minute program for ages 4-6 and you can be sure I will be registering him for the winter session when he turns 4. Although I’m confident he will enjoy it, I admit that I’m mostly excited about dropping my two kids in one easy location and having time to myself on a Saturday morning. Not to mention the sibling discount. GENIUS.
Parenting hindsight is 20/20 and I do wish I had better equipped myself to raise a shy child from the onset. It’s easy to excuse shyness as an age-related thing that will take care of itself but that doesn’t work. That said, it’s never too late to take a new direction in parenting and I like to think that Amelia and I are on the right track now. Wish us luck!
Stagecoach runs its programs in 10 week intervals. Fall registration will remain open until October 5th. For more information, please visit https://www.stagecoachschools.ca/halifax-ca