Dealing with a shy child
Shyness is a child's normal response to new or unfamiliar situations. With the right approach, your child's shyness can be relieved.
Shyness is a child’s normal response to new or unfamiliar situations. But usually as they gain experience with new social experiences, they warm up and become more sociable. Children who are shy will usually avert their gaze or remain silent when being spoken to. Young children will even pull away and suck their thumbs as this is their way of coping with the new social situations. Also, they will usually have both negative and positive feelings towards towards a person or situation which is why they can be simultaneously wary and interested in unfamiliar social experiences.
However, children who are extremely shy have an exaggerated sense of themselves, making them painfully aware of the people around them. They feel as if everyone is watching their every move, just waiting to pound on them when they do something wrong. They are usually worried about what other people think or say about them. This type of children usually have a very poor self-image and most of the time, are unable to build close relationships.
Nature vs. Nurture
Experts say that shyness can be both hereditary and nurtured. You may have noticed that there are some children who are more shy than others. Some children are only shy in certain contexts while others are always shy no matter what the situation may be.
Some researchers argue that shyness is picked up by children in their homes. They say that this is primarily due to the fact that cultural and family background provide models for social behaviour. Some children who are called “shy” by their parents will usually grow up fitting the label.
A number of studies prove that shyness can also be hereditary. Researchers have found out that very shy children have less stable heart rates and blood pressure than those who are uninhibited. Patterns of shyness have been found to be linked with personality development during toddlerhood.
Tips for Dealing With Shyness
1. Accept your child for who he or she is. Show respect for your child by accepting both his/her strengths and weaknesses. Strive to build a close relationship with your child by acknowledging his/her feelings and interests.
2. Understand the nature of your child’s shyness. Try to determine when and where your child usually becomes shy. Then, seek ways on how you can help your child overcome his/her shyness in these situations.
3. Build your child’s self-esteem. Constantly encourage your child by praising him/her whenever he/she accomplishes something. This will help boost his/her self-image. Also, make him/her understand that he/she will always be accepted. Avoid giving harsh criticisms as they can only make your child feel rejected.
4. Encourage your child to engage in social activities. Allow your child to grow socially by seeking out activities that he/she will be interested in. You can enroll him or her in a play school or in an extra-curricular course. Make sure that your child is involved in activities that require interaction. Avoid activities that will keep him/her isolated such as watching television or playing video games.
5. Allow your child to adjust to new situations in his or her own pace. Do not force your child to be in a social situation that he or she doesn’t want to be in. Cajoling your child into social interaction will only make things worse. Just wait for him/her to warm up to a situation.
Be a role model. Make sure that you yourself has a healthy image of yourself. If you exhibit shyness yourself, then it would be hard for your child to overcome inhibition.
Keep in mind that shyness is not a disease. It is a normal mechanism that your child uses to adapt to new social experiences. With the right approach, your child’s shyness can be relieved.