Shyness is a normal part of development; a child's response to an unfamiliar world. Shyness could be occasional, occurring in new and overwhelming situations. As soon as the child gets comfortable, they tend to come out of their shell. But it can also be extreme, where the child's shyness prevents them interacting with others.
Common signs to watch out for: your child prefers to watch others play but won't join in, fidgets and looks at the floor when meeting new people, and refuses to speak up or speak voluntarily.
If you would like to help your child overcome their shyness, try these 4 tips:
Don't embarrass the child
As a parent, you might admire bold, courageous children but that's no reason to shame your shy child. Understand that their behavior is caused by anxiety and simply encourage them to be more outgoing. If they don't want to be, don't force them. Some children will outgrow the behavior naturally as they grow older. Don't compare your child to other children or ask them why they can't be like their peers. That could be demoralizing to your child. If you feel the need to correct their behavior, please do so at home.
Talk to them
If your child is outgoing and loud at home but immediately clams up around strangers, you can talk to them to find out what prompts the response. Listen with empathy and don't discard their fears. By talking to your child, you discover if they are scared, feel overwhelmed, don't like certain people, or are afraid of rejection. Use this information to help them navigate their world.
Don't label your child
It's normal to tell people that your child is shy in social situations. But you could be affirming the shy behavior by labeling your child in such a manner. Your child will start to believe it and won't be tempted to try to get over it. Instead, tell people that it takes a little time for your child to open up to new people or in unfamiliar situations.
Be a guide in new situations
Your child will look to you for clues on how to act and react in social situations. This gives you an opportunity to be a guide that can help them open up. Be friendly and polite when meeting new people; ask your child to mimic your behavior. For instance:
"Good morning, Mrs. Debra. This is my daughter Nancy. Nancy, say good morning."
If your child is hanging back at the park instead of joining other kids to play, you can walk her over to an activity that has just a few people such as the swings and help her kickstart a conversation with another kid. Guide her along and soon she will be chatting away on her own.
Your kid being shy is usually a sign of anxiety. If you notice your child really wants to play with other kids but always hangs back, you can try these tips to help them out. Remember to be kind, and non-judgmental. Listen to their fears and be a good social guide.