It’s normal for kids to feel shy in new situations. You’ll often find them hiding behind you or covering their little faces when they are placed in unfamiliar environments. These are normal responses to shyness. So before you begin to worry about your little tot’s timid behaviour, first understand why this happens so you know how to make your shy child confident — and help them reach their full potential.
There are many ways in which you can help your kids warm up to new places and faces. All it takes is using the right approach to help them crawl out from their little shells.
Reasons Why Your Kid Might Be Shy
Children who are bullied by their peers or are belittled by family members or friends tend to develop shyness. | Image source: iStock
Before we talk about how to make your shy child confident, let’s discuss why they are shy. Here are some of the possible causes of shyness in kids, as listed by the Better Health Channel:
- Inherited from family. Some personality traits can be passed on from parent to child. Depending on an individual’s inherited genetic makeup, kids can share similar aspects of personality such as shyness with family members.
- Emotionally sensitive. Babies who are emotionally sensitive and easily intimidated can likely be more shy when they grow up.
- Learned behaviour. Kids often imitate the behaviour of their parents. If you’re also shy by nature, you can expect your child to pick up on your shy behaviour.
- Lack of social interaction. Your child won’t be able to overcome their shyness if they don’t get to meet anyone in the first place. Kids who are isolated for the first few years of their lives won’t develop the proper social skills to interact with new people and would only end up more scared to approach them.
- Harsh treatment. Children who are bullied by their peers or are belittled by family members or friends tend to develop shyness.
- Fear. Whether at school or at home, kids who shoulder too many expectations, and/or have been pushed too far from their capabilities, and punished for their failures could become extremely shy. Overprotective parents or those who practice authoritarian parenting may also influence their kids to be afraid of new situations.
Even with all of these factors, it’s possible to understand how to make your shy child confident and help them become an extrovert.
7 Tips On How To Make Your Shy Child Confident
Being a good role model yourself can encourage your child to follow suit. | Image source: iStock
While the attributes of confidence and self-awareness can shape your child’s personality positively, it’s important to remember that all kids are different. Some may have an easier time adapting to new people and places while others require a little bit more motivation.
In fact, experts even say that while temperament can be found earlier on in a child’s life, there is still time for it to change and help them adjust to their surroundings.
To support your little one overcome their shy behaviour, here are a few tips on how to make your shy child confident when they grow up:
1. Acknowledge your child’s feelings. Your word is crucial to your kid. So always let your child know that their feelings are valid. Try to understand why they feel a certain way in new situations. Don’t push your child to do things they are uncomfortable with and instead support them in their strengths and interests. Also, avoid labelling your child as ‘shy’ yourself or letting anyone else call them so.
2. Accompany your child at first in social situations. When it comes to visiting new places and meeting new people, it’s best to initiate your child’s interaction to both in your presence. Do this till your child starts to feel comfortable and gradually separate yourself from them. This will allow them to become confident to interact with others on their own.
3. Praise your child when they exhibit outgoing behaviour. When you see your child engaging in social activities or simply greeting a new person, make sure to compliment them for their bravery and encourage them to continue being involved in new situations they are interested in.
4. Set an example for your child. Being a good role model by happily interacting with more people yourself and showing them how comfortable you are in dealing with new situations can encourage your child to do the same.
5. Arrange playdates or allow your child to join extracurricular activities. It is highly encouraging for younger kids to practice their social skills in playdates, especially if you’re there to look after them. If your child also shows interest in participating in any clubs or extracurricular school activities, support them in doing so.
6. Take it one step at a time. It’s important that you’re patient with your child’s shy behaviour and are empathetic with their fears of the unfamiliar. Don’t force them to engage in social situations they don’t want to be in.
7. Don’t compare them to more confident peers or siblings. Comparing your child with others will not in any way encourage them to overcome their shyness. In fact, this could only lead them to run back in their shells.
This brings us to the crucial discussion of identifying potential issues with shyness in kids.
Possible Problems With Shyness In Kids
While making a decision for them, always ensure to take your child’s feelings into consideration. | Image source: iStock
While it’s only natural to feel afraid of unfamiliar things, extreme shyness can have a negative effect on children.
To indicate whether a child’s shyness can be problematic, here are a few complications your child may experience when they are severely shy:
- Don’t participate in group activities or is unable to answer or ask questions in class.
- Often feel lonely and has low self-esteem.
- Exhibit signs of anxiety in social situations and have reduced opportunities to improve their social skills.
- Unable to reach full potential out of fear of failure or that of being judged.
If your child’s shyness is especially severe and particularly concerning to you, consider seeking professional. Visit a counsellor or psychologist for better management and support for their behaviour.
With reports from Karen Mira.
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