Every child has his temperament and has a unique manner of interacting with people and situations around himself. Such kids feel extremely uncomfortable in social situations and could make extensive efforts to stay away from them.
How Much Shyness is Too Much?
Generally speaking, being shy should not bother you or the child. Shy kids turn out to be better listeners and do not get pulled up for bad behaviour at school. It can be termed as too much if your child seems to be unhappy or is unnecessarily bashful than normally expected. Speak to a professional if your child refuses to go to school regularly or avoids birthday parties, group activities and other events involving large groups.
Causes of Shyness in Kids
The following are a few probable causes of the shy kid problems your child may be facing. These causes often work as a combination so watch them carefully:
- Personality: A child who is emotionally sensitive is more likely to grow up and display a shy behaviour as a teen or an adult too.
- Genetics: A child’s genetic make-up can be partly responsible for affecting this aspect of its personality.
- Lack of social interaction: Children may not develop necessary social skills if they have been isolated socially in their early years.
- Fear of failure: Children, when pushed beyond their capacity to perform, may begin to fear failure which can be perceived as shyness
- Criticism: When parents, siblings or close friends criticise, bully or tease a child in his early years, it could lead to shyness.
- Family: Overprotectiveness from parents can lead to fear and inhibition while in new or unfamiliar situations.
- Learning Behaviour: Shy parents often unknowingly pass on their shyness to their kids by example. Parents are a child’s first role model, and kids could learn from imitating their behaviour that they observe in public.
When Could Shyness Be an Issue in a Child?
When parents observe that their child is shy, they are likely to wonder if this behaviour is normal or should it worry them. It could be normal for a child to cling to its parents when meeting new people or in an unfamiliar situation. It can become an issue if it does not seem to be a temporary phase. Most children grow out of it as their interaction with kids of their age increases. It should concern you when you notice your child playing alone while in a group. Check with teachers if your child is shy with children of his age in school or the neighbourhood.
Complications of Child’s Shyness
Your child’s quality of life can be severely impacted if he or she is constantly shy which includes:
- Non-participation in childhood activities like sports, dance, music or drama which are rewarding and fun.
- It can lead to fewer opportunities to practice social skills and develop as an individual
- Reduced self-esteem and feelings of isolation or insignificance
- Cannot achieve full potential due to fear of being judged
- Higher levels of anxiety
- Trembling, blushing and stammering are physical effects that can further embarrass the child.
Tips to Help Your Shy Child
As a concerned parent, you would wonder how to help a shy kid overcome this condition. Firstly, understand that shyness is a personality trait and not your child’s fault. Accepting it is the first step to help your kid. Let us see what else you could do to grow in confidence:
- Discuss the issue: Kids become submissive and shy if they are subjected to nasty fights, divorces or sexual abuse. Keep them away from such situations as much as possible. Seek professional advice if your child has been exposed to any trauma. Speak to his teachers and ask about his behaviour in school as this will give you insights. Share strategies you have learned over the years to overcome shyness. Practice them along with your child which will enhance his confidence.
- Encourage communication: You can ask your child to interact and speak openly with children of his age. Organise a play session on weekends and invite neighbours, school kids or cousins of his age so he can be in control of his behaviour. Encouraging your child to open up and display emotions openly is one of the best ways to promote interaction.
- Show Empathy: It is best not to sympathise with shy kids at this could encourage such behaviour, and he/she could feel more ashamed. Do not be judgmental and reiterate that he is a fine human being and doesn’t have to feel bad about himself.
- Motivate and Encourage: Most parents do not know how to overcome child shyness, but it does not need any special skills. Encourage the child to create his own identity by doing things he likes to without worrying about others. Point out his strengths and skills and help him grow as an individual.
- Avoid tagging: While you are at a social gathering, do not label him as a shy kid as this will shatter his confidence. Tell him how you found him to be excellent at handling a particular situation while at a party or an event. Encourage positive behaviour whenever you notice it as this will enhance confidence and he will repeat it every time he is in a group or a large gathering.
With time and effort, a shy child can learn that interacting with people can be a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. While shyness may not be erased completely from a child’s temperament but parents can play a role in giving emotional support and confidence to the child.