We all coo and aww when we introduce our kids to someone for the first time and their reaction is to go red in the face and retread behind our legs to peek out from a safe distance. It’s adorable… But could it impede their social development? Many kids, even very young kids are outgoing and vivacious yet some are very shy especially around adults. Shyness is by no means a sign of social incapability, nor is it a black mark against your parenting and rarely is it cause for concern or a precursor to a specific social anxiety disorder. Nonetheless, some parents may worry that their kids’ inherent shyness may be an impediment to making friends or cause them to miss out on the social development that can be extremely important in children. If this is a cause of anxiety for you, here are some strategies to help you to bring your shy child out of his or her shell so that the whole world can fall in love with them just like you have…
Don’t force them into social situations
A “deep end experience” is rarely the best environment for a child to spontaneously develop social skills. Most shy kids are highly sensitive and strongly affected by their environment. Forcing them into a situation like a party where there will be a lot of sensory input from bright colors and loud noises to unfamiliar foods or (Heaven help us all) a party clown will be upsetting for them and force them to retreat further into their shell. Confidence cannot be forced, it has to grow in its own time.
Sign up to classes
Mastery builds confidence. Even shy kids are very comfortable talking to you about what they’re doing while playing with their toys and the intricacies of the relationship between Spider-Man and Barbie. This is because they are creating their own world, a world over which they have total mastery. It behoves us, then to build opportunities for them to gain some mastery over real world skills that will build confidence. Sign them up to an activity, a sports class or encourage them to learn a musical instrument- check out these easy to learn ukulele songs at easyukulelesongs.com. This will help them develop their confidence in themselves and their abilities and hopefully allow them to make some new friends, too.
Get yourself social
Not always but often, shy children come from shy and insular parents. If your kids don’t get to see how you interact with others they won’t have a healthy benchmark for how to behave in social situations. Just as you are the arbiter of general health in your home, you should also model good behavior in a socially busy environment. Keep this in mind the next time you meet up with friends. Take your kids with you or invite friends over to your place. They might be alarmed by the presence of an unfamiliar adult at first but it won’t take long for their curiosity to be piqued and they might just learn that social situations aren’t so scary after all.