Today’s article is going to focus on shyness. Unfortunately, I had quite a bit of experience with this as a youngster. It’s my contention that a child isn’t born shy or outgoing. There are specific reasons a child develops these traits. Though I may not be able to turn a shy child into the life of the party immediately, I hope what you are about to read can assist you with how these traits can happen and how to help a shy child be a bit more outgoing.
1. Modeling is so important
The first thing I can tell you is that the apple usually doesn’t fall far from the tree. My mother, for example, really kept to herself. It wasn’t until I because an adult though that I realized what was going on and how it affected me. Because my mother never modeled how to be outgoing, I never really learned. To be honest, it wasn’t until I married my highly outgoing wife that I realized being outgoing wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
Now that I have children, I go out of my way to be social. I am friendly to most people even when I am in a crummy mood. This is especially true when my children are around. I know that they are always watching what I do and taking internal notes.
2. Join a sports team or club of interest
Children are immersed in social situations from the first practice until the end of the season. Even as a shy child, I came out of my shell on a basketball court because I wanted to participate. For example, when a child passed the ball to me, it was a form of social acceptance and it made me want to return the favor. Because children like to have the ball passed to each other, it opens opportunities for communication.
3. Make sure your child is comfortable
Another way to help shy children is to place them in a social setting on their own turf. For example, my oldest child just threw a birthday party for about 15 children at a local basketball gym. Naturally, he was the center of attention and he loves basketball. Although my child is far from shy, the point still stands. Inviting other children to your home or a social setting can help your child feel comfortable which will bring him/her out of their shell. You can always start small by calling one or two parents your child has mentioned; then expand over time. Make sure as well to develop relationships with these parents so your child can see how easily making new friends can be.
4. Move beyond their comfort level
This step should only be taken after point 3 is established for overly shy children. A tactic my wife and I also used for the birthday party was to take a class list of the entire 2nd grade- not just our child’s homeroom. My child invited a boy who liked basketball who wasn’t in his class. The boy wound up coming to the party and had a great time. A few days ago, this boy’s mother called my home to ask if my child could attend a basketball game with their family. Therefore, encouraging my child to go beyond the boundaries of his own class has probably landed him another buddy.
There is another point that goes along with this. Referring back to point 1, it’s very possible that you will have to move beyond your comfort level in order to model the behavior appropriately. This is not easy because many of us are stuck in our ways. For the sake of helping shy children; it’s a very important step.
Although there isn’t one sure way to help a child become less shy, the points mentioned here should place your child on the correct path. If you have any ideas that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to include them in the comment section.
My next article will come the following Friday. Feel free to include your email address on the right side of the page to ensure you’ll never miss a post. Until then, remember that a child can always use an extra hug. Best wishes!