J can be the life of the party at home but will turn into a little mouse in school. This has been her way for the last couple of years or maybe we have noticed it more since that time - DB and I would love to see some of that fun, vibrant and somewhat theatrical personality she displays at home to make its way to the classroom as well. But that has yet to happen. We recently signed her up for drama class and she is having the best time of her life there.
Even with that, the mouse at school is yet to transform into something bigger and bolder. I spoke with her guidance counselor this morning and she said something that helped recalibrate my expectations about J.
Ms K said that no matter how hard you push and how hard you try as a parent, there is little you can do to change what is innately the child's personality. J may never be able to be her most natural self outside the comfort zone of home. She will benefit from us encouraging her to be more assertive, being front and center of things instead of hiding somewhere no one can see her and most importantly advocating for herself. Yes, the drama lessons will help too. She will do a little of everything that we would like for her to do but it may never be to the extent that we believe she is capable of based on what we see of her at home. This is something we as parents will learn to accept and move on.
Hearing Ms K helped me in several ways - for one thing, I will not be so quick to be disappointed with J when she struggles disproportionately (in my mind) to speak up, assert and advocate herself. More importantly, I will ask her to take on smaller challenges to build up her strength - I will continue to push as I have always done but more in the form of gentle nudges than a big shove in the direction I want her to go. I hope in time, J will have acquired the confidence to be bring that much bigger personality she has to bear upon the mouse simply because being her natural self would be more fun and relaxing.