Parents are often worried when their own children are very shy. Then an attempt is made to give the child more self-confidence or to simply make them open up more. Parents can make many mistakes. In addition, you don’t have to “step in” with every degree of shyness. We’ll tell you when shyness is a problem for your child and what you can do to best support your child.
What is shyness?
First, we should define “shyness” in more detail. The website of the online magazine “parenting.nytimes.com” first explains that shyness has nothing to do with introvert or social phobias. Shyness in children is quite normal at first. Many children become less and less shy over time. You will learn how to deal better with social situations and how to respond appropriately. So it’s not said that your child will always be shy. Give him time to develop. It doesn’t have to be a matter of immediate concern if your child is shy, and therapy and medical advice are also not essential.
Reasons for shyness
One reason for shy behavior can be that the child feels uncomfortable and strange in social situations or is simply nervous. It could also worry too much about what others think of him. Then the fear of being rejected may play a role.
According to the magazine “baby-und-familie.de”, shyness can also be innate. Even if living conditions change, this often leads to shyness among children: the new kindergarten, school enrollment, moving house, family disputes, Pressure to perform and stress. All of this can lead to inhibitions in your child.
Shyness is not a weakness
It is important to understand that shyness is not a weakness. Extraversion is particularly celebrated in today’s society. So the top priority should be for you: don’t worry so much just because your child is (still) shy. It is also not a drawback if your child does not have 30 friends, but maybe “only” two. Social competence and empathy cannot be determined by sheer numbers. Shy children can be very empathetic and passionate, even without “ramp-up” qualities.
When does shyness become a problem?
It only becomes problematic when your child’s shyness makes everyday activities impossible, such as visiting the playground. Or if your child’s fears are so strong that there is a massive difference to other children’s fears. In such a case, it is helpful to contact a pediatrician or child therapist. They can check whether your child is really just shy or suffers from social fears and therefore needs professional support and treatment so that they are better off and are better able to cope with life’s challenges.
What can parents do?
You can support your child by acknowledging and respecting their feelings, but at the same time encouraging them to leave their comfort zone. For example, it would be bad if you totally put your child in cotton wool and keep them away from all challenges. If a situation does not directly affect other children, for example during gymnastics classes – confront your child with the situation again and give him or her the chance to approach the other children after all. So don’t take it straight out of these social events! Otherwise your child believes that his or her possible fear of making contact is justified. So don’t get overly caring. This can be counterproductive in shy children.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t force your child into situations or react annoyed to his shyness. Let your child set the pace and support them, but don’t put extra pressure on them. This can mean that your child only takes very small steps and takes a lot of time. Give him that time.
“Train” with your child
You can also talk to your child about what’s going to happen before a potentially stressful situation. This gives you a small “lead”: It can deal with what it expects and how it could react to certain things beforehand. With this plan in mind, the whole situation is easier for him, as psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore explains at “parenting.nytimes.com”. For example, before her child’s birthday, she suggested to her daughter in which order she could do something: first find the gift table, then say hello to the birthday child and finally watch what the other children are doing at the party – and take part if it does you agree.
It can also help your child if you practice getting in touch with them in just a few steps: make eye contact or choose the middle of the forehead, if eye contact is too challenging, then smile, say hello. Shaking hands can also be practiced at home to relieve your child’s fear of it.
Praise your child
“Baby-und-familie.de” advises to always praise your child if they have mastered such a situation well. If it didn’t go well, don’t be frustrated, but talk to him about the reasons. Potential playmates should be invited to your home because your child will then be exposed to the challenge in a familiar environment. This can have a calming effect. It can also be helpful if your child is playing with younger people – the role of “the big one” can increase their self-confidence. Very important: Your child should always feel that they are loved as they are.
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