Everyone has felt a little shy, sometime. When you’re faced with people you’ve never met or try something new in front of others, it’s quite natural to feel awkward or self-conscious.
Kids are no different, and it’s common for most kids to feel shy at one time or another. But if you sense that your child has more than just a little trouble talking to others or trying to fit in, he could be “socially inhibited”—what experts call quiet kids.
Socially inhibited children usually find it hard to make friends, and could have a hard time in class. Kids whose social skills aren’t fully developed may be easily intimidated and be rejected by the more outgoing school majority. Even if these kids get great grades, the way they relate to other kids in school could affect their outlook on studying.
Here are few suggestions for giving quiet kids more chances to shine:
1 Give them some space.
For starters, try not to call your child “shy”, especially in front of others. Calling him shy might inadvertently make him more shy, or give him an excuse for not socializing. Don’t force him to make friends or talk at gatherings.
Quiet kids might also have a poor self-image and be afraid of rejection. To build their self-confidence, encourage them to do things on their own and praise their accomplishments. Encourage them to express themselves and listen appreciatively.
2 Give them a supportive atmosphere at home.
Having a warm and caring environment can help quiet kids to come out of their shell. Make your home a fun place where your child can feel comfortable with other kids. Home is also a good place to practice skills like singing or reading aloud that they may feel shy about at school.
Giving your child good examples of how to handle themselves in social situations is one of the best things parents can do. Try bringing him with you when you go out, and find ways to let your child join in conversations with others.
3 Give them chances to interact.
Making sure that your quiet child has opportunities to interact with others will help develop his social skills. You can start with a small group. Depending on your child’s interests, you can set up play dates, sign him up for team sports like football, or suggest clubs or summer camps. Seeing the same kids regularly will also help make it easier for quiet kids to make friends.
4 Get in touch with the teacher.
Talking to teachers and tutors about your child’s personality can help you find ways to support him in school as well as at home. Ask the teacher whether your child participates in classroom discussions, volunteers or does anything else that encourages him to reach out to others, so that you can reinforce those actions at home.
Compare how your child acts at school and at home. See if you can arrange a visit to your child at school to observe how your child gets along with others, and whether the activities there suit your child’s personality.
5 Get to know shyness and introversion.
The words “shy” and “introverted” are often interchanged, but they are actually different. Introverts like being alone, doing things like reading, painting or playing an instrument. Introverts can also have very good social skills, but need to rest by themselves after socializing. Shy children don’t always choose to be alone, but have a hard time approaching other people.
While there are ways to help kids get over their shyness, introversion is a part of a child’s personality that can’t be taken away. Trying to change a child who is naturally introverted to become more outgoing might be stressful and cause other emotional problems. Talk to your quiet child to find out how he feels about making friends—maybe he’s the type who would rather have just a few close friends than become the most popular kid in school.
Giving special attention to quiet kids is also important as quietness could be a sign of learning difficulties in math or reading. But the key thing to remember is that being shy isn’t always something to worry to about, and that quiet kids have qualities like tact or humility that all of us could learn from.