Sunday Snippet: The Shy Child
Summer is the time for kids to go outside and have a blast playing with other kids their age. However, what if your child has a difficult time breaking out of their shell? Some children jump in and make friends wherever they go, whereas others take a while to “warm up”.
It is important to view all these behaviors as part of the child’s process of learning how to connect to others. As a parent, you must try to accept where your child is developmentally (though it can be upsetting when they are sitting on a bench alone at the park or clinging to your leg at a family gathering) and help them move forward. If you accept who they are, so will they. If your child feel secure in your love, they will feel valuable and find it easier to relate to others.
Be careful not to refer to your child as shy in front of them. For example, do not tell a neighbor you meet, “She is too shy to say hello”, as this will become her self- view. Instead say, “She doesn’t feel like saying hello right now,” or explain to relatives whom you are visiting, “Sometimes she needs a little time to feel comfortable”. Do not force your child to speak. It may embarrass them and make them retreat even more.
Be sure to provide ample opportunities for your child to be with other children, preferably children who are not overbearing. You can arrange play dates for them at your house if that is where your child feels most comfortable. Enroll them in a class at the local community center or at a preschool that is run by professionals who can help them enhance their social skills.
Always prepare your child for new situations in advance by telling them who will be there and what will happen. Help them to focus on the positives of the situation and discuss what they might like to do when she arrives. For example, “I’ll bet your friend Denise will be at playgroup today. Do you think you might like to show her your new hair band?”
Your child may need you to model for them how to start a conversation. When someone walks over to them by the sliding pond, you can say, “Hi. This is Sarah. What’s your name?” Over time your child will internalize your approaches and succeed on their own. Sometimes bringing bubbles or a ball to the park can serve as an icebreaker for a child who is having a hard time joining in.
Although it can be difficult to know how to mediate a situation with a shy child, the most important tip is patience. Your child may need a bit more time than other children to open up, so your patience and support is important to guide them through their shyness.
Source: Psychology Today