Shy or just reserved?

There he stood, leaning against a tree. He watched the other boys playing but didn’t approach them. I knew he wanted to, but he still held back and watched. Ea he hung out in the pool alone while the other boys dove off the diving board. It wasn’t fear of the diving board that kept Jase away. It was the awkward shyness of not knowing how to join his friend who is playing with other boys he doesn’t know or doesn’t know well.

This was the scene recently at a birthday pool party that Jase, Lexie and I attended. It was a joint celebration for Jase’s friend Aidan and for Aidan’s sister, Morgan, who is Lexie’s friend. While Lexie had no problem running off with some girls, it was Jase I knew who might struggle at the party.

Last year, his best friend Noah also came to the party, so he was fine that Aidan was hanging with his cousins who Jase doesn’t know. However, this year Noah didn’t make it to the party. This left Jase feeling very left out. I encouraged him to join the other boys who I am sure were not excluding him on purpose.

But this reserved boy has always been a worrier. He is more likely to sit back and observe before joining in. He is hesitant to join a big group and does better with one-on-one interactions in small groups. He is me.

I remember these feelings and problems from my own childhood. Even as an adult I sometimes struggle with feeling like I fit in. But even though I know what he is going through, I don’t know what to tell him to make it better. Maybe he just has to find his own way.

Three years ago, I wrote about Jase being shy and a worrier. I had hoped he would grow out of it. But it doesn’t look like that has happened.

But the funny thing is that he isn’t consistent with his shyness. He has performed in the school talent show. His teacher told me he was always participating in class and even about him dancing in front of his classmates. Of course, this was at the February parent-teacher conference, and maybe that is him half the year to feel comfortable to do those things.

At the recent pool party, he spent the first hour and a half either by himself or watching the other boys. I don’t know what happened but then all of a sudden he was with the group doing crazy dives off the diving board. I saw him talking to a boy he didn’t know and popping balloons with him. Suddenly, he was fitting in and not ready to leave when the party was over.

Maybe this is just how Jase is. Maybe he needs that time to access a situation before joining in.

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Deciding on when to get your kid a cellphone

Jase turned twelve in May and just finished elementary school. Some of his classmates already have cellphones. Jase does not.

As an elementary school student who I walk/drive to school most of the time, there was no need for him to have a phone. His extra-curricular activities (soccer and karate) were done with me in attendance. Only when he stayed after school for violin practice or tutoring did he walk by himself (or with his sister). But we are just two blocks from the school. There was no need for a phone.

But next year, Jase enters middle school. And as I understand it, most of the kids there have cellphones. Teachers send messages via the Remind app. Homework requires different apps, and students even can use their phones during class to watch videos or utilize apps as part of a class exercise.

Now cellphones are not a requirement, but they can be an asset. And as Jase hears about friends who will be getting one, he too wants a cellphone. And we are considering getting him one. But all the talk of cellphones and middle school brought up the question….

When is the right time to get your child a cellphone?

It is not really a question of age. (Some experts say 12, others say 14 and a few suggest holding out as long as you can.) It is a question of maturity and responsibility. And in my opinion, it is also a question of need.

Things to consider before getting your child a cellphone

  • Does he/she have the ability to follow home and school rules?
  • Do they show that they are responsible and won’t lose/break the phone?
  • Do they understand data charges and paying for games and other apps? And will they respect any rules you set up regarding buying these apps/games?
  • How savvy is your child about technology? Does he/she truly understand future college admission staff, employers and colleagues could see anything posted now?
  • How well do they do with limits to screen time?
  • Do your kids need to be in touch for safety reasons? (Some people don’t have a home phone or their child travel a lot due to extracurricular activities.

And while you have to make sure your child is ready for a phone, parents also need to be aware of the dangers or possible issues with giving them a phone.

Risks/Disadvantages

  • Additional charge for an extra line, texting and data package
  • There is a higher risk of online bullies. A phone increases the possibility of encountering child predators.
  • As with any device (such as tablet), gaming system (X-Box, etc.) and a computer/laptop, a phone is another attention-sucking device, which can distract from schoolwork. The main difference is that a cellphone goes with a child everywhere, including outside of parental supervision.
  • A phone can interrupt sleep patterns with late-night texting.

If you do decide to get your child a cellphone, make sure they understand your rules and the consequences for breaking them from the beginning.

Your guidelines should be clear. Things you might want to consider…

  • You need to know their passwords
  • Have the ability to limit screen/phone time
  • Set up times the phone can’t be used such as dinnertime or bedtime
  • Determine what will happen if the phone is lost or damaged (Who pays for repairs/replacement)
  •  Make sure they know you will be monitoring their social media sites (this should be done whether they have a phone or not)

If you want an actual contract to outline these agreements, check out this one that can easily be adapted to your needs.

Deciding on getting your child a phone is a decision every parent will face and the decision will be different in each situation. I think Jase shows a great deal of responsibility and know he will follow any rules we establish as he has done so already with his iPad. So come August and school gets ready to start, he will be getting his first cellphone.

Waiting for a growth spurt

Jase wasn’t a small baby. He was 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 22 inches at birth. In fact, in those first few months he was quite a chunky baby.

When he became a toddler, those pounds shed as he became active. And for those first few years, he was actually quite average, falling right at the 56% for height for his age.

But as he has grown, those percentages began dropping. And now at 12 years old, Jase is 55 inches which makes him in the 10th percentile for height. In other words, he is short. It means that out 100 boys, 90 of them will be taller than him.

His doctor said he is more the size of a 9-year-old. In fact, his 9-year-old sister is just 1 ½” shorter than he is. She is a bit on the tall side for her age but we know girls typically do grow quicker than boys before they hit puberty. Many times girls shoot up and reach their full height sooner than boys. My mom had reached her full height in the sixth grade. She towered over the boys but soon the boys started to grow, passing her. I have heard many stories of boys growing all the way up until they are 20 years old.

This gives us hope but genetics also plays a role in how tall Jase will be. There are quite a few short people in our family. My dad, brother and husband are all 5 foot 10 or shorter. But my father-in-law, brother-in-law and uncles are all tall (at least 6 feet or taller).

I am only 5’ 2”. My mom and mother-in-law are both about the same height as me. For women, this isn’t a problem. But there is a different stigma for men. Studies have shown that shorter men have lower salaries. And in studies, these men have also reported problems with dating. (I guess women don’t want to date someone as short or shorter than them.) Short men are often portrayed in movies as jealous (think Napoléon complex).

My husband has been quite worried about Jase being teased because he is short. So far that hasn’t happened. Thankfully, he was not the shortest boy in his class. We will just have to see what happens in middle school.

The good news for Jase is that he hasn’t hit puberty yet. My husband was about thirteen when he hit a big growth spurt. And this is what we hope comes for Jase. He may just be a late bloomer.

His doctor said at his next well-check appointment if falls below 5% on the growth chart or if he doesn’t grow at least 2” (he has been growing about 1 ½” a year), then she will request some tests to see if there is any problem. Or it could be that he is just a late bloomer and next summer he will shoot up. We will just have to wait and see.

Dealing with tween behavior

It has already started. I see hints of it here and there. Jase is 11-years-old. In just three months he will be 12. Yes, the tween behavior has begun to emerge. There is a hint of defiance sometimes in his voice when we tell him it is time to get off his iPad or that we need to go somewhere. He questions why he must do something or even openly says he won’t do something like try a new food.

whateverIt isn’t that I don’t want him to find his own way, which is part of growing up. I like watching him grow and change. My husband and I are all for giving him room to grow and room to make mistakes. It is our desire to have him behave decently while doing that. No eye rolling. No mellow dramatic sighs or “Whatever” or the dreaded “duh.” (Heck, I have even seen some of these behaviors in Lexie, and she turns nine next month.)

Even though I know he will soon be in Middle School, and the attitude and changes will just keep coming, I am thankful we aren’t fully there yet. But it did make me want me to do a little research on the Internet to see what to expect and some tips on how to handle it.

Tips for handling the Tween years

  • Maintain your Parental Status – Now is not the time to become your child’s close friend. He is looking to you to help him through this confusing stage.
  • Pick your battles/Draw a clear line in the sand – As always, you need to decide what is important. Focus on the behaviors you want or those you won’t tolerate and let the other issues fall to the wayside. So ignore the eye rolls and sighs but enforce the no raised voices or walking off in the middle of the conversation. And of course, be consistent in following through with punishments.
  • Reciprocate Respect – Dealing with emotional tweens or teens can be trying to say the least but remember you need to treat them as an individual with their own thoughts and feelings just as they should treat you as such.
  • Explain what you want – As always, you need to deliver a clear message about how you want your child to behave. And when you think they are behaving disrespectful, take the time to make sure they know what they are doing that is wrong. You can’t assume they know what they said or how they said it was wrong. Remember they are still learning. Tell them what they are doing is wrong and offer suggestions of how to say it more respectfully.

I did find a particularly good blog by a fellow mom. She listed five things pre-teen boys want from their moms. (And her own tween approved the list as being accurate.)

1.) They want us to be there for them but not to talk all the time. (She noted that tweens seemed to tune out adults after about 10 words when given advice.)

2.) They want to be silly.

3.) They want us to set the rules but also want some say in them. (She said when she asked her son about punishments for his misbehavior, he almost always suggested a harsher punishment.)

4.) They want to be loved, even if they don’t act like it.

5.) They want us to have their back.

I am not sure any of these tips will help, but it was interesting reading up on others’ experiences and what worked for them or what the experts recommended. I guess we will take this as with everything else that comes with raising a child, you just deal with it as it happens and expect to make mistakes.