Family & Parenting

Highly Sensitive Children, Shy Children, and Spanking

Highly Sensitive Children, Shy Children, and Spanking 2

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We recently went to a church event where Caroline (unfortunately) ended up being the only child present. We had every reason to expect that there would be many children there, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead we were in a home filled with about twenty adults and Caroline. She was obviously disappointed, but managed pretty well given the situation. (The presence of make your own ice cream sundaes helped!) We stayed for a short time and then left sooner than we originally expected. As we were leaving, I heard someone say something about Caroline being shy.

I confess I always struggle with feeling slightly defensive when that happens.

I kept going and didn’t say anything.  I wasn’t going to correct another adult in front of Caroline. But I really dislike it when people label children “shy” right in front of them.

I also dislike it when people label my child shy because she isn’t. If they had the opportunity to spend a little time with her in a less threatening environment, they would see that for themselves.  But because a six year old child is a bit reserved and on the quiet side while surrounded by twenty adults she doesn’t know she’s shy?

The Highly Sensitive Child

Just this morning I was reading online from the start of The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them. (I just ordered it.) It was so encouraging because it fits so well with our experiences with Caroline. In the book the author tackles the myth of shyness and how for highly sensitive children it isn’t necessarily shyness when they don’t respond as other children do. There are many other factors that can be at play.

I guess God was preparing me before I went over to Karen’s site and saw this video.  Voddie Bauchum is explaining the selfish sin of shyness, why spanking regularly is a biblical imperative, and why adults are sinning if they tell a child it is okay not to shake hands with them. Honestly, it is hard to listen to him say some of this stuff, but please take the few minutes it takes and listen to it.

There is so much that is disturbing in that video I hardly know where to begin.  But here’s two direct quotes that not only are disturbing, they aren’t even biblically accurate.

“You need to pay more attention to me than I pay to you.” (Said by the parent to the child)

“The world doesn’t revolve around you. Your world revolves around me.”  (Funny, I thought our world was supposed to revolve around Christ.)

Shyness is a Sin?

Can anyone point to the passage of Scripture where it says that being shy is a sin?  Where does it say that a child should shake hands and exchange pleasantries with any random adult who extends a hand?  I don’t remember such a place. Where does it say in Scripture that a six year old child should be eager to shake hands with any strange man who walks up to her?

My heart breaks for the sensitive children whose parents listen to this man and take it to heart. As I said in a comment on Karen’s blog, if we had followed his advice with Caroline and spanked her relentlessly until she decided she didn’t want any more… Our family relationships would be completely ruined. We spanked her a couple of times before the age of three or so. To this day (and even while typing this) I feel sick to my stomach when I think about it.

Spanking is easy. Showing you have power over a child by hitting them all day or five times before breakfast is easy. Demanding that they see you as the center of the universe is easy. But don’t be surprised when you get terrible long-term results.

The Overwhelming Benefits of Studying Your Child

Studying your child and trying to figure her out is hard work. Observing your child and asking God to give you insights into what makes her tick is hard work. Choosing to be patient and long-suffering when she acts up because she can’t verbally express what she is feeling is hard work. Looking for patterns of behavior that help you understand what impacts her the most is hard work.  But don’t be surprised when God honors your desire to love your child and lay your life down for your child and gives you a loving home full of joy.

Dear God, please protect the sweet children of the people who listen to this man.
(Edited to add: Please note that the comments include a great deal of additional content.)

Highly Sensitive Children, Shy Children, and Spanking


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  • I love shy kids. They are so pleasant. Baucham is just a stupid bully trying very hard to impress people. His arguments aren’t even clever.

  • The one year I went to the CHEC conference he was one of the main speakers. I sat through one of his sessions and was very offended by his subtle implication that someone who seeks out mental health care is in sin. He didn’t say it straight out but he sure implied it and it was offensive.

  • My older son’s teachers’ main criticism about him is that he tends to keep to himself. If he doesn’t want to do what the group is doing, he has no problem going off on his own to draw, build, or do homework. One winter semester during indoor recess, he filled a notebook with an original story and illustrations. Over the years it has bothered us to no end that an adult would see this independence as some kind of flaw. He’s not a jerk about it, he doesn’t throw a fit, become obstinent or bratty because he’s not getting his way. He’s just a nice, creative kid who welcomes alone time. He’s also a professional actor and has been working since he was 4 years old. He could never in a million years be considered shy or backward, but because he doesn’t like to play with WWE wrestling figures or take a dodgeball to the head, the teachers talk to us like he’s anti-social. I think the bottom line is that introverts really annoy extroverts, and it really gets to them when they can’t pressure the happy quiet ones into conforming.

  • I think the bottom line is that introverts really annoy extroverts, and it really gets to them when they can’t pressure the happy quiet ones into conforming.

    I. LOVE. THIS.

    He’s a happy camper and the only ones who are unhappy are the ones who can’t make him conform to their expectations.

    SO GOOD!

  • Sallie, I am so grateful to hear that you KNOW your child and have taken the time to find out who GOD gave you rather than just smashing her into a mold. I wasn’t at the party, but I find it funny that the lady said she was “shy”. She certainly didn’t say she was rude, so Caroline must have shown grace the entire time she was there. If she didn’t spend the entire time trying to be the center of attention, well good for Caroline!! She is blessed to have a mother who chooses to use love instead of labels!! Wonderful post and a great reminder to all of us to see our children as GOD sees them. Sinners in need of a Savior……kind of like their parents, yes. More importantly, Fearfully and Wonderfully made!!

  • This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a friend. She told me that she thought a friend of hers was allowing her child to wallow in sin because she was afraid of going down the drain in the bathtub. The friend was being very careful with her child’s feelings. I said that fear of going down the drain was a common fear in small children, and just part of normal development. She responded, “I knew you would say that!” Why do we withhold the same respect from our children that we demand from them?

  • I didn’t watch this but trusting in your take on it , I have always really liked the few Voddie videos I have seen, makes me wonder if they were the few good picked among many bad….? I can’t imagine spanking a child for being shy , how could it be a sin? Disrespectfulness , now I have seen that and dislike it . A shy child can be polite , and give small nod from behind Mom’s legs or some such thing , but 20 adults and no sounds like she did fine not to burst into tears and beg to go home!

  • I think everybody is getting in an uproar talking about how wrong Voddie is because he says being shy is a sin. The problem he addresses is not the shyness, though. It is deliberate disobedience by the child. If parents ask their child to say hello to someone and the child refuses, the child is disobeying. The first commandment with promise tells us to honor our father and mother that we may live a long life. Disobedience is not honor. I think there is a lot of truth in this video and parents do let their kids get away with so much because their child is naturally “shy” or “busy” or “loud,” etc.

  • Tiffany,

    I understand what you are saying. My response is that if a parent knows their small child is hesitant to shake hands with strangers, then the parent should not encourage it. I do not require Caroline to shake hands with other people. I encourage her to smile at them and acknowledge their friendliness, but I do not punish it as sin if she doesn’t. I will tell people that she prefers not to shake hands. It is not a sin for someone to be reluctant to shake hands with strangers, especially small children with men they don’t know.

    I remember a discussion we had here on this blog about introverts in the church and several people said they leave the service to go to the bathroom or come in late to the service so they don’t have to do the meet and greet thing. Are those adults sinning if they avoid shaking hands with people? After all, that’s what the leadership of the church expects of them and they’ve put themselves under the authority of those leaders. If we as adults avoid something because it makes us uncomfortable, why do we demand similar things of children?

    I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone somewhere made the brilliant observation that as parents we really should not encourage/force small children to violate their own sense of interpersonal space or reluctance regarding other people. If a child is hesitant to respond to someone and we force them to do so, we are teaching them that adults have the right to demand that children do whatever we want them to do. This sets a dangerous precedence for grooming children to be sexually and/or emotionally molested. Even small children know if they are uncomfortable with someone. No, we should not allow our children to be rude and we do not allow Caroline to be rude. But nor will I tell her that she must “obey” every adult she interacts with, even if it makes her uncomfortable. Instead, we tell her that NO ONE has the right to tell her to do ANYTHING that makes her feel funny or uncomfortable. And we tell her if anyone ever does something like that, she should immediately tell mommy and daddy.

    Children are not robots and they are each uniquely different. They have their own personalities and ways of interacting with the world. One of our joys as parents should be discovering that unique personality and helping shape it toward the image of Christ. We are stewards of their lives until they can assume control of it themselves. And being good stewards means working with who they are, not what others around them might expect of them.

  • What amazes me is that these so called celebrity pastors seem to think that just because they pastor a church and have become a popular speaker because they have a certain charisma, they are also experts on everything under the sun. Who decided that Vodie B. was an expert on child rearing? I rarely spanked my children, mostly I took priviledges away and explained why. My children were never that bad they required to be spanked 5 times before breakfast. I actually had two pretty good kids I think because we were fair with them, we had boundaries and they knew them, we all were held accountable to our sins – mom and dad and children, we talked a lot (we still do) and we had a great deal of fun and laughing in our house. My two children are grown and well adjusted adult. I say that Vodie needs to chill out.

  • My middle daughter is an introvert. It never, ever would have occurred to me to try to spank it out of her. I’m an extrovert. It WAS hard work to learn how she ticked. It WAS hard to pray and ask God for insights into her heart. Now, she has a sensitive little one of her own, so I just ordered the Highly Sensitive Child book (through your link!). Looking forward to reading it and passing it on to my daughter. Really appreciated your thoughts, Sallie.

  • I don’t like shaking hands with people, because I don’t know where their hands have been. And I usually use a bay or toddler to avoid having to shake hands. Guess I’m shy.

  • I had the same thought as Tiffany – he is not saying that being shy is a sin, which is what you implied, but it’s the disobedience that is a sin. I teach my kids that if they are with me and another adult speaks to them, they must respond. It doesn’t have to be a big hug or even a handshake, but at least say, “hi” and smile.

    “The world doesn’t revolve around you. Your world revolves around me.” If you are talking to a toddler, I would say this is not unbiblical at all. A 2 year old’s life can not revolve around Christ on his own. The only command given to children in the Bible is to obey their parents. So it is only by listening and obeying Godly parents that a young child can have a Christ-centered life.

    I completely agree with you about studying your child and figuring out why they are acting up! This is why our family gives grace when needed to a child, but we also wholeheartedly believe in spanking (not out of anger, not senseless beating, but a firm physical reminder of the importance of obedience). We teach them to listen to our voice and obey immediately, and as they grow up we help them transfer that obedience to God.

    I have listened to Voddie a lot, and his book, “Family Driven Faith” was very influential in my decision to homeschool. Anyway – the video here is just a short snippet of some things he said, and to judge his whole life and teachings based on a few sentences is not fair.

    I appreciate your love for your daughter and your desire to do what is best for your family! I just really wanted to share my thoughts on the subject.

  • Hi Lauren! Thanks for your comment and I apologize it’s taken me a few days to respond.

    I personally think that to require small children to respond to a strange adult is setting too many children up for awkward situations. I understand what you are saying about Voddie speaking about the disobedience aspect, but I think the problem starts before that. I think it starts with the parent not being sensitive to their particular child.

    Re: who their world revolves around… Listen to how Voddie says that. My husband even pointed out the anger in Voddie’s voice when he says it. There is something not right about it. Part of my concern with it also stems from the fact that Voddie and others do teach that the lives of their children revolve around their father and his vision, even to the point that grown daughters have to stay home and continue to have their lives revolve around their father. I don’t agree with that teaching and so I see this angry insistence from Voddie as troubling in more ways than one. I have never thought Caroline’s life was to revolve around me. I am a steward of her life until she can take over for herself. She belongs to Jesus and so her life should revolve around that truth – even when she was tiny.

  • Never mind that a toddler won’t even understand the phrase about their world revolving around yours . . . . and you don’t talk like that to a small child–you model concepts, and you talk simply.

    And no need for anger. None at all . . . this parenting thing is NOT some battle to be one in a day or a week or a month. It’s a relational WALK **WITH** your child of us learning to know them, and them learning to know us. And through that process, as we seek God’s face for OUR chlid(ren), God is sufficient to show us what we need to know to parent our own child. It’s good to get input at times from others, but probably most of us far too often put “others” input first and forget to seek God first.

    Once, when we young parents, having a challenging issue with one of our children, we finally went in desperation to our pastor who was considered some what of a parenting expert. He asked us questions. Had we tried this? Yes. Had we tried that? Yes. Finally he said, “I frankly do not know what to tell you, but I will pray.” Guess what?? From that point on, our child NEVER EVER repeated the same behavior again. That was always something powerful that stuck with me . . .

  • I fully agree with Karen and Sallie about this. Years ago I listened to a lot of Voddie’s stuff (yes, I have his book also), and I heard the whole message from which this clip is taken. Of course an adult, especially one the size of Baucham, can be quite intimidating to a child. But notice also that what he does in effect is bully and try to intimidate the parents too, by saying that he won’t go away till the parent disciplines his child for acting ‘shy’ or somehow forces him to comply. Even if the child had sinned – and I believe too much sin is read into normal, childish / immature behavior anyway -, how would it be ok to put such pressure on the parent to correct his child on the spot, or else you’re going to stay put in front of him till that happens?! I would say it’s the parents here who need to not be shy and put that kind of attitude (Voddie’s) in its place. Even if my child was sinning in some respect, I won’t be bullied into taking measures as someone else thinks fit, on the spot, or else…

  • Dave @ Grace for the Heart –

    I tried to contact you regarding your comment and the email I sent was not delivered. It said your mailbox was unavailable. If you would contact me with an email where I can reach you, I would like to resend the email I wrote to you. Thank you!

  • Sallie, I sent you a note through the contact form, but thought maybe I should respond here as well. The email attached to this comment will get to me. My website is being “restructured” and has some glitches still. The email goes through that site, rather than the blog (which is active).
    I look forward to hearing from you!

  • Sallie, thank you for addressing this problem. It certainly isn’t just Baucham who teaches this and I think many young people have been deeply hurt by parents trying to make them something God never intended them to be. I know I regret some of the pushing and pulling I have done as a father in this regard. I had to learn that my children were not me and were certainly not who I wanted to be. It wasn’t fair to them.

    In my perspective, the goal of Christian parenting is not to make our children conform to some standard, but to lead them to Jesus who will make of them what He wants. Our joy is in watching His creativity and their response.

  • Lauren you worry me when you say that you’give grace when needed to a child’.Christ died on the cross for us all, for our sins, not just adults. Grace is for us all all of the time not just adults. Grace is ALWAYS needed! Indeed required. Jesus never told us to spank or otherwise hurt children he actually warned us against hurting them and causing them to stumble. Hitting them will certainly cause them to stumble. He told us to become as little children so I hardly feel that He would say this if being a child was so’ bad’ ! Hitting children is far from being godly, patient and kind. Only by demonstrating God’s love, patience and grace with children can they be expected to be so themselves. Satan is an artful liar and has lied to many gullible and hard working parents making them believe that hitting their child is Biblical when nothing further is from our Father’s mind and plans. Love does not hurt. Love is patient and kind and doesn’t bring up old ‘crimes’, love never ends.

  • Ephesians 6:4 says it plainly: And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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