Helping Your Shy Child Come Out of His Shell

Posted on by admin | in babysitting

Every child is different. Some are naturally outgoing and social. Others are shy and reserved. No matter what your child’s temperament is, as a parent you try and honor those traits. Honoring your child’s uniqueness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help him learn to balance out his natural traits. For a bookworm child, a parent might want to encourage a love for outdoor play. For a child with a rough and tumble approach to life, a parent might want to encourage a more gentle way of engaging others. Here are a few ideas for parents with a shy child who want to encourage more comfort in social situations.

Embrace your child’s shyness. Being shy isn’t a defect or deficit. Make sure your child knows that there isn’t anything wrong with him simply because he’s shy. Emphasize the idea that his shyness is just one part of who he is. Children who feel this trait really gets in the way of them making friends or feeling comfortable in different social situations can come to believe that they’re fundamentally flawed. By celebrating every part of your child, you let him know that there’s nothing that needs to be fixed.

Let your child know that everyone is shy at different times. By sharing stories from your own life and from the lives of famous people your child admires, you can show him that everyone faces situations where they feel and act shy. You can also share how you overcame it and how the situation turned out. Knowing that he’s not alone in how he feels can be a huge comfort to your child. It can also give him the courage he needs to face challenging situations.

Have realistic expectations. A shy child can learn to manage his feelings and actions and get more comfortable in social situations. However, he’ll never be able to change his temperament nor should he be expected to. Make sure your expectations of how your child can change are realistic and honor your child’s natural temperament. It’s important that you encourage your child to work through the challenges he faces in being shy. It’s equally important that you understand your shy child will never become an extroverted, social butterfly.

Allow your child to feel whatever he feels. It’s often a parent’s impulse to try and talk a troubled child out of his feelings. You don’t want your shy child to feel left out, like he doesn’t have any real friends or like he just isn’t capable of having fun like the rest of his classmates. So you might try and lessen his pain by trying to convince him that it’s not all that bad or that what he’s feeling will quickly pass. However, when you don’t acknowledge how your child really feels, it just makes him feel worse. In fact, it often makes him feel more disconnected because he feels misunderstood by everyone around him. Instead, give him permission to truly feel whatever he feels. Let him know that you’re there to support him.

Role play different scenarios. Helping your child figure out what he’ll say and do in different situations will help him build confidence and move outside his social comfort zone. Even with children as young as 4 or 5, helping a child find the right words to say to start a conversation or to ask to join a group game can be a huge help. As children get older, role plays can successfully tackle more complex issues. When a child has the opportunity to practice moving through a situation successfully, he’s more likely to accomplish that in real life. Role plays not only help him practice his words and actions, they allow him to learn how to manage his feelings. Understanding that he can feel anxious and still act in a positive way will pave the way for him to move out of shyness.

Encourage your child to strengthen his social skills. Your child will be presented with opportunities every day to practice new social skills. Encourage him to take advantage of those opportunities. It might be as simple as saying hi to a child on the playground or offering to share a toy in the sandbox. Small steps will build his confidence and lead up to bigger and bigger moves. He won’t be successful with every attempt. Those moments are just as important as the successes because they’ll help build your child’s resiliency.

Having a shy child can be challenging. As a parent you want your child to always feel comfortable in whatever situation he may find himself. With some support from you, your child can find new ways to come out of his shell.

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