Isaac is 9. He is changing, more independent, more apt to challenge his mom and dad in the small ways of 9 year olds (I don't eat to do this, I don't want to eat this), and wait timidly to see how we respond to this defiance. We are semi-strict at best, so are trying out different responses. With the new expansion of his sense of self has come new fears, and suddenly Isaac, who has never really felt shy about doing new things, is almost crippled by anxiety.
For example, we have (re)-joined the Cub Scouts. We tried this in 1st grade and participated for about 10 months before we basically got bored and let it drop. We joined a new pack and are finding it a far more active and social group. At the first pack meeting, where Isaac was receiving his first badge, Isaac shut down in a way I have not seen before. He put his head down, lowered his shoulders, and put his hands up as blinders to block out the two kids sitting next to him. He mumbled responses, and refused to make eye contact even with me (eye contact has never been a problem with Isaac, at least not for the last few years). It was physically painful for me to watch, and confused the other boys.
All I could think to do was whisper to him , "Never hang your head. Always keep your chin up. The only way to get over your fear is to look it in the eye."
I don't know how helpful this was. After about 30 minutes, he finally got up and started to participate though. He was so brave. I can't imagine how hard that was for him, but I have a new appreciation, having witnessed this.
Since this meeting, there have been two other new experiences that Isaac has resisted heavily, but he has done each one, mainly because I forced him. Is this the right thing to do? One was a soccer class, one a school party. Afterwards, he told me both times that "you were right mom, it was fun", but was he just putting on a brave face? Is the stress of these social interactions more damaging then the benefits?