Do you remember your child’s first day in big school? Did he put the death grip on your leg? Did he look afraid, anxious, and uncomfortable? He is just probably shy. It is a common personality trait, not a fault. In fact, some are born with it. An infographic by PlaygroundEquipment.com shows 15 to 20% are born shy and a majority of them will remain shy as they grow older.
The state of not being socially comfortable tends to stay with kids up to the time they are teenagers. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health reveals that nearly half of American teenagers consider themselves shy. Parents, however, need not worry. The study debunked fears that shyness equals social anxiety. Lead researcher Dr. Kathleen Merikangas said shyness is “normal human temperament.” Social anxiety or social phobia renders a teen or adult paralyzed during social situations that it affects how they function on a daily basis.
Shyness and being socially awkward is something common and can be resolved over time. Help your kids overcome shyness by doing these simple steps.
First of All, Don’t Label Him “Shy”
Stop telling your shy kid that he is shy and stop introducing him to your friends and their kids and then tell them “Oh, my boy is shy.”
You need to understand that being shy is normal and you should not feel bad for your kid. Most kids just do not know how to behave in social situations. Some take more time to adjust than others. Instead of wrecking his confidence by making excuses for his “condition,” tell him that it is normal if he needs to warm up when other people are around. Assure him that next time he won’t even need to hold your hand anymore. Remember to say this like you really believe it.
Don’t Put Him on the Spot
Do not put him in a situation that will make him want to hide under your skirt and pee in his pants. Do not volunteer him to sing, dance, and clown around during events and parties. Some kids are a natural for these sorts of things but many kids just hate it. Accept that nervousness affects most people, your kid included.
Don’t make him feel like he needs approval and validation from other people. Don’t make him feel that his shyness is a sign of weakness or worse, that people value him less because he is shy.
Act It Out
Teach your kids social skills and how to respond to social cues like a smile, handshake, and eye contact. Some of these skills do not come as fast and as naturally to some children. Act out situations like how he should introduce himself to other kids, how to join a game in the playground, and how to fit in instead of barge in. Try to make these sessions fun and practice at home.