Five Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Shyness
When someone he doesn’t know talks to him, he withdraws, often giving a wry smile and a little snigger before hurriedly walking on. Sometimes, even when he’s surrounded by people he knows he’ll do the same, if he feels a little overwhelmed by the occasion. And now and again he will work at school alone, reading books or painting without anyone around.
As a parent it’s a heartbreaking sight. Everyone wants their child to be popular and confident, but now and again Isaac (4) just doesn’t seem like he knows how to talk to people. I wonder whether he’s got it from me: I’m not shy, per se, but I don’t particularly like going out of my comfort zone and meeting new people.
But how do I help him? I don’t want him to turn into some kind of introvert, even if it is a paranoid thought. In order to make a mark in today’s society you need to be confident and outspoken, especially if The Apprentice is to be believed.
Here are five ways in which you can help your child overcome shyness:
1. Empathise with your child. Don’t give him the impression that there’s anything wrong, and never judge him negatively – all it will do is increase his shyness and insecurity. Empathise with him, and build his confidence slowly.
2. Be confident. You are your child’s example, and a lot of what he does he learns from you. So, when you’re with him, be confident, friendly and relaxed in social interactions.
3. Try role playing. This is especially important if you suspect your child may be the victim of bullying. Coach him to deal with teasing and conflict by playing relaxed role-playing games.
4. Give him practice. He will never learn to show confidence unless he is exposed to social situations regularly. Attend playgroups, school events and so on; invite some of his friends over for meals. Eventually, he will learn how to interact with others.
5. Notice and respond to his needs. He will be looking to you for reaction and advice, so look after him if you see him feeling insecure and calm him. He will learn how to react to his emotions, and as such be able to respond to the emotions of others.