How can I help my cautious child?

Just like that, summer is over.  We’re home.

What felt like eternity when we boarded the plane on the 22nd June for eleven weeks in the green, green lands of home, actually sped by pretty past.  Roll forward to the 11th September and we were boarding the plane home.

And it’s like we’ve never been gone.

Qatar has embraced us all, with a fairly sweaty and dusty, hug to welcome us back to the sandpit.

Back to reality of my mum no longer cooking our tea every night, no daily glass of wine to wind down and no pork pies.

The alarms ringing at 5:30am signalling it’s time to get up, get dressed and get out.  Work, school, nursery.  All are back and the house stands quiet.

Today I picked up my son’s school report

As we left on the last day of term today was the first chance I have had to pick up my eldest’s school report from his first year in preschool.

first day of school and i didn't cry

Tearing it open in the car after I dropped him off and scanning through the various sections to see how my baby did during his first year away from me.

My heart filled with joy reading section after section, seeing how is growing up.  Noticing that the little things we do at home filter into school.  His love of show and tell.  The way he is gentle and caring with books.  What his favourite story and songs are.

I was delighted to realise that he was a joy at school, as much as he is at home, a friendly popular little boy who has none of the social anxieties that I worried myself sick over the nights leading up to school.

He loves school, and school loves him.

Yet (and there had to be a yet) he struggles still.  When presented with a new situation, a new person, or a new task he believes that he cannot do it.

And so he won’t.

My cautious child.

A lack of self confidence

We have seen it time and again with him.  When he shied away in the corner at football, barely making eye contact.  The parkrun where he was so excited, until all the other children arrived.  Swimming where he needs to have the ability to put his feet on the floor.  Riding a bike.

A fierce, determined, I CAN’T DO IT, bursting forward from him.

And I know that in time he will do all of these things.  That he needs to watch, observe and understand before joining in.  That he will transform from cautious child to being right in the middle of things in a matter of time.

cautious child

What breaks my heart is that he is so sure he is in his belief that he can’t.  The pain in the moment.

And I don’t know what to we can do to help him.

We praise, we support, we build him up.  Well done, congratulations, you can do it, look how far you’ve come when you put your mind to it.  All phrases that have sprung from our lips.

What would YOU like to try?  Would YOU like to do this?  What do YOU think?  Shall Mummy join?  Or Daddy?  We can do it together.  We’re here, we’re watching, we’re supporting.

The joy in his face, as he completes tasks he previously dismissed as impossible, is like rainbows dancing out all around him.  Soaking in the praise and the warmth.

That’s what I want to see each day.  The beaming smile.

I just need to work out the best way to help him build that confidence up.

Any tips?




  1. Emma
    September 13, 2017 / 11:19 am

    I really recommend this book. he may be a little young but its a lovely way to explain anxieties for children. My eldest is now 9 and still possesses the same traits. Its just part of his personality but having and understanding of these feelings and fears helps him to manage them.

  2. September 13, 2017 / 1:25 pm

    Oh gosh, that’s so difficult for you. My youngest is a little like this but to a much lesser degree, we just let her do things in her own time. She is sometimes a little behind other children but that’s ok with us as we know she’ll get there.

  3. September 13, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    I wish I knew – my daughter is very similar and we’re having this situation with swimming whereby She’s convinced herself she can do none of the things (even the ones she can do!) And therefore won’t try or proves herself. So far I’ve often tried to take the approach that she can’t yet – but if she tries, if she practises… remember when she couldn’t do xx but now she can.

  4. September 13, 2017 / 10:05 pm

    This isn’t really a ‘tip’. My son was exactly like this. He’d get to birthday parties then see all the other kids and just stick by me and not join in. He was desperate to go to football, then went, took one look at the place and didn’t want to go aged 3 and a bit. He was terrified TERRIFIED of swimming and kicked and screamed to the point where he almost pulled me into the pool with him aged about 4 I think. Then gradually he started coming out of himself. I tried the football a few years later. He cried then a term later settled in. I got him past the swimming fear etc and now he’s a super confident diver etc Basically, some kids just need time and honestly the best thing for them in that case is to feel they have all the time in the world (even if you’re in bits over it!). Probably not what you want to hear but as the mum of a 13, 10 and 7yo I promise they DO get there! xx

  5. September 14, 2017 / 7:41 am

    I had gone through the same situation …. and what I got recommended by other mommies is that take th kid to the park or other social activities every other day and leave them . First few days is Goni g to be clingy, but then they will probably start doing like the rest of the kids.

  6. October 6, 2017 / 10:08 am

    this was really helpful to read. my step son is super cautious, I have a baby on the way and I wonder if she’ll take after her dad too and be like her brother.

  7. November 5, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    In my humble opinion, this sometimes comes from being a perfectionist. I am trying to teach my little one that it is not bad to fail and you will never get better at things if you never try.
    Great read!

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