Helping Your Preschooler Overcome Shyness


My son was always a shy child. I remember taking him to visit his friends where he would sit stuck with me, holding on to my arm tightly. My friends advised me to take him out more often, so that he could meet new people and overcome this supposed shyness. But alas! It never really happened. Shyness in preschoolers is not difficult to understand. Especially children coming from nuclear families (like mine).

We need to understand that being an introvert or reserved is not the concern here. But being shy can deprive our children from gaining new experiences and following their heart. A question, does feeling shy make you a wee bit uncomfortable? I am certain the answer will be in the affirmative. Similar emotions are experienced by our child, too. Consequently, quite a few good learning opportunities are lost. For e.g. a child who would love to learn soccer would shy away from it, due to his awkwardness to interact with a group. How unfair is that!

As parents, it is our moral responsibility to help our child overcome traits that can prove to be detrimental to his progress. We need to identify the reasons for this ‘shy’ behaviour. Is it a genetic trait or is it a learned response? The good news is that in both these situations, behaviour can be modified. Overly reserved behaviour can also be a passing phase, like in preschoolers, where the novelty of every situation makes them slightly withdrawn. A few tell tale signs of a shy child:

  • Holding on to mum, avoiding eye contact
  • Feeling anxious, crying
  • Verbal expressions like’ I feel awkward’.

 We need to be in sync with our child’s needs and help her overcome this shyness. A few pointers:

  1. Shyness is not a negative trait; please do not make your child feel guilty. Be supportive and encouraging. Help your baby help herself. Be empathetic.
  2. Try not to do away with the physical proximity. If your child wants you around in the playground in the evening, do it. Emotional security is the key word.
  3. You are your child’s role model. Talk to her about the times when you were shy (being fictitious is fine, add some drama☺). Then tell her how you became more outgoing; explain your personal journey. Kids emulate us, always.
  4. At times, allow your child to deal with stress situations. She needs to learn to cope with anxiety. Allow her to carry on independent conversations with people. It would be great to start with your friends and family. Ask them to chip in!
  5. Assist and encourage your child to identify her strengths. Make her feel confident about herself; allow her to discover her uniqueness. Let her discover the excitement and fun in group activities.
  6. Coax her to talk about her feelings, her apprehensions and her concerns. Allow her to vent herself. Games like the ‘dumb charades’ are great tools of self expression.
  7. Appreciate your child for any outgoing behaviour. Praise her, preferably in the presence of her peer group. Positive reinforcement works wonders.
  8. Most important, love her for what she is. ☺

Goodbye shyness ☺


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