I hope you will enjoy this really thoughtful article by a guest poster today! It gave me some good insight about my daughter, who can be shy in certain social situations. Enjoy, and feel free to leave a comment with your own thoughts or questions!
Children can be so cute when they are shy, but as they grow older shyness can become something other than cute. This can develop into a child who has problems adjusting socially and functioning in society. This is not something a child just is. It can be worked with and actually overcome if you follow a few tips on working with your shy child.
Tip 1 – Understand Being Shy
Don’t assume that you know what it means to be shy. Research it and come to understand it. You can’t work with it if you don’t understand what it means to be shy.
When a person is shy, they are afraid of social settings. Not all settings produce this, but unfamiliar ones are typically the most common that triggers someone’s shy behavior. Why? Because they don’t feel confident or in control. They are not on familiar ground and revert back within themselves for safety.
Being shy does not mean someone is a hermit. Some people just are shy until someone else breaks the ice. Then they are open and can enjoy themselves even with new people. Others are just shy no matter what and prefer to be only in safe and secure environments.
You need to understand how a shy person feels before you can attempt to work with them. If a child knows that you understand, they will be more willing to go along and work with you on this.
Tip 2 – Encourage Communication
A key to successfully overcoming a child’s shyness is to encourage communication. They need to feel comfortable to tell you that a situation makes them nervous or even a particular person. If you know about this going in or as soon as it happens, you can begin working with your child immediately instead of waiting until it is too late. If they do not feel good about communicating their feelings, they will bottle it up and it will only get worse.
Work on a silent communication plan, too. If you are in a social setting with kids in their sit and stand double stroller, have a code between you and your child so that they won’t be embarrassed asking for help. Maybe it is a certain hand movement, sign language, or a move of the head. Even if you are across the room, you’ll know that your child is feeling overwhelmed and needs rescuing.
Tip 3 – Be an Example
Your children are always watching what you do. They follow your every move and every word. Trust me, they hear and see about everything. Use that to your advantage. Show them that it is not scary to order food at a restaurant or say thank you to someone who opens a door to you. Show them that you can do it easily. I had to learn this on my own so I didn’t realize any of this until I was in college. It felt good. I felt in control. Let your child see how happy you can be in social situations. From my own experience, they might not become the most outgoing person, but they will be able to function much better.
Tip 4 – Be Understanding
It can be easy to get impatient with your child when you see nothing scary in a particular situation. Try to keep that back. Your child will only regress if they see you getting frustrated with them. Understand how they feel. When they are scared, don’t criticize or make fun of them. Get to a place where they feel safe and talk about it. Let them know that you are on their side.
Tip 5 – Build up Confidence
Much of what is behind being shy is a lack of confidence. Help your child build up confidence. Point out their strengths. Give them that needed foundation to face the world. They have to know what they are good at and how they can use it as the source of strength for them when they feel scared.
Tip 6 – One Step at a Time
This is not something that will happen overnight or even within a few days. This is something that will take sometimes years to overcome. Don’t give up. Take it all one step at a time. That is the only way to develop a good foundation for your child and prepare for a stronger future.
This is a guest post written by Amy Brown. Amy is an editor of Livesnet that was created to help parents find the right baby products for their child, while giving them advice on everything from pregnancy.