Shyness is the feeling of apprehension or lack of confidence experienced in regard to social association with others. Shyness generally means “tends to avoid human beings”. Shyness is described experientially as discomfort and/or inhibition in interpersonal situations that interferes with pursuing one’s interpersonal or professional goals. It is a form of excessive self-focus, a preoccupation with one’s thoughts, feelings and physical reactions. It may vary from mild social awkwardness to totally inhibiting social phobia.
Identifying the nature of your child’s shyness is very important. Children are shy in different ways for different reasons. Understanding the nature of your child’s shyness will help you develop a program geared towards your child’s specific needs. Is your child shy in groups? At parties? Meeting new people? In novel situations? Or, pretty much everywhere? Does your child have trouble eating in public? Playing with other children? Making phone calls? Or, is your child only shy when s/he has to make a presentation in front of the class at school? Knowing the nature of you child’s shyness will help you identify the specific skills your child needs to be more at ease in social situations.
There are a few points about shyness in children which will help you better understand the best approach in dealing with your child.
1. First of all, are you sure your child really is shy? Some children like to size up a situation before they jump in. Caution should not be misunderstood as shyness.
2. Don’t call your child ‘shy’. Studies have shown that often a child will grow to fit a label.
3. Parental pressure on the shy child can cause anxiety and insecurity, leading to a worse problem with shyness. Don’t push your child to achieve above his or her individual level.
4. Never compare your shy child with other children in a negative way. And never allow anyone else to hurt your child in this way.
5. Take your child’s ideas seriously. By lessening the importance of a child’s concerns you lessen the child.
6. Encourage your shy child to get involved in activities with others. Don’t allow too many isolating activities, like watching TV.
7. Never push your shy child to do things he or she would find unbearable. Rather, make suggestions, but realize your child may not be ready. Be patient.
8. You need not handle your shy child with kid gloves, but be aware of how he feels and show that you understand.