By: Caroline Kupchella, Co-Founder, The Indika Alliance
Every child has a different personality, and some are just innately shy. Children who tend to be shyer can be uncomfortable in social interactions, and may exhibit signs of clinginess. Self-confidence and comfort in social situations doesn’t come easy to all children, which is why it’s important to provide tools for your child as they begin to navigate social settings. Tools are going to be different for each child, some will need more of a physical presence around them when they’re in social situations, some will respond more to praise when they’ve done something brave and some will look to you for the answers of how to go forward in different social settings. Below are some tools to help children begin to build up their confidence and work through shyness.
- Have your child pay the cashier when you go out. What may seem like a simple activity can actually build up your child’s confidence and teach social skills necessary to navigate the outside world. It also gives him an opportunity to take control of the situation as he is the one in charge of handing the money over and taking the receipt.
- At a restaurant, have your child give his order to the waiter. This skill teaches children the importance of speaking up for what they want and puts them in a situation where the other person (the waiter) is giving him his undivided attention.
- Start small with social interaction. Invite one friend over to the house to play with your child, and then build from there. Eventually he should be able to reach a stage where he feels comfortable going to other people’s houses to play as well.
- Practice conversation starters. Often the hardest part is starting the conversation, so it would be beneficial to the child to work on different skills such as practicing introductions, giving a compliment or asking a question. Being ready with a conversation starter makes it easier to approach someone.
- Allow for opportunities to practice social behavior. This can be brought forth in many different ways, especially starting at home. By playing with your child, he is able to learn social skills just by watching how you interact with him. Doing things such as responding to his play ideas builds up the confidence necessary for him to play with his peers at school as well.
Using these tactics to help your child break out of his shell will hopefully provide your child with tools to be able to feel more comfortable navigating public settings. Many parents can feel frustrated that their child is slow to warm up, but with a little practice, he can slowly become more confident.
If you are concerned that your child might have a language delay, a hearing issue or if you believe your child might have other developmental issues that could be contributing to his shyness, speak to your child’s pediatrician.
What have you tried to help your child break out of his shell?