March 21, 2013

Overcoming Shyness: Children’s Development

I have a four year old who is quite shy.  People around me thought that the reason for him being shy was that I don’t let him out too much.  I can’t make any excuses, but to be honest, I wasn’t able to bring him outside because of two main reasons:  I’m too tired to follow him around after a day full of house chores and we don’t have a place conducive for outside place because of the constant vehicles passing by.

Photo Credit: She Knows

It’s a good thing that we are staying at my parents together with my sister and her two daughters who are in the same age group as my son.  He do have playmates, once in a while I ask some neighborhood kids to come and play with him in our yard as long as I don’t have too much to do.  I need to look over them.  Boys play rough and I don’t want the kids hurting themselves.

He is in school, and manages well with other people and children. Though he needs to get used to the grown ups before he settles.  We also bring him to the mall and let him interact with other kids.  Bringing him with us to gatherings helped a lot too.  To be able to achieve this, I read a lot of online articles and forum to see how other parents deal with shy kids.

Here are a few concepts I’ve learned from reading.

WHAT IS SHYNESS?


Shyness is a personality trait and not a fault.  Kids being shy should not be taken negatively.  Sometimes, shy children are better at deep thinking.  Rather than putting themselves out there, they tend to be more observant.  Shy children often remain silent at unfamiliar places and people. Bashfulness may just be a stage or phase.  You may be wondering how one bubbly baby becomes shy.  There are factors you need to consider before “labelling” your kid as shy.

Shy children tend to behave more.   They are polite and make eye to eye contact. People are comfortable around them.  Though shyness is a personality, it may pose a more serious behavioural problem.  You need to look in deeper to see the difference of a shy child who is happy and peaceful and the kid who dwells in anger and fear.  Usually, kids of the latter often withdrew.  They often hide and retreat thinking that it is safer not to show anything.  They often have difficulty gaining playmates and friends of the same age group.

For most parents, like me, would want their kids to outgoing and sociable.  I can deny being a stage mom every once in a while.  It is sometimes frustrating but learned accept that kids are different.

So what did I learn to help my kid overcome shyness?  Here’s a few:

Don’t Force. 


Never push your kid too much. I am guilty on this.  I used to push him towards performing in school activities.  This only made things worse.  He didn’t feel safe and didn’t trust anybody.  He ended up retreating and often just stood on stage while his classmates performed.  The following activities, I make sure to “encourage” him rather than push him.  And even if he didn’t do anything, I still made sure I appreciate his presence.

Be A Role Model.


I, myself is timid around new people.  So to help my kid, I needed to be confident.  I socialize more and participate in activities in school events and gatherings. I make sure he sees it as we all know, kids learn from watching us.  This method not only shows that it is safe to be with other people, but it also helped me build my confidence. That’s two birds with one stone!

Seek Out Activities That Offer Interaction.


This doesn’t need to be costly.  There are a lot of activities that you can bring your child that will enable him to interact with other people.  A good example would be bringing them to playgrounds.  My in-law lives in a much better community that offers a playground and basketball court that is free from vehicular traffic.  We bring our son there atleast once a week to play with other kids as well as visit my in-laws.  First few attempts were unsuccessful.  He played all by himself and refused to talk with the other kids.  After a while, he started to warm up and played with the other kids.  Even to those he didn’t recognized.

Hug Your Little Blessing.


Never stop comforting your little man.  This builds up self-esteem.  Hugging your children at every opportunity makes them feel special.  Kids that feel they are worthy has more self-esteem and confident.  This is easier for moms.  We tend to think of them as babies, can’t blame us, right?  But as much hugging we want to give them, we need to know when to avoid comforting them at every little upset they experience.  Too much always is not good.  Know the boundaries.  We want them to feel special but not clingy and too dependent.

Teach Social Skills At Home.


This is harder than we think.  Typically, we do things lightly at home. We sometimes overlook social skills at home.  Suggest solutions whenever your kid encounters problems and offer rewards accordingly.  Let them sort out their problems on their own.  Encourage your child to feel what they feel.  Ask them questions and let them know that it is okay to feel good or bad.  Together with this, you can teach them about tolerance and respect by telling them what is right about other people, avoiding negative comments.

Never Put Your Kid On The Spot.


This doesn’t only mean putting them in front of other people.  This also includes preventing them from being embarrassed. Don’t humiliate them in front of other people.  If you need to discipline them, talk to them away from other people. Never hit, scold or shout at them.  This behaviour will put your kid on the spot.  

Along with this, don’t berate yourself as they see it as something negative about you and themselves.  Always offer constructive criticisms towards other people.  That way they see criticism in a positive perspective.

Those are just a few concepts I am applying for myself and for my kid.  There are a lot more to help us and our kids overcome shyness.  Just keep these key points to successfully overcome shyness:

  • ·         Avoid shyness as an excuse for your child’s behaviour.  There are deeper things to consider.
  • ·         Avoid using the term shy to label your kid.  If you really need to use it, pair with something positive.
  • ·         Always believe in your child’s inherent self-worth.

Again, shyness is a personality trait.  It is not a bad thing if your kid is shy, he might just need a little encouragement.  However, if you feel there is more to being shy, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional.
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3 comments:

  1. thanks for this article. I was once a shy person thanks God I already overcome it especially the time I go to work abroad away from my family.

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  2. Nicely said. I also have a 4yo who is a bit shy, especially around people he doesn't know. I don't worry too much about that. I was also shy as a kid and I hated when my mum was pushing me to socialize. And I've also done some research myself :
    http://kiddilemma.blogspot.gr/2012/08/introverts-vs-extroverts-or-why-are.html
    http://kiddilemma.blogspot.gr/2012/03/whats-your-name.html

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  3. Thanks Mireille for visiting. Checked out your blog.

    ReplyDelete

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