Tips for Helping and supporting a Shy child

Parenting is an experiential learning experience. There are no handy rule books that we can rely on to solve our doubts and assuage our anxiety. As parents we are keen to do our very best to ensure that our child develops holistically. Many of us realize that our child is shy and/or an introvert. We want them to interact and engage with children of their age group so that they learn the basic social skills. Nothing wrong with this.

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  • There is nothing wrong with being shy or introvert.
  • Every child is unique and has a mind, heart and inherent personality of its own.
  • Respect the child for what he/she is.
  • Focus on the other positive aspects of the child.
  • Accept the child just the way he/she is and love him/her unconditionally.
  • Refrain from comparing your child with other children.

Often, as parents we make the mistake of wanting our child to be perfect, picture perfect always. We do our utmost to mould the personality of our child so that it matches with our vision. We do this unknowingly at a subconscious level. Perhaps we are overprotective and want to shield our child from the big bad ugly world. Children imbibe traits, learn, grow and evolve at their own pace. No one can live in isolation. Our child too will become social with time. Be patient. He/She may not become an extrovert – but will most definitely find their way about in the world. Relax! ☺ !

#1. Analyse the behaviour objectively: 

Analyse the child behaviour and find the root cause. Is there something troubling the child? Parents need to first find out if the child is not getting affected by any of the below mentioned:

  • Dominated by siblings/cousins/parents/seniors at home.
  • Bullied in class or at school.
  • Actively and/or passively subjected to arguments/fights or violence at home.

Such experiences can have a long term psychologically damaging impact on the child. If answer to any of above points is ‘yes’ – we then need to act on following:

  • Make the necessary changes in our own behaviour or in the immediate environment.
  • Realize that it is next to impossible to change the behaviour patterns of other people or the atmosphere of our home.
  • Focus on the only thing that is within our control.
  • Change our behaviour and protect our child from such scenarios as far as possible.
  • Give our child ample time and space to open up to us.
  • Hug them and show them that you love them no matter what.
  • Talk to them with love and explain in simple terms that such things are a part and parcel of life and are no different than the fights that they have with their friends at school.
  • Show them that everyone loves one another despite such differences just like they patch up, forgive and forget with their friends.
  • Listen to them when they try to tell you how scared they were.
  •  Understand that their fears are very real.
  • Apologize for what happened even if the situation was not in your control.
  • Give them ample time to come to terms with their emotions.
  • Rely on their short memories and hope they will forget such incidents with time.  

#2. Exposure to outdoor activities:

Exposure to outside world, making new friends, interacting and socializing, helps a lot in opening up a shy child. Sending them to school definitely makes them interact with other children. As parents we need to help them acheive this. This can be done by following:

  • Create a lot of fun times.
  • Take them out to parks/beaches etc. so that they open up to the world at large.
  • Expose them to the fun that the other children/people around are having.
  • Allow them to take the initiative to interact with other children.
  • Behave normally ourselves.
  • Refrain from putting on a pretence and a façade of being highly social ourselves.
  • Understand that children can easily see through our gimmicks.

#3. Let them be!

Children are astute enough to realize that they are missing out on a lot of fun by refusing to play or interact with other children. As parents we need to:

  • Give them time to realize that their own fears are holding them back.
  • Observe the smiles and laughter of our child even when they prefer being in the background.
  • Allow them to overcome their own inhibitions and fears in their own time.
  • Let them to take their own decisions at every stage of their lives.
  • Simply show them all the options.
  • Give them ample time to consider the options.
  • Give them advice only when they ask for it.
  • Understand that they may not be ready to participate in the school’s annual day celebrations just yet.
  • Realise that they too are struggling with their fears. Know that they may want to do so willingly the very next time.
  • Let them be themselves and give them our unstinting support at all times.
  • Realize that they may have other inherent talents which will surface at the right time with the right exposure.
  • Accept that our child may not be an ace at drama but may prove to be an ace in Math or fine art.

#4. Refrain, please please refrain from passing on your fears and anxieties to your child.

The child is imbibing all your insecurities, fears and anxieties. Their tender, immature minds and hearts are unable to process the complex aspects of your expectations. They may not be able to express themselves clearly or even understand what you are trying to do. But they do know that you are not happy about some aspect of their behaviour.

Shy children may be excellent observers and quiet meticulous workers. They are happy in their own company and can spend hours in their own imaginary creative world. As they grow up, they may end up having only a handful of friends but they are happy to spend their time with them. They do master the basic social skills along the way and are respected for the quality of their work. Their work speaks for them. Believe us when we say so.

So as parents, our prime focus should be on ensuring that our children are basically civil, courteous, social human beings. We then need to step aside so that they can find their feet in their own time in this lovely world!

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