Solutions for Your Shy Child
Question: My child is very shy around other children and has trouble joining in the play. Why is she like this, and how can I help her be more comfortable with other children?
Think about it: The actions we perceive as shyness are a sign of various situations. Some kids need more time to warm up to a group or a new peer. Some kids don’t have enough practice in social situations to feel comfortable jumping right into the action. Some kids are tentative about new situations. And some are, yes, shy. Most of these situations can be overcome though practice and encouragement.
- Solution #1: Invite one child to your home at a time for a play date. After a time, invite two friends over. In the familiarity of her own home, your child will usually feel more comfortable and get to know the other children. She can then transfer that comfort to other social settings.
- Solution #2: Play alongside your child until she feels comfortable and interacts with another child. Gradually move away from the group but stay close enough for your child to still see you.
- Solution #3: Involve your child in a physical activity, such as swimming or gymnastics, or a sports team. After the initial adjustment, the experience will build your child’s confidence in group settings.
- Solution #4: Allow a child to watch other children for a while before joining in. Some children need to scope out the situation and absorb what’s happening before they participate. Pushing a child to get involved before she’s ready will make her more uncomfortable.
- Solution #5: Teach your child specific approaches to use when she meets new kids. Practice these at home in a role-play situation. Acknowledge her uncomfortable feelings, and encourage her to practice and try out her new skills. Let her know that while she may be concerned with her own appearance and her own side of the conversation, the other kid is likely to be feeling the same way. Once she has successfully used her new skills she will be more likely to try them again.
- Solution #6: Some children are comfortable and content in their quiet way of interacting with the world. They have one or two good friends, are doing well in school, and are happy and self confident. Make sure you aren’t assuming a problem where one doesn’t really exist!
Spending time with a professional counselor or therapist can help a child who is painfully shy and suffers from it. A school counselor may be a good source of help.
(Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc. from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999)
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