Parenting is complicated thing and if no careful one can be branded as a failure in parenting his or her child. It is even harder if the child is an introvert, non responsive and would rather shrug at the mention of anything.

Such children are sensitive and need a lot of care when being handled because it is either you positively or negatively impact on their lives, depending on which way you have chosen to parents them.

Rose Aacha, is a stay home mother of three. Her youngest child who is in Primary Five is always shrugging when told anything to the extent the teachers have also started complaining about his habit.

“I do not know how this habit started but all I know is he has been like that since childhood. I have tried to get it out of him but instead he becomes non responsive,” says Aacha.

She says whenever she punishes him for shrugging, the response is not positive but he goes silent and it is hard to know what he is thinking about.

She adds that this habit makes people think that he is disobedient given the fact that people associate shrugging with being ill-mannered.

The boy usually shrugs when he does not like what you are saying or asking him to do. Apart from that, he is very obedient and resilient compared to his siblings.

Understand the child
Mary G. A. Asiimwe, a counsellor at Uganda Counselling Association says a child who is a shrugger just needs more attention in order to understand them.

“No child is born behaving the way they do. Behaviour is something that is imparted in a child so even the non responsiveness and shrugging can be put off from the child’s behaviour,” says Asiimwe.

She says the best thing to do is create a personal relationship with such a child so that they can be comfortable sharing with you their thoughts and you too can be able to advise them.

She cautions parents against forcing the child into change by giving them punishments because this could instill fear instead of change in them.

She instead advises them to always take such a child to gatherings where there are age mates so that he or she can adopt their behaviour as he will be forced to communicate with them.
She says children have a better way of communicating with one another as compared to adults who think the child should do as he or she says.

Democratic parenting will help
On the other hand, Ali Male, a senior counselling psychologist at A-Z counselling and support centre says such children are introverts who need understanding if the parent is to get a clue on how to go about their behaviour.

He says in most cases such children want to do things their own way without being directed so helping them do what they want the right way could be a better alternative than forcing your ideas on them.

He also says when the child shrugs, it could be a sign that the child is going through changes and he or she is demanding for privacy, respect and confidentiality from their parents.

Such children are sensitive and if you fail to come to their level and understand them, then they may completely withdraw and keep what is bothering them to themselves.

How to handle
“It is better to brainstorm better ways of how things should be done with this child, get their opinion in all aspects instead of commanding them,” says Male.

He terms it as democratic parenting where both the parent and the child come to terms on things that have to be done harmoniously.

He further says if the child has not been behaving that way, then there could be a problem and the child is trying to cope negatively. Fast help is needed so that he or she does not end up affected and remaining that way.

“Shrugging and non responsiveness could be a communication for help and it takes a critical parent to realise that the child needs attention and a listening ear,” he says.

And then he advises the parents to watch their children’s company because shrugging could be a habit that he or she is copying from a friend.

Finally he says counselling sessions could help such a child and this can be done by the parent, relatives, friends or anyone the child trusts and is open to.