It’s night and the clouds have created a dark night. Not a single star is in view. Then one peaks out from behind the clouds shining brightly. It stands out and you can’t help but gaze at it. That description is kind of like living in Asia (or any other country that the population mainly looks the same), but not being Asian. You stick out. People gaze at you. You are different than the majority. When a child enters the scene, all eyes turn towards the mini-version of you. That mini-version is like a comet on a clear night with lots of stars out, People don’t just gaze at it, but also marvel and point at it.
Some kids take the spotlight and perform like an actor on broadway. They dance and jump, and maybe even speak to the crowd of onlookers. Other children freeze up when the spotlight glares at them. They may cry or scream for their dad or mom. I don’t believe being born in a different country has to do with whether the child loves crowds or not. My three children were all born in Asia, yet they all respond in very different ways. One is the star, one hides, and the other is a mixture of the two. I do believe that age can play a factor, but not always. I’ve watched my child who hides behind me whenever approached begin to not do that. Instead that child will now say, Hi, and answer simple questions.
As parents, we want to protect our children, yet teach them respect. Here are a few strategies that I took with the kids were younger.
1. Grab and Run. Not literally, but the idea of taking the child quickly out of the situation. It is the times when your child(ren) are in danger or exasperated to the point of super meltdown. Young children need to feel safe and that you are going to protect them. If they are in extreme fear, this needs to happen.
2. Hide and Smile. Similar to the above, except that your child is not in danger or extremely afraid, just upset. Picking up the child and letting them hide their face gives them some space and a sense of protection. A smile from you, and maybe simply saying He/She is really shy, will let the crowd know that everything is ok.
3. Watch Them Shine. This is when your child is loving all the questions and the attention. Stand nearby and watch them entertain. Maybe they will become an actress on stage and this is their first audience!
Now that my kids are older, I expect them to be respectful of others. They are old enough to greet properly and answer simple questions. If they don’t feel like speaking, I tell them that they at least have to say Hi with a smile, and then they can walk away. I don’t expect them to perform like monkeys on stage. They know this, but they also know that I expect them to not be rude.
How do you handle these situations? How have you taught your child(ren) to respect others when they don’t want to be on “stage”?
*photo by flickr