Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 02-18-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Page 27 of 51

Making the distinction between personality and behavior Researchers have found what many personal testimonies will confirm: most shy children, even the most painfully shy of them, are not shy adults. The progression from intro- version to extroversion does not require therapy, behavior modifica- tion, or any extraordinary measures. More often than not, it just happens. Most shy kids outgrow their shyness by their young adult years, and even those who do not outgrow it manage to cope with it reasonably well. They learn how to hide it, mostly, because they realize that shyness puts them at a disadvantage in certain situations. Yours truly is a living testimony to the transformation in question. I was socially awkward until I went to col- lege where, on a whim, I auditioned for the role of lead singer in a rock band and suddenly found myself on stage with four musicians behind me and hundreds of people in front of me. I had to cure myself of my life- long affliction, and I did. Today, as friends will attest, I am sometimes not shy to a fault. Looking back, I do not think there is anything my parents could have done to cure my childhood shyness. Both of them were outgoing people, by the way. So much for the sup- posed cause-effect influence of role models. Outgoing can raise shy, and vice versa. My social awkwardness didn't abate until I was forced to make a choice between shyness or being a campus rock star. That's a no- brainer for an 18-year-old. But this column is not really about childhood shyness. It's about the dis- tinction between a child's personality and behavior. Personality can be lik- ened to the stretched canvas surface upon which an artist begins a paint- ing. If the artist doesn't like the way his painting is progressing, he can paint over what he's done, but, mind you, the canvas surface remains as it was at the beginning – a constant. The analogy is meant to illustrate that whereas personality (the canvas surface) doesn't change, behavior (what one puts on top of the surface) can be changed. So, returning to my personal example, I forced myself to overcome shyness, but unbeknownst to even my closest friends, I'm still the same shy person. My behavior has changed, however. Who changed it? Me! Likewise, as research has found, a child comes into the world with a fairly set personality. He's more or less destined to be fundamentally shy or outgoing, patient or impul- sive, introspective or superficial. His behavior, however, can change. Sometimes, behavior change in a child has to be leveraged by people who comprehend its long-term rami- fications. So, an impulsive child can be trained to pay attention and think before he acts, but that is never going to "come naturally." Sometimes, however, behavior change – as in my case – can only be brought about by the child and won't happen until he wants something badly enough. So, going back to shyness, parents sometimes ask me what they can do to cure a child's shyness. My answer Traditional Parenting JOHN ROSEMOND See PARENTING, Page 29 28 AT HOME FEBRUARY 18-24, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE LIVING EDITION

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