How to help your shy child reach their full potential
Most shy children don’t want to entertain a crowd, make a presentation at school or be the centre of attention. But shyness can hold them back from reaching their full potential, both in and out of the classroom.
Here are some ways parents can help shy children become more assertive, build friendships and stay in tune with their emotions. First, start with understanding what shyness is.
What is shyness?
It’s normal for young children to avoid new experiences and find it difficult to speak up when overwhelmed or uncomfortable. That said, shy kids may show signs such as worrying about making mistakes, avoiding social situations, and feeling shy and anxious around peers.
How much shyness will create a problem?
When shyness becomes a significant problem, kids tend to have excessive shyness that negatively affects their normal day-to-day activities. They may even avoid school and other social situations. In this case, parents should see a mental health professional who can determine what’s behind the shyness and offer strategies for helping kids become more outgoing.
How can parents help their shy children to reach their full potential?
1) Let shy children set their pace
Parents should help a timid child learn to make friends by letting shy children decide how far to take it. For example, if your child doesn’t want to talk or share at school, let them know that you’re available when they’re ready. Shyness isn’t something that can be quickly ‘fixed.’ It usually requires some time and patience for shy behaviour to change.
2) Encourage shy children to work at their own pace
Don’t force a timid child into activities like sports or drama regularly before they feel ready. If your child is interested in joining after-school clubs, encourage their involvement but don’t push them towards it. Your child may not enjoy these types of activities until they’re older.
3) Create a quiet place at home
For a timid child, having their own space to go to when they feel overwhelmed makes all the difference for shy children. Providing them with a safe zone at home – that can be decorated however they like – helps a timid child to feel less stressed and encourages them to spend time away from other people. A calm space will provide a timid child with somewhere comfortable to read, watch TV, play games or do anything else they enjoy. It should also have lots of natural light to feel bright and inviting for shy kids who may find it difficult to be out in the open.
4) Develop independence gradually
Shy children usually need extra encouragement to become more independent but making changes too quickly can cause harm. Having shy children do small tasks independently such as making their breakfast or packing a bag for school can help them become more confident in these situations without placing too much pressure on them.
5) Help shy kids when they’re out and about
Shy kids may find it difficult when they’re out and about with their family because the setting is unfamiliar to them, and there’s an expectation that they’ll interact with others. It’s completely normal for a timid child to need reassurance before joining in activities like this. Still, parents should be careful not to push shy kids into doing things they don’t want to do, especially if it causes discomfort. When shy kids are in this situation, allow them time by themselves so that they can familiarise themselves with the surroundings before joining in with the rest of the family.
6) Be aware that shy children may overreact
Shy kids may be prone to having temper tantrums or other types of reacting disproportionately because they’re easily overwhelmed and shyness can bring out hyperactivity in a timid child . This is another reason why it’s important not to push a timid child into situations where they don’t feel comfortable – a lot of shy kids will have a meltdown if you do this and parents will need to understand that this isn’t a reflection on them as a parent – it doesn’t mean their child hates spending time with them, shy children simply react differently from less shy kids.
7) Give shy children opportunities to feel good about themselves
Shyness is often the result of shy kids feeling like they aren’t good enough – it’s important to make sure shy children know that you see their worth and hold them in high esteem. This will become increasingly important as shy children get older and enter social situations where other people begin making decisions about whether or not shy kids are worthy (eg: friends, personal relationships). Shy children need to learn that how others perceive them isn’t a reflection of who they are as people – shyness can be overcome by hard work but shy kids should know that learning this isn’t going to suddenly lead to low self-esteem, etc.
8) Provide your shy child with positive feedback when they start to feel shy
When shy children begin feeling shy or uncomfortable, they tend to lose their sense of social awareness, making them much more likely to behave in unhelpful ways (e.g., stuttering, not participating, etc.). They need to know that it’s okay for them to be shy and that you still love them even when they feel shy. You can also indicate that you understand why a timid child might act this way without making them out as abnormal. Seeing the difference between shyness and horrible antisocial behaviour is essential for shy children because finding a place where they feel comfortable gives a timid child an opportunity to regroup and recover from any negative experiences.
Speaking to shy children about shyness can help shy children feel more comfortable in their skin. Shy children need to know that they are valued and loved, even when they feel shy. Follow the tips mentioned above and help your shy children in reaching their full potential.
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