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How Can I Help My Shy Toddler?

Your child has her own unique personality. She may be shyer than some or more outgoing. The way you respond to her basic temperament greatly affects and influences her. Sensitive and encouraging parents can help a shy child and abusive parents can make an outgoing, lively child feel withdrawn and disconnected. To help a shy child you can:

  • Lead by example – behave in a way you would like your children to, so be polite, considerate and caring to people
  • Give her responsibilities within the family life by encouraging her to take pride in her own little jobs like folding the washing or clearing the table and this will help with her social skills
  • Be affectionate with your child as this helps her feel more open which in turn enables her to make friendships
  • Praise your child when she shows thoughtfulness and courtesy so she knows you value these social skills
  • Do not encourage or promote competition between your children
  • Love your child for her own uniqueness so that she will value herself and feel willing to share herself with others

Toddlers define themselves by their possessions. Your child thinks of herself as the girl with that house, that sister, that brother, those parents, those toys, that Wendy house so if her friend comes over and plays with that Wendy house she can feel like she is lost, what will happen if it is not hers anymore? Before her friend comes over to play have a discussion about which toys are going to be played with and which are being kept away. Do not expect her to share them all or to share her chosen toys for hours on end. You can always buy some new play dough or crayons and drawing pads as new stuff does not belong to either child. Baking cakes with you is always a good activity that they can equally get involved with.

If your child is particularly shy you can sew a button into her coat pocket and tell her that when she holds it you are thinking of her. When your child is finding it hard to cope this will soothe her. Help her with social skills by giving her some helpful strategies. Tell her what a good opening line is to start a conversation like how she can introduce herself or offering to play a game with her friend. Let her have a say in what she wears, she will most likely want to wear similar clothes to the other children as she will not want to stand out. Once your child is at nursery, ask the teacher if there are other shy children and speak to their parents. Suggest getting your kids together to play. Once your child has made one friend it will strengthen her confidence in making more friends. Always be aware of how you are affecting your child’s self esteem. Build her confidence by praising her and telling her that she is the best girl and that you love her.

By Eirian Hallinan

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