Shy and Quiet Children

Fun filled activities and even school events which are full of enjoyment can be tough for children who shrink away from the spotlight. Many such kids are labelled as “shy.” If you can understand this term properly, maybe then you can help your child in their struggles, and encourage them to be confident and outgoing.

What is Shyness?

Shyness is often a characteristic found in young children. Shy children tend to get uncomfortable when they are forced to face multiple social interactions, and hence, avoid such situations. Kids who are shy, may act like they are annoyed by company, but they are most likely craving to be part of the fun.

For some children, shyness can be a factor which reduces as they grow up and explore the world. For others, it may remain a trait which doesn’t end even after entering adulthood.

Why do we label a shy child?

We often discuss our child’s behaviour with others, and thoughtlessly label them to be “shy.” However, as shy children often take time in getting to know people and situations, it’s better to describe your child as “slow in warming up to new people” rather than calling them shy. This is mainly because the word “shy” should be regarded as a feeling, not a label and should not cause your child to think they are different than other children of their age.

As a parent, you have to be very careful when you call your child shy in front of others. If you observe them struggling to introduce themselves to a relative, you might want to say they are “feeling” shy, instead of the stating they “are” shy.

Shy Children and Their Parents

Sometimes, the shyness factor in a child is passed on genetically. They can also acquire the trait after observing their parents. Other factors, such as dominating siblings and bullying friends can also make children feel withdrawn.

When parents get concerned and try to correct their children’s behaviour, they are often giving them signals that they don’t fit in. Instead, they should focus more on telling their kid that it’s completely normal and okay to be shy

Shyness, Do’s and Don’ts for Parents

You can practically do a lot to gently help your child against being shy. However, you have to understand that there are certain dos and don’ts of dealing with a shy, introvert child.

Do’s

  • Identify if your child is just shy or if they are struggling with some kind of personality disorder.
  • Support your children when they shrink away from strangers. Don’t force them to be too friendly.
  • Explain to others that they take time in becoming friendly with a new person.
  • Attempt to take baby steps towards helping them overcome shyness.
  • Be gentle and accept them as they are.
  • Join various children’s groups and encourage them to meet new friends.
  • Have regular teacher–parent talks to seek help in making your child confident gradually.
  • Appreciate them when they participate in conversations.

Don’ts

  • Most important one: Don’t use labels. Don’t call your child “shy” in front of others.
  • Shyness is neither good nor bad, so don’t push your child too hard.
  • Don’t over protect or encourage their shyness.
  • Don’t think that your child is not normal.
  • Don’t embarrass your child in public.
  • Don’t leave them alone too much, they might get used to isolation.
  • Don’t become hopeless, wait patiently for your child to adapt.

Participation in School

School can be a wonderful place to make your child overcome their shyness. Since children are young, their ability to pick things up is sharper than adults. So, the earlier you begin; the better.

Help Your Child Make New Friends

  • Arrange play dates for children and seek out rituals to demonstrate how being confident helps.
  • Involve your child in volunteering activities so they get to interact more.
  • Children learn a lot when they make new friends. Invite their friends over and make them comfortable by questioning their friends, and then leaving them with your child for brief periods.
  • Highlight your child’s good points in front of their friends.

Performing Social Skills

If your child watches school plays with interest, yet gets uncomfortable with performing, you will need to work on them with a certain technique. Chances are that deep down they want to perform as well, but are afraid to go in the spotlight. Know when to push and when to stop. Gently nudge them towards interacting with other people first and them see how they participate in every activity.

Interaction with Other Children and Adults

While you are carrying out interactions with other children and their parents, don’t deliberately keep your child away. You might think that you are making life easy for them, but for once, let them fight their demons and face the world.

  • Try taking them to new places with other children and seek out activities that your child loves.
  • Identify your child’s strengths and find activities that relate to their specific traits.
  • If they are having issues with public speaking, make them practice their actions in private first.
  • Music, arts, poetry and plays can all be taught gently, only if you have the time and attention your child needs.
  • Remind your kid to make eye contact with people while they speak. Also encourage them to speak in a voice that everyone can hear.
  • Avoid negative comparisons. They will hurt your child’s self-esteem.

Don’t Push Your Child to Perform

If you see a genuine fear in your child when asked to perform for a show, don’t push them to do it. Because of this method, their shyness might develop into social anxiety. Instead, you can take your child to a children’s specialist. Doctors might be able to sort things out for you with the help of therapy.

The bottom line is, let your children know it’s okay to be shy, so they feel secure and loved. At the same time, work consistently with them to beat their shyness away and enhance their confidence.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.


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