The worst thing you can say to a shy kid is ‘don’t be shy’. Now again, I repeat; shyness is not a disease. It’s not something to cure or a project to complete. It’s a phase that needs to be handled and managed with great sensitivity. It’s about respecting the space that your child desires and helping them decrease their level of social anxiety. Shyness could also relate to kids who want to be alone and on the other hand children who are lonely and have no friends.
Personally, I have not experienced shy behavior in my son yet. I would rather expect him to be quiet at times and not be such a blabber mouth when he is spilling out secrets or playing with kids I don’t even recognize. But alas! That’s not how it works.
Let’s find out a few facts first. But what does ‘shy’ even mean? Is it just hiding behind your momma in a social gathering? Or biting nails, twitching hairs, tugging clothes to show that you are uneasy with something around? Well there are many behaviors that depict shyness in kids. Being shy could mean that the child is sensitive to the surroundings and environment around them. They are also known as introverts. Most of the shy kids will start getting anxious in large gatherings and cling to their comfort zone till they feel completely safe.
As parents, it’s our prime responsibility to make the environment around our little shy ones livable (read happily livable). They need our support constantly along with the nurturing. Listen to them and try to observe them while they are trying to manage themselves in such uncomforting situations. Calm them down if they feel overwhelmed in front of other confident kids. And yes, no one likes to be compared. So stop that immediately. They don’t’ want to hear about how the neighbor’s kid recites his poem so confidently. Try and avoid shaming them and showcasing the social skills of the other confident children around them. This will only bring their morale down and make them unhappy. What you can really do is make them comfortable when they are at their creative best. They may not be eloquent speakers, but encourage their bravery while they succeed to stepping up on stage. It’s like their mini accomplishment. Celebrate it.
Go slow with them. Take small strides towards helping them shed off these little anxieties. Compliment them for trying, always. Help your child in making friends by arranging a play date in the park or maybe at home where they are comfortable. And also they grasp social skills and behaviors from other kids quicker than usual. Talk about model behavior like speaking confidently, walking straight, being able to express freely etc.
It’s okay to be shy; it’s okay to be quiet. If you assure your child, that being shy is not a crime, they will slowly ease out and open up. You will find them gradually turning into confident adults.
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