Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Why I Refuse to Call My Son "Shy"

Sometimes when he smiles and laughs, my baby ducks his head and hides his face. When we're around new people or people he doesn't see very often, he loses his baby babbles and trades his smiles for a serious expression.

People comment on his seriousness, and I've been quick to say, "He's being shy..." I've said that too many times in his almost seven months, and I refuse to say it again. 


"Shy" is a box. "Shy" is a weight. "Shy" is a negative label.

I've been labeled as shy a lot in my life, and it's never felt good. If I was afraid to speak up, and someone called me shy, the label only made it harder for me to find power in my voice. If I was afraid to make friends, the label only made it that much scarier. "Shy" made me feel uninteresting, unworthy, and unmotivated to step outside my comfort zone. "Shy" made me insecure. I still struggle with insecurity and social anxiety.

So, no, even if my baby's behavior now indicates that he shares my personality traits, I won't label him as shy. "Shy" is a lazy, one-dimensional, negative word for so much more. 

My son isn't shy.

He's thoughtful. 
He's introspective. 
He's observant. 

These are all positive things to call a person. So I'm going to shred "shy," douse it with lighter fluid, and watch it burst into flames and flicker out of my vocabulary. The rest of those words are going in my back pocket, so next time someone comments that my son is being so serious, I can smile and proudly say, "Yup, he's so observant!" 

Celebrate your kiddos. Build them up. Choose your words wisely because they have power.



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10 comments:

  1. Interesting take on the word shy. I agree very observant is a good option.

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  2. I love this. I was also called shy growing up and it's an annoying label. I get frustrated when my daughter won't interact with others because she's so dynamic and chatty when it's just us. But children (and adults) have the right to sit back and observe if that's what makes them more comfortable.

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    1. Yes! And the chattiness and smiles are reserved for the people they're most comfortable with. :)

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  3. Before I read this post, I was thinking being shy wasn't too bad, and while I still may think that, I think you described quite well how it can be negative.

    Excellent post!

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    1. Thank you! Perception of the word probably has a lot to do with a person's own experience with it too.

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  4. I love this! My son is pretty introverted already - I mean, he plays with his toys for a good half hour before and after going to sleep, and seems to really enjoy that time alone. He's fun and chatty with those he knows well, but takes a bit with strangers - and that's totally fine <3

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    1. Yes! It is absolutely fine. :) My boy needs time to warm up too.

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  5. I completely agree, I have two strong willed and determined children that are often called bossy and it drives me crazy. Their independence is a good thing. Everyone's unique characteristics are a good thing. It is what makes us unique. Keep rockin' mama! You are doing a FANTASTIC job!

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