Categories
Find Us on Facebook

What to Do About a Shy Child

By Jamell Andrews

Most children experience some degree of shyness in certain social situations. For example, some young kids are naturally afraid of grownup strangers, and some are shy around kids of the opposite sex. For others, the problem can be more general; they may seem to lag behind their peers in social development, and this may cause them to have trouble making friends, which in turn causes them to fall further behind. If your child falls into this category, there are steps you can take to help her outgrow her shyness.

However, it is important to keep in mind that some children are naturally shy by temperament, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps your child entertains himself well and is quite content in solitary activities. There is nothing wrong with this. But in any event, it is important for every child to have at least a couple of friends, or else he or she may fall behind socially, and this can lead to lifelong problems. Even if your child is not a social butterfly, some social skills are necessary to get ahead in life.

Little things
One of the keys to fostering your child’s social skills is to teach her the little things that form the backbone of all polite human interaction. From very early on, you can encourage your child to say hello when she meets someone new. And if she is afraid to speak, teach her to wave. Meanwhile, teaching the basics of good manners-the pleases, thank yous, and so on-will give your child a few simple social tricks to fall back on when shyness kicks in.

Being verbal
If you have a shy child, one of the best things you can do to foster increased social skills is to talk to him often. Whenever you are together, make a point of starting a conversation about something that is going on in his life. This should help him develop social skills. But of course, even the shyest children are often quite comfortable around their parents, so make an effort to include your child in conversations involving people outside the family.

Orientation
For many people, shyness is at least partially the result of disorientation. When in a situation that they do not quite understand, shy people tend to withdraw even more than normal. Ease your child’s shyness by prepping her beforehand for all social situations you enter. When she is going to meet someone new, talk to her about who the person is and what the person looks like. If the person is nice or has any charming qualities, point this out to your child beforehand.

Scripts
Although it is nice when children are able to be spontaneous in social situations, some simply do not have the skills or comfort level to interact comfortably with new people. That is why, early in your child’s social development, it is sometimes a good idea to give him scripts. Sometimes you can literally tell him what to say, and sometimes you might simply give cues. For example, if someone asks your child how is summer is going, you might encourage your child to talk about your trip to the beach. With enough repetition, your child should eventually get the hang of things.

Do not overdo it
In general, it is not a good idea to try to change a child’s inborn personality. If your son or daughter was born with a moderate degree of shyness, there is no sense in trying to turn him or her into an outgoing person. First of all, it probably will not work. Second, there is no reason to do so. People who are not great socially often thrive in other ways. However, if your child’s shyness is creating real problems at school or in the family, you might want to mention it to your pediatrician or family doctor.

Leave a Reply