A shy child poses unique parenting concerns. Not every shy child suffers from low self-confidence or esteem. It is possible your child is introverted but perfectly confident in his or her abilities and strengths. However, if your child avoids making eye contact or is noticeably anxious and uncomfortable in social situations, you may need to help your child overcome some of their shyness.
1. Determine the Cause
Children become shy and introverted for a number of reasons. Some children are prone to social anxiety, have trouble connecting with new people or have lower self-esteem. Pay attention to how your child interacts with others and have frequent conversations about how they feel in different social situations. Attentiveness and open communication will help you determine the cause of your child’s shyness. Once the cause is accurately identified, you can start to help your child get past any anxiety or insecurity.
2. Lead by Example
Parents are the greatest influences in their children’s lives. A child who has a shy or introverted parent is more likely to exhibit that kind of behavior. As your child’s primary role model, lead them by an example of outgoing confidence. Allow your shy child to see you being assertive and confident in your day to day activities. The more a shy child sees their parents standing up and being heard, the more comfortable they will be asserting themselves in their own behavior.
3. Foster Skills
Confidence in new skills and abilities contributes to a more exuberant and outgoing child. Shyness can be overcome by fostering the skills your introverted child seems passionate about. Encourage your child to take risks by attempting new activities like branching out from playing catch in the backyard to joining a local baseball team. More often than not, the next level of developing a skill involves some form of socialization with peers who have similar interests.
4. Frequent Interactions
When you go out to run errands or visit friends, bring your shy child with you as often as possible. Have your child talk to waiters, sales people, friends and neighbors while you are out together. A shy child may feel uncomfortable at first but the more he or she communicates with new people without something bad happening, the more outgoing they will become.
Shy children can be made more outgoing through the subtle development of their social skills. Encourage interactions and confidence in skills while listening and paying attention to how your child acts in social situations.
Ken West was born and raised in Houston, TX. He is the owner of a Houston area gym for kids that promotes physical activity in young children.
Cover photo by mhofstrand via Flickr.