Many children are considered shy. Shyness can be a help or a detriment to a child – it may depend on how it is handled.
Shyness is a personality trait. Many who are shy are the nicest, as they tend to be attentive listeners and display a welcome presence even without saying a word. Shyness can help a child.
It is not necessary to apologize for a shy child, especially when the child is around.. There is nothing wrong about being shy. Many people who do not understand shyness often liken being shy with having a problem. They believe a shy child may suffer from poor self-image – an unfair assumption. Many shy children have a solid self-confidence.
Parents still worry when their child becomes quiet in a crowd. Is the child just shy or is there a serious problem? There is a way to tell. A shy child with healthy self-worth makes eye-to-eye contact, is polite, and seems happy. The child is just quiet and behaves well, is nice to be around, and people are comfortable in the child’s presence.
Some “shy” children are deep-thinking and cautious. They are slow to warm up to strangers. They study that person to see if the relationship is worth the effort. Shy children often have such inner peace that their shyness is one way of protecting it.
When Shyness is a Handicap
In some children, shyness is the manifestation of inner problems, not inner peace. This child is more than shy, withdrawing, avoiding eye-to-eye contact and has behavioral problems. People are not comfortable in the child’s presence. When you investigate this, you may discover the child operates from anger and fear instead of peace and trust., One may even find the child has a lot to be angry about.
Some children hide behind the shy child label, so they do not have to reveal themselves. It is safer not to show anything, so they retreat into a protective shell. The “shy” label becomes an excuse for not developing social skills and a reason for not exercising them. The unmotivated child can use “shy” as a defense against trying harder and an excuse for staying at the same level of skill development. For these children, shyness is a handicap, reinforcing a weak self-esteem. To cure the shyness, you must build up the self-esteem. This child needs trust-worthy parents, who discipline in a way that does not lead to internalized anger and self-dislike.
Parents ask what to do about their child’s shyness. Is it just a passing phase? Should the child be encouraged to become more outgoing? Is there a more serious underlying problem?
The following may help:
First, recognize that you are blessed with a sensitive, deeply caring, reserved child who is slow to warm up to strangers, approaches social relationships cautiously, but generally seems to be a happy person.
Though tempting to want to help the shy child, be careful—the more you pull, the more some children recoil. You cannot pull a child out of shyness. Creating a better and more comfortable environment that lets the child’s social personality develop naturally. Never label a child “shy.” If you must use words to describe your child use “private” or “reserved” These are nicer and more accurate terms. Labels also affect the way others treat your child.
The already self-conscious child is likely to become even shyer when visiting others. Tell the child ahead of time what is expected, a simple “hi” and quiet, polite behavior. Do not ask more than you can reasonably expect. Keep the attention off the child and allow the child to get comfortable independently.
At T’s Learning Center, providing full-time child daycare in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, we work with children when parents (and teachers) help them understand shyness and overcome anxieties.