Helping Your Child Overcome Shyness
Shyness can be painful for both parents and children. Parents however need to realize some kids are just born to be quiet and less outgoing than other children are. The key is to realize when a child’s shyness is becoming a problem that it results in problems with school and social interactions.
How to Help
For starters, do not tell a child he or she is shy, don’t call them shy. Most people who are shy, or mistaken as shy because they are quiet, do not like to be told they are. Those who are shy usually know they are and don’t need it pointed out to them, and
can resent when it is pointed out to them. Instead compliment them when they aren’t acting typically shy. Let them know you like the way they are when they are being more social and involved. Try to get them to talk about their feelings. Instead of saying, “You are acting shy,” ask how they feel about the situation they are in.
Give your child opportunities to experience social situations. Encourage your child to invite a friend or friends over or to go over to a friend’s house. Let them spend time with people they are comfortable with to build up their self-esteem and social interactions and slowly move them toward more frequent and more populated social experiences.
Children often learn by watching and imitating their parents, so be sociable and respectful yourself. Children who see their parents able to talk to others and not hide will be more apt to give it a try themselves. Don’t force a child into a situation however. Stand by them and let them adjust to their surroundings, when attending large functions and social gatherings. Give them a chance to feel comfortable while knowing they have your support.
Encourage your child to try new activities and to communicate how they feel about what they are doing. Encouraging a child to talk in situations he or she perceives as safe will help them open up in other situations by realizing there is nothing to be scared of. By letting your child try different activities and hobbies, you are giving your child subjects they can talk about with other people, and introducing them to people who have common interests.
Remember children can pick up silent signals easily. If you are nervous yourself, your child will be able to notice, and will also become nervous – more so because if a parent is worried it must be something really “bad”.
Share your experiences with your child. Let your child know you do understand how they feel. Everyone has had some moment in their life when they have been shy, nervous, or anxious, share with your child the situation you were in and how you handled it.
Finally, let your child know that being shy is NOT a character flaw. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Most situations are not as scary as your child may think. It is your job to help them understand this. Situations that make a child anxious or nervous can usually be simplified by explaining the situation to them. Let them know everything is ok and what exactly is going on and invite them to join in.
Shyness doesn’t have to be a problem. Watch your child and encourage him or her to be more outgoing.
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