Tips for encouraging your shy child

It's all too familiar to see little kids hiding behind their parents when they meet someone new. Not all kids are inherently shy, but they can be hesitant at first to talk to new people, or even play with kids they don't know. Most of them will open up slowly, while some take longer than others.

If you feel that your little one has a shy personality, you'll notice that they take longer to settle in social situations than other kids. You can't change always change this nature, but you can encourage them to feel more comfortable by taking small steps to help them integrate socially.

Six tips to encourage your shy child:

Six tips to help your shy child adjust to new social situations, and help them settle in.

1. Talk about what to expect

If you have a shy child, you know that he or she won't go to a birthday party and start blending in straight away. When planning to attend any such event, talk to your child about what to expect - how big the party is, for instance, and how many people they would see. Talk about what activities they could do, and what they would like to do once they get there. This would help them prepare for social situations by being mentally prepared.

2. Make gradual transitions

Apart from talking about what to expect, you can plan a course of action for what to do once there. Say, at a family gathering, there might be a favourite Aunt or cousin they would like to meet first. Once they're comfortable, they could say 'Hi' to a few other relatives, and so on. This way, they could take small steps towards feeling relaxed, because having to meet too many people can be stressful for a shy child.

3. Ask how they'd like to do things

Sometimes, children can offer their own solutions. You just need to ask them what you could do to make things easier. Perhaps, taking along a toy would help, or if you stayed on for a few minutes longer if you have to leave them. It could be a certain activity, such as singing that could make a difference. You know your child best, so work with them on making them comfortable in a way that suits them.

4. Be a confident model to follow

Kids do watch us very closely, so try to keep any anxiety at bay. Even if you aren't an outgoing parent yourself, put on a smile and talk to people, so your child can feel confident in doing the same. Whatever it is that you expect your kid to do, follow your own advice and work on getting comfortable yourself. Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, you can show your child that no matter what your personality, you don't need to shy away from social situations.

5. Don't expect a change in personality

Even after you've done everything to help your child get comfortable, they might still take time to get over their shyness. There's really nothing you can do then except to continue being supportive and encouraging.

6. Encourage a confidence-building activity

Shy kids are often nudged to take up drama or dancing to get over their shyness. That may not always suit your child, especially if they have no real interest in the activity. Instead, let them develop in an area that they have a talent in, such as music or art. Being good at something will naturally build their confidence.

More than anything, a shy child needs someone to believe in them, even if they don't quite feel that they themselves. You can do that by using positive communication and reassuring them whenever the need arises.

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