How to Help Your Shy Child

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Shyness is common in young children and most kids will become shy at some point. However, it’s important that your child’s shyness doesn’t prevent them from gaining the social skills they will need as adults or impact their mental wellbeing in any other way. 

Of course, there are pros and cons to being shy and while you should encourage them to be studious and well-behaved, you should also help them to expand their social circle and build their confidence. 

Address Any Underlying Issues

Some children are shy because they are aware that they aren’t like others and so they don’t participate because they are worried about standing out. Children with speech impediments, for example, may choose not to speak because they struggle but with speech pathology, they could make significant improvement. 

For some children, learning to accept and celebrate differences is the best approach to take. We are all different and weird in our own ways and while bullies might try to take advantage of our insecurities throughout life, teaching that to be different is good from a young age will help. 

Support but Don’t Judge

The best thing you can do for a shy child is show your support. You will love them whoever they are and that is a really important message to get across. But it’s also important that you don’t judge them to be shy and then simply accept that they won’t make friends easily. Labelling a child as shy could be damaging because it establishes their highly reserved behaviour as normal and it may lead to social phobia later on. 

One of the best things you can do to support a shy child is show that you are there for them. This means listening without judgement and making gentle suggestions for your child to follow. Just as you would learn about a mental health condition to show your support, you should also consider what sort of challenges your shy child might face and work together from there.

Aid Personal Growth

Children become shy for all kinds of reasons so it’s important that you recognise why they might be shy. For some immature children, finding friends their own age may be more difficult and for aggressive shy children, learning to make friends can be even tougher!  

One good idea is to follow your child’s interests. If they are engaged in an activity they enjoy with other children, they are more likely to have something they want to talk about and engage by themselves. However, it’s also a good idea to run through some social scripts so that they have the foundations of conversation ready. This might sound weird but we all have to learn to be social and a shy child may just need a little more instruction. 

Most of all, helping a shy child requires patience. Nothing happens overnight and your child still has plenty of time to catch up to their more outgoing peers. For some, social skills simply take a little longer to develop but with time and support from you, there’s no reason that their confidence won’t grow.


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