Raising a confident introverted child

Charni is raising her introverted daughter to be socially confident with acceptance and understanding.

Charni is raising her introverted daughter to be socially confident with acceptance and understanding.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am an introvert (see previous post for the true meaning of the term). In writing about it, I realised that my daughter is also an introvert, and my son an extrovert. He always wanted my attention, company or for me to sit and watch what he was doing and comment. My daughter has always been happy in her own space, could entertain herself for ages, she was fine as long as she knew I was around.

In social situations this came across differently. I have always gotten cross when people labelled my daughter as shy. When meeting a strange adult that I knew but she didn’t, she would stand next to me, look down and not say a word. People would smile at me and say “oh she’s shy” I would say clearly, “No, she is not shy, she is choosing not to speak until she knows you and feels comfortable”. I got quite a few shocked faces at that! I personally think “shy” is a damaging label, especially, as in this case, it wasn’t true. Why do I think it is a damaging label? Well, if a child is told often enough they are shy, they will view themselves as that and behave to confirm that label. It also gives them a reason not to engage in public, as they can say to themselves “I can’t talk to that person, I am shy”. It would be better to work on getting a child to feel confident in public, regardless of whether they are an introvert or extrovert.

Susan Cain, acclaimed author and expert on introverts, agrees that introverted children have their own quiet strength. My daughter just didn’t like talking to people if she didn’t know them. She also used to be hesitant to speak up in front of a group, but one-on-one she talked non-stop.

She is now quite confident socially, and in front of a group, and I aim to have that continue.

How have we achieved this?

This is what worked/is working for us and is not intended to fit all kids, as my daughter has a few characteristics that are also commonly found in kids on the autism spectrum, such as: she does not make eye contact if she is not interested, can’t see the point in social niceties and has to make a real effort to remember to say hello or reply when spoken to, has certain routines that need to be completed before she can go on with the next etc. (By the way, I had her assessed for social skills, spectrum behaviours and school readiness, and the result confirmed what I thought – she is fine, just an introvert and a unique quirky person.)

1. Understand how they think and what motivates them.

I know that my daughter needs time to be by herself to recharge. I also understand that her priorities are not the same as mine. I think it is important to put your shoes on and leave the house to get somewhere on time, she thinks it is important to finish colouring in her picture. Me telling her why she has to stop and do what I am asking does not work, as she doesn’t see what it has to do with her (the “why”). So if I put it in a way that she can see the benefit, she is much more likely to cooperate. “By leaving the house on time, you be in time to do *insert fun thing here*”. Plus I can give her plenty of warning of when a change is about to take place. “In 5 minutes, it will be time to finish colouring and put your shoes on”, “Last minute before it’s time to put your pencil down” or “what part of the picture are you going to stop, and come back and do later?” On the flip side, this means she is very focused and tenacious in achieving a goal.

2. No pressure to socialise

Instead of foisting her into a large group of people and expecting her to just “get used to it”, I found a place where she felt there were fun things to do, which also had a group of kids. We had a fantastic Kindergarten, and she had seen her brother go there for two years before it was her turn for 3-year-old Kinder, so she was confident to start 4 year-old Kinder. The teachers understood her, and didn’t pressure to join the other kids, simply praised her for any interaction or cooperative play with others. After 6 months, she was starting to do activities where other kids were, and by the end of the year she was fully interacting in social and creative play situations.

3. Acceptance for who she is and her strengths, teach others how to treat her.

She did not speak up in mat time at Kindergarten, and while the teachers gave her opportunities, they quickly moved on if she did not participate. On starting school, I gave a detailed behaviour description with strategies to the Prep teacher. At first she was very hesitant, played by herself on the playground or only with a couple of the girls she knew from Kindergarten, or looked for her brother. She was the target for some bullying, which was quickly addressed and the whole class taught about what was acceptable behavior. Once she became familiar with the routine and learnt what the expectations were, she started speaking more. By the middle of the year she was speaking up in front of the class and regularly played with all the kids.

4. Give her time away from others to recharge.

My introverted daughter has her own "recharge space"

My introverted daughter has her own “recharge space”

When she comes from school, or on a weekend and especially at the beginning of school holidays, she does not really want to socialise. Arranging a play-date at the beginning of the holidays does not go down well, or if we do, it needs to be with people who know she sometimes likes to play by herself until she is ready to interact.

5. Give her a space to do alone activities

I recently repainted and rearranged her room, and set up a craft/drawing table just her size, just for her, with all her pencils and colouring books in reach. She loves it and it gives her a needed “head-space” place.

So, as the years pass, I watch my daughter blossom and become more and more socially confident. She is now confident enough now to get up in front of the school to accept an award. And at dinner last week she asked if I could belly dance at assembly, with the proviso that she can come up with me, in a nice costume and do the moves she knows too. Shy? I don’t think so!

 

 

I’m “All About the Bass” too!

Meghan Trainor and her song "All about that bass" is catchy and has a great message.

Meghan Trainor and her song “All about that bass” is catchy and has a great message.

I have just heard a really catchy song that I just can’t get out of my head: it’s “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. So I, like millions of others (9 million and counting), checked out the YouTube video, and now I have cute Katy Perry-esque visuals to go with the catchy tune! Her message is what I have been saying all along. Your size is perfect how you are today, so rejoice! (And focus on fitness and fun instead, like maybe through belly dance, nope not biased at all!).

 

So I decided to do some research on Meghan, and found a couple of interviews. Turns out she was a song writer for other artists, wrote this song for fun and was encouraged to sing it herself. The girl who lived by the beach but didn’t feel confident enough to wear bathers is now empowering people to think positively about their shape. She says to stop photoshopping and idealising the stick figure Barbie shape.

She has also come under attack, why? There seems to be a few “criticism camps”:

Criticism 1: She talks about “skinny bitches” so gets accused of skinny bashing.
The truth is the full lyrics (see below) are:
“I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”

So she is really saying; I know everybody has body image issues no matter your size.

Criticism 2: She is not “fat” enough. Yep, that is the talk.

This guy has some moves!

This guy has some moves!

That no-one on her video is fat “except the obese black guy dancing” (His name is Sione from Vine). Meghan and her back up dancers are all “normal sized” with healthy proportions. She is certainly not a “size two” (scary thought) and I don’t see how this stops her from commenting on what it is like to be a woman of curves in a society which idealises skinniness. Plus, as I mentioned in my last post, their BMI is probably overweight to obese. (Which is meaningless in regards to health)

Meghan Trainor and her dancers for "All about the bass" called "not fat enough"!

Meghan Trainor and her dancers for “All about the bass” called “not fat enough”!

 

Criticism 3: Her song does not have a strong bass beat.

Size differences between the instruments show that the more "bass" and instrument, the larger and rounder it is.

Size differences between the instruments show that the more “bass” and instrument, the larger and rounder it is.

Yep, some people missed the point. Well I will admit to some confusion when I thought she was singing “all about that bass, no trouble” and was relieved when I saw from the lyrics that it is “no treble”! It’s actually a great shorthand. A bass instrument is deeper and larger than a treble – think double bass compared to a violin.

 

Full Lyrics “All About That Bass”

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble (x3)
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazines workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty beauty, just raise ’em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble (x3)
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
Hey!

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She said boys like a little more booty to hold at night
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble (x3)
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble (x3)
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass

Because you know
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble (x3)
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
‘Bout that bass, ’bout that bass
Hey, hey, ooh
You know you like this bass

If you haven’t had enough, here is a cute little behind the scenes making of the music video clip:

Older ladies are divine like wine

Donnalou and Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online agree that "older ladies are divine"!

Donnalou and Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online agree that “older ladies are divine”!

As my 40th birthday approaches, I feel very young. Yes, I know I have blogged about my grey hairs, but that has nothing to do with age. As a girl, I thought 40 was ancient. I thought I would have it all figured out, be sage and wise, I don’t think I considered “fun”. The truth is, I am in better shape and fitter now than when I was in my 20’s, (though I may weigh a few kilos more!) plus I love to be fun. I like being silly with my kids at a park, I like bouncing on the trampoline or yelling “race you to that tree!” (Then slowing my steps so the 5-year-old doesn’t get left behind!).

These older ladies show that you don't have to be young to be divine in a swimsuit!

These older ladies show that you don’t have to be young to be divine in a swimsuit!

Well, I have found a woman after my heart: Donnalou Stevens has written a wonderful song about older ladies being divine. It’s no wonder this video has gone viral as she and her friends display a great sense of fun as they joyfully horse around to this song. “My tummy ain’t tucked or liposucked, it’s a little poochy but it’s still hoochie coochie,” Stevens croons. “And if that’s the reason that you don’t love me, then maybe it’s not love.”

I have found this to be true as well when watching a belly dance performance. The mature ladies give a certain extra to their performance which comes from experience, knowledge and knowing who you are. I want to be this divine as I head into my “mid” years. Go Donnalou I’ll be keeping an eye out for you!

You run like a girl? Good for you!

Wonder Woman knew how to punch, run and kick like a girl!

Wonder Woman knew how to punch, run and kick like a girl!

I am the first to admit that I am not the most sporty of people. Throw a ball my way and I’m more likely to duck than catch it. I am not a fan of violence, so I wouldn’t know how to throw a punch. Yet, when I think about it, I took self-defence classes as a teenager, and it got me out of a potentially dangerous situation of assault, leading to the successful conviction of someone who would have been likely to repeat an attack on someone who looked vulnerable. So just because I don’t condone violence, doesn’t mean I will passively accept it.

I came across a video done by “Always”, a feminine hygiene company (why do they always have the good ones?) and it got me thinking. The topic is #likeagirl

I loved this idea. Because, yes, doing something “like a girl” normally has negative connotations. Why? I love how the young girls were the ones who didn’t buy into the social expectation, and how the older women, once they realised, were able to change their behaviour to reflect reality. My favourite? How the boy said he wasn’t talking about his sister, he was talking about girls, and the look on his face when he realised it.

Go on - run like a girl! I dare you!

Go on – run like a girl! I dare you!

Like Santa for your vagina!

Charni would like to have celebrated her first period!

Charni would like to have celebrated her first period!

I have often lamented that I didn’t find belly dance until I was at the end of my teens rather than the beginning. Hips widening, and those lovely little cherrry-sized lumps that bulge behind your nipples are not the only signs of womanhood. As a woman, we think back all misty eyed to that very momentous occasion in a young girl’s life, when she becomes a woman. Yes, that very special moment that says she has flowered, can be looked back upon fondly….. NOT! I don’t know about you, but my “special” moment happened on holidays, with extended family, at my Grandparent’s place on the Gold Coast. And I discovered the onset of this momentous occasion at…Dreamworld! I spent the whole day trying to get my Mum to one side to tell her, and kept visiting the toilets every hour to see if the toilet paper pad was holding up. I ended up telling her when we got back. It was not a moment of celebration. She was annoyed as she only had tampons, so had to go around all the aunts and cousins asking if anyone had supplies. Just a tad embarrassing for a 12-year-old. I had read books (one of which was “Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume) and pamphlets, but nothing prepared me for this public “coming out” of my womanhood!! Aaarrgh!

How was it for you?

Well I have just discovered the most marvellous, empowering and hilarious videos made by a company called HelloFlo. I introduce you the “Camp Gyno” who gets her Red Badge of Courage!

Classic!! THis had me in stitches! “LIke Santa for your vagina”!!!!

Here’s another funny video from HelloFlo about what happens if you jump the gun and announce the event too soon…

Well my point is, that it doesn’t need to be something dreaded or embarrassed about. It happens, so let’s find the fun and embrace these girls who are now joining the “Red Sisters” Club.

 

Turning smarmy to smiley

Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online had to learn how to have a confident smile while performing

Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online had to learn how to have a confident smile while performing

We have all had the odd embarrassing gig, with costume malfunctions, or music glitches or even the classic trip up getting on stage, but I wanted to share an experience which happened a few years ago involving what to do if your audience thinks you are a stripper!

I was more at the beginning of my belly dance career, and had only had a few gigs under my hip belt when I was asked to perform before a lecture on Egypt by a Museum. The audience was made up of a very eclectic mix of people; students, friends of the museum, curators, Egyptologists and fans of the genre. In particular there was one person in the audience that I actually recognised. I will keep him nameless, but I had known him since I was a baby as he was a colleague of my Father’s. As I started dancing and saw a familiar face I thought “oh good someone I know”, unfortunately it soon became clear that this man who was standing in the front and not taking his eyes off me was not looking in admiration but in sleaziness. I could feel him undressing me with his eyes and I felt very uncomfortable with the leery grin fixated on me (or more specifically, my breasts) and I didn’t know what to do. I continued dancing focussing my attention on the others of the audience a smile on my face, but he was very hard to avoid. Then something in my mind went “bugger him, this is meant to be fun and I’m not going to let him spoil it!” and I threw myself even more into the music and the moves. I started engaging with the audience and letting my face reflect what my body was doing: as in a mock look of surprise at my shimmy or an eyebrow jump at the same time as a hip or shoulder, peeking cheeky looks over my shoulder etc. Then I aimed this directly at this man and ramped up the comic aspect. As I invited the audience to enjoy it with me, so too did this man, who ended up looking at me as a human being, his posture relaxed and he started clapping with all the others and tapping a foot to the music. The beast was tamed and began to genuinely smile. I finished with a flourish, proud and relieved to have turned the situation. Now I always scan my audience and if I see a similar look, I know just what to do – make it fun, it’s hard to laugh and leer at the same time!

This article was originally published OMEDA‘s The Shimmy Newsletter Spring 2010

“Can you teach a cat to belly dance?”

Can a cat belly dance? Watch the video and find out how Charni of BellyDanceLessonsOnline.com fared with the challenge!

Can a cat belly dance? Watch the video and find out how Charni of BellyDanceLessonsOnline.com fared with the challenge!

I was talking to a friend who was doubting her ability to learn belly dance, whether that be offline or online. She told me that she was too uncoordinated. I have heard this many, many times over the 12 years or so I have been showing others the joy of belly dance for themselves. In every instance, that’s right EVERY TIME, it was not true. You see if you can walk across a room and walk between obstacles and go through a doorway, you are coordinated enough to belly dance. And even then, if you have difficulty crossing a room due to a disability, there’s a lot you can do on the spot, or even sitting down.

Most of the time, when a person believes they are uncoordinated, it is usually because at some point in their youth, they were told it by an adult or bully. That child believed it, and the adult still does.

So to make a point, I told her that ANYONE could learn. She said “What? Even a cat?” so challenge accepted! Here is the result caught on video 🙂

The secret of Shakira’s hips is out!

Shakira's hips don't lie when the music is right!

Shakira’s hips don’t lie when the music is right!

We all know that Shakira’s “hips don’t lie” but until now, we did not know what she meant! I always took it to be about body shape and enjoying the curves, however in an article published in March 2014 by Women’s Health Magazine with Shakira on the cover, she reveals the true secret behind the lyrics: It’s all in the music. She says that when she is in the studio recording, she knows when a song isn’t right or finished if her hips aren’t moving, in other words – she is not feeling it in her body. When her hips start to move along with the music, then she knows it is ready. (read more on what she says)

I am often telling women to listen to their bodies when dancing and to get the brain out of the way. Often a move is over-analysed and critiqued. Shut the thoughts off (especially the negative ones) and let your body feel the music and the rhythm will flow. The hips don’t lie!

Watch her feel the music live on stage!

Is it impossible?

I get students telling me that they are completely uncoordinated and could “never” belly dance. They feel it is “impossible” for them because they have a pre-conceived (and often inaccurate) idea of firstly what it is to belly dance, and secondly what they are capable of. Nobody can start something and be fantastic at it straight away! It takes time to get the skills and build them up until you feel confident. Women particularly, are very hard on themselves and I can see when they start to think too much or having negative thoughts – because it reflects on their dancing, posture and the way they move. Often this stems from a time when they were young when someone called them ‘uncordinated’ or ‘clumsy’ and that formed a part of their self-belief or how they picture themselves.

This is all untrue! All you need are a few basic things:
1. a willingness to give it a go even if you don’t get it right
2. patience
3. the right teacher

Then the “impossible” becomes “I’m possible”!!

Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online agrees that Audrey Hepburn, while being a very classy lady is absolutly spot on when she says "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!"

Charni from Belly Dance Lessons Online agrees that Audrey Hepburn, while being a very classy lady is absolutly spot on when she says “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”

 

“Stop, stop, stop all the dancing”

I have come across this video which is called “Stop stop stop” by The Hollies, first released in 1966. It’s all about them watching a belly dancer perform…

“See the girl with cymbals on her fingers
Entering through the door
Ruby glistening from her naval
Shimmering around the floor”

They go on to say it is all too much and they need time to breathe. At one point the singer gets too close to the dancer (in fact gets a hold of her) and is kicked out the door. So much wrong yet right at the same time! The version below is performed by “Boiled in Lead” complete with animation.