About 82 percent of adults have admitted to be shy in some point of their lives. Shyness is a common trait and not a disorder. It just means that the child is going to take some more time in getting comfortable in a new situation or bond with new people. Celebrities like Tom cruise, Julia Robert and Hrithik Roshan have admitted to be a shy in their childhood.
Shy kids have lack of social skills which projects them as anxious and awkward. They don’t take a keen interest in group activities and hence have very few friends. Due to lack of enthusiasm in group activities they can come across as snobbish whereas the truth is like every other kid they are warm and compassionate only scared to reveal their true self.
Why are some kids shy?
Some say shyness is a genetic trait and some say it’s a learned reaction. It is a combination of both. In a recent study conducted it was found that only 9 percent of the kids are shy and introvert in almost all conditions. For the majority of them the degree of shyness depends on the situation they are put in.
How to know if your child is shy?
If your child is little anxious with new situations, in meeting new people, reluctant to play in a group, you are a parent of a shy kid. Well it’s nothing to worry about.”There are three things we look for with shyness,” says Barbara Markway, PhD, author of Nurturing the Shy Child (St. Martin’s). “There’s behaviour — avoiding eye contact, turning the head away, or hiding behind the mother. There are physical manifestations of anxiety — heart racing, blushing, or crying or thrashing about for a baby. And finally, there are thoughts and feelings. Older kids say things like, ‘Everyone’s staring at me’ or ‘I don’t know what to say.’ It doesn’t go away either. It’s an enduring, recurring thing.”Another marker for shy kids is that they are usually the best behaved of the lot as what others think of them matters alot to them.
Role of a parent
The parent of a shy child has to strike the perfect balance between accepting their children and encouraging them to be more accepting of other people and situations. “The ideais not to eliminate shyness but to help the child work within her own personality to do the things she wants to do,” Markway says.
Here are a few everyday activities that the parents and teachers can use to help the childrendvelop social skill –
- Practice introductions- the toughest part for a shy kid is to start a conversation. Make them practise introductions so that they have an instant ice breaker. Parents can set up a good example for kids by greeting people around them and introducing themselves. “Hello my name is – pleasure to meet you.” This will be perfect way to kill the demon that social conversations are in the head of a child and also add to their list of good manners.
- Positive Role play- shy kids usually have an over active imagination and they end up imagining the worst case scenario possible for every new situation. Communicating with them and telling them the possible positive outcomes will soothe the anxious them and keep their fears at bay.
- Tell them about yourselves- for children, parents are can do nothing wrong. Telling them about your life instances and how you dealt with them is an excellent way to bond with them and boost their morale without being preachy.
- Be empathetic- a shy kid usually has a fear of rejection and hence hides their true emotions. Being empathetic to them will make them feel accepted and understood. If they feel anxious before going to a new class or meeting new people, tell them that you understand how tough it is for them. This will also make it easier for them to understand and express their emotions.
- Remove labels- calling a kid “shy” over and over again makes them adopt that role. They make this label a part of their identity. When someone calls them “shy”, try and negate that label by saying “kids usually take time to open up.” When someone asks them a question and you see them struggling with answer, prompt them the answer. This will not cause a dent in their confidence till they develop their social skills.
- Practice what you preach- children learn the most from their parents. Parents who themselves don’t like talking to strangers, calling people over will see their kids mirroring the same behaviour. Parents should try and set up a model of outgoing behaviour. Greet people in grocery stores, talk to neighbours, and interact with kids if your child feels shy. This will ease them into social settings and help them mingle.
- Appreciation- the best way to motivate a kid is by rewarding them with words, treats, anything they love. Even if it’s a small achievement like telling the guests who have come over home his name; tell them you are proud of him and how good he are doing. This will give his confidence a much needed boost and also make them feel accepted.
- Connect with emotions- shy kids have a tough time understanding and expressing their emotions. One way to help them understand emotions is by talking about it. For instance “I feel happy when you smile” or “I miss you when you aren’t around”. Eventually the child is also going to learn the art of expressing their feelings and emotions.