Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Shy children: What every parent should know:

How can you help a shy child without pushing them further into a shell?
By Motherpedia
Date: September 10 2014
Tags: children, shyness,
Editor Rating:

Do you worry that your child's shyness will cause her to miss out on social opportunities? Do you wonder if his quiet demeanour around strangers is a sign of low self-esteem?

Despite common misconceptions about shy children, many are self-confident and have a solid sense of who they are. For example, if your child makes eye contact, is polite and seems happy with himself, chances are he is perfectly fine. 

Shyness is only a serious issue if your child doesn't make eye contact, has behavioural problems, or feels painfully uncomfortable in the presence of other people.

If this is the case, it is appropriate to work with your son or daughter to help them feel more comfortable in social situations.

However, in your efforts to reduce your child's shyness you must be careful not to cause her to become even more withdrawn and reserved. 

The following are some suggestions regarding how to help a shy child without pushing them further into a shell:

1. Don't force her to say hello

If your child refuses to say hello to a stranger to whom she has just been introduced, don't scold her or force her to be friendly. Remember, just because you are comfortable with someone doesn't mean that she should be. 

Besides, a certain amount of caution toward strangers is healthy. Instead, try to create a safe environment that allows her the necessary time to get to know others before she is forced to interact beyond her comfort level.

2. Avoid labeling him

Labeling your child as "shy" can have negative connotations. As a result, he may begin to feel insecure and become even more shy and withdrawn around others. 

Instead, turn it into a positive quality. For example, you could say, "He's the strong silent type" or "She's not a chatterbox, but she speaks up when it matters." Let your child know that you are proud of him and that you accept him for who he is.

3. Don't put her on the spot

Despite how proud you may be of your child, forcing her to perform or share her talents without warning can be terrifying, especially if she is uncomfortable in front of others.  Always ask her permission before you volunteer on her behalf and if she says no respect her decision.

4. Be patient and listen when he speaks

An extroverted parent can sometimes make it difficult for their reserved child get a word in. Listen to your child and don't interrupt! Be patient and allow him to express himself in his own way and at his own pace.

By giving your child the time to formulate his thoughts into words, you may even see him become more communicative and open with you. Sometimes shy or reserved children just need more time and some quiet to gather their thoughts before they speak.

Allow your child to grow and express herself at her own pace. With your patience and love, she will learn the skills she needs to successfully navigate social situations on her own terms.

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