Shy kids are at a disadvantage in our outgoing, busy culture, because they have a harder time relaxing and connecting with others. But, with a little support, shy kids can learn to manage their shyness. Here are a few ways to help kids overcome their shyness.
Empathize with your child’s shyness: Acknowledging what your kid feels, without negative judgment, helps them to feel good about themselves. Giving them the impression that there is something wrong will just make them feel worse and therefore more insecure and shy. Empathizing with your child will also help develop empathy, which will enhance social skills and help connect with others.
Model confident behavior: Kids learn from watching their parents. That means being friendly to strangers, offering help to others, and modeling a relaxed attitude about social interactions of all kinds.
Teach your child basic social skills: Kids often need to be taught to make eye contact, shake hands, smile, and respond to polite chit-chat appropriately. Role-play with them on how to join a game at the playground or introduce themselves to another child at a party. Kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first, and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in. Make games out of social skills and practice at home.
Teach your child effective strategies for dealing with shyness: Remind your child that she doesn’t have to be interesting, just interested, and teach her to ask other kids questions and listen to their answers. Brainstorm with them on how to handle a situation that makes them nervous. “If you feel nervous at the party today, what could you do to make yourself more comfortable? Could you hang out with one of the kids you know from school? Could you offer to help serve the refreshments? What do you think you might talk with the other kids about?”
Provide your child with opportunities to interact with others: Shy kids need plenty of opportunities to practice their social skills. And remember that empathizing doesn’t mean being over-protective. Applaud every little step they take on their own.