Socialising is not always a piece of cake, no matter what age you are. We’ve all felt nervous at times to talk to strangers or be left alone in a new situation. Raising your child can be faced with plenty of obstacles, and if your little one is struggling with some serious shyness, there are ways you can help. Giving them a little boost and support can go a long way, so here are a few tips and tricks for your shy child.
Why is my child shy?
Well, for starters, shyness is completely normal! When kids start socialising, they might be timid and unsure at first. For so long they had only been used to your attention and company. Suddenly, they are thrown into kindy or larger playdates and they might not have the confidence to navigate this newfound pressure on their own. If you notice that your child is clinging to your side, crying more in social situations, and generally hiding from others, they might be facing some serious shyness.
It’s important to remember that there is nothing overly wrong with being shy. They are simply learning how to make friends and need a bit more practice than others. Being bashful or timid comes from their own personal way of interacting with the world. Other than personality, it can also be due to genetics, lack of socialising, being fearful of failure, or emulating behaviour they might see in their parents.
Shyness is a tough cycle
At age three, this is a critical time for your little one to learn how to communicate, share, express emotions, and resolve arguments. When you see them being shy it might be easy to take them out of the situation to soothe them. This initiates the start of a difficult cycle to get out of. Avoiding socialising because it causes discomfort will keep them from learning these social interactions, further pushing them from becoming comfortable in new situations. On top of that, as they become shyer, other kids may feel that they are acting this way because they don’t want to make friends.
How to help them:
- If you are shy yourself, it might get passed onto your little one from their observations. Try your best to set a strong example for them by talking to new people and putting you both in new situations.
- Avoid over-comforting them. As much as you want to shield them, this will only keep them afraid of the situation.
- Encourage them to always be friendly by saying hello to anyone that says hello to them. Show them that it’s good to interact with others and polite to respond. A little practice will make it into a normal habit.
- Kindly ask others to not call your child shy. Allowing people to give your little one that label will only reinforce this identity for them. When a friend says, “Grace is so shy!” correct them by saying, “Grace takes a bit to warm up but is always happy to play after a bit of time.” Showing your child your support will make them feel more understood.
- Set up more playdates. Even though this might be the complete opposite of what they want, practice makes perfect. Avoiding playdates will keep them from growing or ever becoming more comfortable.
- Stay by their side at first. If they need your assistance at first to feel secure, you can talk with the other kids and play a few games until they start to find their bearings. Don’t stay the entire time so that you let them practice.
- Applaud brave behaviour. When they take small steps to make eye contact or play a new game with a fellow classmate, let them know they are making great progress. Verbalising their success will encourage them to keep doing it.
- Always let them know that you understand their feelings. They might be afraid to be completely vulnerable about their fears, but if you demonstrate that you understand, they can become more comfortable.
Getting over shyness is not always easy. Facing scary and unknown situations is overwhelming for everyone, so keep these tips in mind when encouraging your little one. All of your support, understanding, and guidance will get them on the right track.