How can I Help my Shy Child?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 January 2019
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Shyness is a situation that just about all children deal with to some degree. While there are children that are so overcome with shyness that he or she cannot function, the typical shy child may simply be having a difficult time adjusting to changes in the home or school environment, or be in need of some confidence builders.

The first thing to understand about a shy child is that very few situations actually involve a deep rooted social phobia that cripples the child’s ability to interact with others. More commonly, the child may be perfectly comfortable interacting with parents, a sibling, and perhaps one or two close friends. In these types of situations, a lack of confidence may be at the root of the shyness. There are two basic ways to help build that confidence level and help the shyness to begin to recede.

First, recognize that the shy child may simply be an uninformed child who hesitates to get involved because he or she does not know how to interact in a given social situation. For example, a young boy who does not seem to care for engaging in a baseball game with the neighborhood boys may be lacking in a working knowledge of the game. Wishing to not appear unintelligent before his peers, it is easier to simply avoid the situation and stay home.


Most people do hesitate to try something new when there is no prior knowledge or understanding of the basics of the task. This trait is magnified in children, who are easily stung by ridicule. If the shyness seems to be due to a desire to avoid the unknown, then equipping the child with knowledge will make a big difference. In addition, allowing for practice and implementation of the knowledge in a safe zone, such as the back yard, will start the child on the way to taking some chances and reaching out.

While many children are perfectly comfortable with tasks, he or she may not feel comfortable socializing with others. Again, if the shy child does well with parents and other trusted loved ones, lack of confidence may be the root of the shyness. Arranging for one or two classmates to come for a play date that is specifically for a particular activity, such as swimming in the back yard pool, may be a way to help the child increase his or her ability to interact socially.

The trick is to combine planned activities with a location that the child considers safe. The combined activities will provide a focus so there is something to talk about, and the safe place helps the child to feel in control of the interaction. Over time, the emphasis can move from planned activities to simply getting together. From there, the shy child may begin to exhibit the desire to participate in activities outside the customary safe zones.

A shy child may feel as if he or she has to be talking all the time to interact effectively. Help your child to understand that a big part of socializing is listening to what other people have to say, and learning to ask questions that help stimulate others to talk about their interests. Not only does this allow the child to share about himself or herself once a comfort level is established, it also allows the child to learn more about other people. Learning that others may have similar thoughts can often build bridges and make it easier to interact with other children.

Of course, a shy child who does not respond well to these sorts of encouragement may in fact need to be evaluated for social phobias. Often, a school counselor can recommend a therapist who will evaluate the child and determine what types of treatments are in the best interest of the child. Whether the child simply needs more knowledge and confidence to begin interacting with others, or whether professional help is needed, the good news is that shyness can be treated and overcome.


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Post 1

The tone of this article is dead on in terms of being supportive of your child, but what many parents don't recognize is the fact that 25 percent of the people in this world are born introverted. This is not bad, in and of itself. Being outgoing has aspects that make it both a strength and a weakness. Shyness is the same way. Instead of labeling your child as shy, talk about it as a feeling or passing thing.

A person can be shy in one situation and not shy in another because it is not something that has to define us.

If you do have an introvert, there are ideas online about how to rethink your stance on shy and encourage your kids to develop the necessary people skills.

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