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Am I being a bad parent... by not bringing my shy child to drama classes?

Is another activity in the calendar worth the extra stress? Irish experts weigh in.

Image: Shutterstock

EACH WEEK, WE hear from a reader who can’t figure out what to do about a tricky parenting situation. To get a balanced take on the dilemma, we ask Irish parenting experts to weigh in.

From choosing whether to push toilet training to allowing a baby to ‘cry it out’, being a parent involves decision after decision – and a whole lot of questioning yourself.

This week, one mum is conflicted over not being able to bring her shy daughter to drama classes due to her already packed schedule. 

Have a parenting dilemma you’re struggling with? Let us know anonymously here and we’ll share it with our panel of experts. 

This week’s dilemma

My four-year-old daughter started school in September and we’ve developed a really good routine. She’s a happy kid, but she’s quite shy, and her teacher has suggested drama class as one possible option to help her be more social and more likely to speak up. 

However, I have two older kids at home and, to be honest, I can’t face adding another thing to my schedule. With appointments, school pick ups and everything else, each week is hectic enough. I feel so guilty that I can’t do this for her, but I just don’t have the time (or energy) for it. Am I being unreasonable by not making the effort to enrol her?

What the experts have to say… 

You’re not being unreasonable. Family life is busy and when you have more than one child, this adds to the dynamic of the day-to-day schedule of school, home and extra-curricular commitments. As a parent myself, I would say try not to get caught up in another activity. This can come at a later date for her, when there is that time. However, look at what you can do to help her at home. Create opportunities that will allow her to feel that sense of achievement. Even giving her a few responsibilities around the house will help.

Discover your daughter’s individual passions and talents with her and help her express these in a meaningful way. Even solitary activities, such as reading or crafts, can work in the same way as group activities once there is opportunity to share the work with others – whether that’s with family, neighbours or pals. The lives of shy children can be transformed when they find their niche, which allows them to perform at their best and brings them into the company of others who share their passion.

  - Aoife Lee, Parent Coach at @parentsupport

No, you’re not being unreasonable. In fact, congratulations on recognising your own needs and responding to them! In order to stay healthy and well, and to be able to support our whole families, sometimes one child has to forego something. Your daughter will have plenty of other opportunities to study drama, and plenty of other opportunities to engage in activities that might bring her out of her shell. Besides, who’s to say that her shyness needs to be ‘cured’ at all?!

 - Krysia Lynch, Maternity Care Expert at Krysia.ie.

No, I do not think you are being unreasonable. I think once you take on board what the teacher has highlighted as something your child needs extra support with and you are willing to engage with, then you don’t necessarily need to follow the teacher’s exact recommendation. There are lots of ways to work on this issue with your child. Research them and find one to suit your family’s lifestyle. You can also find ways to nurture these needs at home without stepping outside the door.

  - Deirdre Holland Hannon, Behaviour Specialist at @deehollhan.

So what’s the final tally? Is this reader being unreasonable?

Yes – 0

No – 3

Have a parenting question you want answered? Let us know anonymously in our survey here or email us on family@thejournal.ie and we’ll put it to the experts.

More: Am I being a bad parent… by using a smartphone to distract my cranky baby?

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