Shyness in the child is a common concern for many parents. Shyness is a normal response to what a child perceives as scary or overwhelming. These situations most often occur when there is any social interaction or in a new social setting. Children who appear shy tend to:
- Look at the ground around unfamiliar people
- Not speak voluntarily in a social situation
- Watch but not join other children in play
However, Occasional shyness is normal and very much appropriate adaptive response that most children will experience as a normal part of their development. But in some cases, shyness can be extreme and this is what can cause parents to worry. Extreme shyness can make it difficult for children to develop appropriate social interactions and friendships.
The following are some easy strategies you can use, at home, to help your child overcome shyness:
Don’t label your child as Shy
Don’t discuss or talk about their shy behavior when they are at home. Even if they are not reaching to your sound, it is recommended not to talk about it. You believe in them that “they are no shyer anymore” is the first step towards eradicating this trait from them. If during social interaction or social gatherings, it is required then try explaining to others that your child is slow to warm up to others but do your best to not label the behavior as shy or reserved or introvert.
Support your child’s social confidence
We often do the opposite of what is required. So instead of putting efforts in making him vocal in public, try not pushing him or her into uncomfortable social situations quickly, or without warning. Start with small groups or well-controlled social situations. It helps to role-play before any social event that might trigger shyness.
Empathize with your child’s behavior and avoid shaming.
Shaming can spoil it to the worst as shaming can further create an inferiority complex and feeling og guilt in the child. So instead, empathize with the child. For instance, try sharing time in your childhood where you can remember feeling shy, explain the emotions behind those feelings. Encourage your child to use their own words to describe their feelings.
Be responsive to their needs.
Listening is another best tool that can cure much negativity inside our minds. So listen to them and make them listen to your stories too. Such small events in our lives can be a big reason for confidence in our child.
Model confident behavior with others
Be friendly towards strangers in supervised settings and model a relaxed attitude about social interactions of all kinds. Teach your child not to be afraid of all strangers, focus instead on teaching your child to stay with an adult that is responsible for their care (e.g. parent, teacher, or babysitter).
Teach your child social skills.
This can be as simple as arranging play dates or participation in playgroups. Some social skill sentences teaching can help too like “Can I play too?” When they are older, teach them social skills such as handshaking and making good eye contact when interacting with others.
Provide positive reinforcement and praise for your child.
Look for opportunities to build their self-esteem and confidence. Children who feel good about themselves tend to be more confident. So create self-awareness, never miss the chance to praise them for their small efforts and small or big achievements.
Shyness is a very common behavior that most children experience at some point in their development. It is important to remember that it can be a temporary issue with the right intervention. Please discuss any major concerns with your child’s emotional development with your pediatric provider or a counselor.