Shyness does not have a standardized definition in the dictionary and cannot be defined by one or two words. Bashful, frightened, timid are just a few. Most definitions incorporate feeling uncomfortable in social situations. The simple act of recognizing and understanding a child's feelings can create an environment that feels safe or safer to a shy child.
Fifty percent of the adult population in the United States is shy. Most people are embarrassed by their shyness and keep it hidden. They somehow believe they are different than everyone else. Incorporating the following tips will go a long way to help bring a shy child out of their shell.
- Portray shyness in a positive light: Compare your shy child to other shy children who have grown up to be successful adults. For instance: Abraham Lincoln was extremely shy as a boy and was afraid of girls. Even movie stars like Tom Hanks were painfully shy. Explain that shy people can be more courageous than the average person. It takes more energy for a shy person to do the same things an outgoing person can do.
- Keep communication lines open on a daily basis: A shy child will feel closer to the family. All it takes is a smile, comment or even a question to make a big difference. The key is not to make your child feel singled out and different from other kids.
- Encourage a shy child to join an extra curricular activity group: Shy children need to feel like they are contributing to a cause and they need a reason to interact with other kids their own age.
- Compliment them on their accomplishments publicly: Most shy children crave attention but shun it at the same time. This is why it is important to be careful when drawing attention to them. The hit and run approach works best. Don't give them the time to struggle or respond. “Great sweater. I really like it. What can I do for you?" Move forward and know that you did a good thing.
- Reward small improvements: Most shy children blossom when challenges are broken into manageable chunks. It's their anxiety that gets in the way of their development, not their intelligence. Many shy children learn to overcome their fears when it is made clear that failing is part of learning.
When shyness goes unnoticed or rectified, it can have a distressing influence on an adult child's life. It is possible for shy children to become introverted adults and miss out on many opportunities in life because no one ever demonstrated that shyness can be overcome.
"The way to overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid. " Claudia “Lady Bird" Johnson.
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