Shy children tend to bottle up their emotions. This not only deprives them of the warmth and intimacy we all need, but can also lead them to suppress their anger until they finally explode. Shy children are reluctant to ask questions or even ask for help when they truly need it. Being misunderstood as unfriendly, disinterested and aloof is often what others think when they try to interact with a shy child. Shyness prevents children from having friends which can then damage their emotional health.
There are several ways in which parents and caregivers can help shy children to feel more comfortable with others.
1. Predictable, consistent daily routines help all children feel more secure. A child who knows what’s expected in the morning to get ready for school and then in the afternoons and evenings has specific schedules feels more in control of daily experiences.
2. Giving a shy child appropriate praise teaches acceptance of positive remarks graciously.
3. Invite another child over to play and have organized games and fun delicious snacks.
4. It’s easier to just have one friend over rather than a group of friends.
5. Teach children specific social skills to interact with others. Role-play with them phrases such as “Hi. My name is ___________. Can I play with you?” Also teach a child to say “Goodbye or “I have to go now” rather than just walking away from their friends.
6. Shy children should never be shamed or ridiculed for not talking or playing with other kids.
7. Playing with a younger child is often easier for a shy child. Then mixed-age opportunities for play may gradually increase the social comfort of some shy children.
8. Unconditional love is important without doing too much for a shy child that could make the child feel overly dependent and incapable.
9. It’s not healthy to force your shy child to show off or perform for others.
Many children who are taught appropriate social skills will outgrow their shyness. Continue to emphasize positive social accomplishments as they occur.
Resilient Children-How Caring Adults Can Inspire Children To Succeed And Thrive is an excellent resource for parents and caregivers to use with kids 5-12 years old to learn social skills to help shy children feel more comfortable with others.