We seem to live in an extrovert’s world. Could it be, though, that our world is not truly run by these extroverts? Or maybe, the quiet souls, the introverts, the ‘shy’ ones play a much larger role than any extrovert wants to give credit to?
As a parent, you question everything. You want your child to meet milestones on time, or like most parents: early. You want your child to share, play well, include others, and be the leader. You want your child to neither bully nor be bullied. Despite all of your personal quirks and qualities, you want your child to be *perfect.
*Perfection is seen differently by every individual, so this is an impossible goal to push your child toward.
Take a breath and look at this tiny being you are holding. She is already as perfect as she will ever be. Every human is different, and that is what makes this world work. It is your job as a parent to learn your child – your child’s TRUE temperament and personality, not the temperament you want your child to obtain.
A shy child tends to be uncomfortable with social interactions, typically keeping to herself or with someone of comfort to her. This can be uncomfortable and hard for a parent in some situations. The shy child tends to be secluded by choice on both her and other party’s parts. Most parents will try to push their children into overcoming this shyness, but what they fail to understand is that the temperament is a born trait, not one that is developed due to an environment. There is also a large difference between a clingy child and a shy child, as shyness will not go away.
Ok, so your child is ‘shy,’ now what?
There are several things parents can do to ensure they are benefitting their shy children, but first, the five things they need to learn:
- Realize there is nothing wrong with being shy.
- Understand that lack of confidence and shyness are not the same thing.
- Pushing a child to ‘perform’ for others does not benefit the child, it actually hurts her.
- Labeling your child as ‘shy’ (“Try not to be so shy darling!”) is like telling her not to be herself.
- If shyness bridges to anxiety, there is need to speak with your doctor.
Once those five pills have been swallowed, the rest tends to fall into place pretty easy. Here
Let your child ‘warm-up’ to social interactions:
Talk about what the plans are for the day, arrive early and start small. Bring something familiar that your child may like to share with others.
Meet your child’s needs:
Nurture that baby; hear her; see her. A child whose emotional needs are met grows with more self-confidence and ambition than a child who was dismissed or forced to interact. These children tend to suffer from anxiety.
Show empathy to your child:
Showing empathy will help develop empathy, but more than that, it shows that you are not judging him because of who he is. He cannot help that he is shy; taking time to warm-up to social situations is nothing to be ashamed of, but as his parent, you can talk to him about how you understand.
Recognize fears and address them openly:
Celebrate little triumphs, “It looked like you had fun playing with the cars today! Did you enjoy seeing your friends?” Then you can circle back to the start of the event, “I’m glad we worked together to have fun. How did you feel before you started playing?”
Correct others if they label your child:
She’s not shy; she just takes a little while to get comfortable.
Model warm, welcoming behaviors:
Say hello to strangers and greet people you know by name.
Provide low-key, easy social interaction opportunities each day:
This can be a library story time, a trip to the grocery or pet store, or a mommy-and-me class.
Take the pressure off:
Never force your child to interact. Don’t strike hostile body positions or use harsh words to or about your child. Be her comfort and safety, but slowly work your way to the group that is socializing. Your child should not feel obligated to interact at all, but will see that you feel safe and happy in the situation.
Teach proper social interaction:
You can play games or demonstrate with family members, but teach your child how to shake hands, give a high-five, or simply say ‘hello.’ A child should never be forced into an uncomfortable situation. Some children just may not know the proper way to interact.
Help your child make friends:
Participate in the activity as if you are just one of the toddlers. Let your child piggy back off of you. Talk to other little ones and find common links between your child and them, then try to encourage your child to play. You can stay or slowly scoot away as your child becomes comfortable. Remember that your child does not need 10 friends; finding just one companion can last a lifetime!
Stay with your child:
Never leave your child when he is feeling uncomfortable. Even when he has adapted, stay nearby.
Your child is amazing just as she is, never try to change her.
About the Author
Elizabeth MacDonald, a creative content writer at My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, pursues happiness in everyday life. While blogging about pregnancy and family, she spends her days exploring the world and homeschooling her 4 young children. With wine in hand, Elizabeth tries to find the positives hidden in the messes of parenthood. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, but filling the minutes with memorable moments keeps her smiling. Also read her pregnancy blog.