How to Help a Shy Child

As parents we all worry about our children’s development. At times these concerns can seem overwhelming and most especially if our child does not seem to be developing as strongly in some areas as others.

Comparing our children to others of the same age can be a painful and pointless exercise which becomes addictive as we search for the signs that our children are “catching up” or “coming into their own”.

Shy children need time to find their inner strengths.

Shy children need time to find their inner strengths.

Children are incredibly sensitive to the way the adults around them respond to their perceived weaknesses and in order to assist our children to grow to their full capacity as fulfilled young people, we need to stop the judging and stop the checking up with immediate effect.

Shy children are often pitied or even become the victims of derision and yet being shy is something which a large percentage of adults will freely admit to.

Why then is it seen as such a negative trait? What is wrong with not wanting to be centre of attention? Is there a problem with needing to have some peace and quiet now and then?

Of course not…the minority are admired for their outgoing natures and many parents wish that their child could be the one in the spotlight, but to what end?

There is no evidence that outgoing people achieve more, shyer people can be just as successful in their chosen careers, the trick to helping young children who are shy is to let them know that it’s fine to want to spend time alone and it’s fine to choose the quieter activities instead of the team led sports or the drama groups.

Self acceptance is the start of confidence; an ability to be happy in your own skin will send the message to the world at large that you are an interesting and positive person.

So when your child exhibits signs of shyness, do not be tempted to “push” them into speaking up or joining in when they clearly don’t want to. Let them be; allow them to feel that it is fine to watch their peers as they dance or to stay on the sidelines during a sports activity…that it’s fine to enjoy being an observer at times.

Parents can help their child to grow in confidence by offering small but regular challenges.

Parents can help their child to grow in confidence by offering small but regular challenges.

Lavish them with praise for the things they do excell at; if that’s art then give them the opportunity to enter art competitions and to receive praise or rewards for their skills. The same for the child who simply loves to watch television…offer them the chance to make their own show to upload onto the internet, give them the skills to participate in some way and their confidence will soar.

A child who adores reading alone for hours will get  huge boost if you help them to write a letter to their favorite author, a reply may appear and that is extremely validating for younger children. It helps them feel that their opinion matters.

Shyer children are more common than you may think and many children need time to mature and to grow before they open up to their peers and to society in general. Help your shy child to accept themselves by not judging them but by celebrating them.