If you were shy as a child, you know how difficult it was to make friends, join group activities, and get over that shyness. Being shy is not a terrible thing, sometimes it helps you or your children notice different things, take in more of the things going on around them, and can even help kids learn how to entertain themselves. But being shy can make life more difficult than it should be.
Some children are severely shy, making them withdraw from the world and only interact with a handful of people. This shyness can cause social and behavioral problems, this is the type of shyness you want to help your child avoid and grow away from.
While being shy is normal, there are ways to help break your child out of their shy shell and get them more comfortable talking to people, making friends, and interacting with others. Helping your kiddo to break out of their shy habits can be beneficial for them now and in the future. In a previous blog, we discussed why social interaction is important for children, improving their shyness can help improve their social interaction!
In this blog, we are going to give you tips to helping your child and improve their shy personality. If you have a shy kiddo that you want to help, read on and try these tips on your child!
Don’t Put Them on the Spot
You may think that putting them on the spot will force your kiddo to step outside their comfort zone and talk to a stranger, make a friend, or show off their special talent, but it will more likely backfire. They will recoil, avoid a potential friend all together, and may end up embarrassed and upset with you.
An article from Ask Dr. Sears suggests that rather than telling them to show their relatives their gymnastic skills in front everyone, pull them aside and say “They would love to see your handstand and cartwheel. I know you have been practicing and you have been doing so well. Would you like to show them?” This gives them a heads up and allows them to make the decision themselves. They will be more likely to show off their awesome skills if they are the one who initiates it rather then being put on the spot.
Let Them Speak For Themselves
While it may be embarrassing trying to get your child to answer a strangers question, allowing them to answer for themselves and not jumping in will help them in a few ways. First, they won’t rely on you for everything, including telling people what their name is. They will also realize that they do need to start answering for themselves and that they will face these situations in which they will have to interact with others.
When someone asks them how they are feeling, what their name is, how old they are, or what their favorite thing to do is, let them answer, even if it takes a while. Encourage them to answer. This can be as simple as saying “Do you want to tell them you name?” or “You should tell them about what you did yesterday.” Giving your children talking points can help them know what to say and allow them to say it on their own rather than expecting you to always answer for them.
While it may be awkward waiting for your child to tell a stranger their name, it is important that you don’t do it for them. It may take some time, so feel free to start up a conversation of your own with the stranger, without answering the question for your child. If your kiddo notices that you feel comfortable around the stranger, they will be more likely to feel comfortable as well and chime in with their answer. Feel free to ask your child if they are ready to tell them what their name is after a while, so they remember that they are supposed to answer the question still.
Let Them Be
If you bring your child to play at the park and there are a ton of other children there, make a simple suggestion that they try to go play with someone. Find a child that is doing your kiddo’s favorite activity at the park and point them out, then back off. Sit on the bench and watch your child play, allowing them to approach others at their own pace. An article from Psychology Today says that one of the best ways to help your shy child is to be patient. If you are always hovering or pushing them into interactions, they are unlikely to feel comfortable doing it themselves. Sit back and let them figure it out on their own. If they want to interact with someone they will do so when they feel comfortable. Like we mentioned before, forcing them into something will make matters worse.
Confidence is key when it comes to shy children. Reminding your kiddo that they had so much fun at the last birthday party they went to, will encourage them and help them go to this birthday party with confidence. An article from WebMD mentions that reinforcing your child’s behaviors and helping them realize that they had a great time once they push past their shyness can help them go into new situations feel better about everything. If you notice them talking to someone at the park and playing with them, let them know that you noticed and that you are proud of them for stepping outside their comfort zone. This will help your child be more confident and comfortable talking to someone new next time they go to the park.
Work on Social Interactions
When it comes to shy children, many parents take the liberty of answering questions, ordering, and not giving their child a chance to have social interactions. Even something as simple as having your child order for themselves can help give them an important social experience. If you or your child has a question while at the store, have them ask an employee for you. When you head to the restaurant, have them order their own meal. Allow them to answer their own questions. Invite friends over to play so that they can have more social interactions with children their age. These simple interactions can make a significant difference for a shy child.
Embrace Their Shyness
Of course you love your child no matter what, but you should make sure they know you love them just the way they are. If you make their shyness seem like a bad thing, they will be upset and feel bad every time they avoid a social interaction. While you can help them get over their shyness a bit, making them feel as though their shyness is bad and they have to get over it can make matters worse. We are all shy in certain situations, tell them about a time you were shy and how you overcame it. This will help them realize that it is not something to be ashamed of or to be embarrassed about. Embracing their shy personality will allow you to better help them as well.
Being shy is normal, but it can make social situations and life much more difficult. Teaching and helping your child at a young age to work on their shy behaviors and encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone can help them get over their shyness and benefit them the rest of their lives.
At Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center, we work hard to help your children develop and grow. We encourage play time with others, plan group activities, and work to help each and every child feel accepted and comfortable. Our programs can help your shy child feel more comfortable and confident. With our programs and your hard work, your shy kiddo can become a little social butterfly, at least more so than before! Learn more about our childhood development center and contact us today.