How to Help a Shy Child Socialize
March 05, 2019
Supporting an Introverted Child
You may have noticed that your child isn’t a social butterfly. Having a child who’s shy can often cause parents to worry, though there’s often no need to. Still, there are ways to make sure quiet kids get the attention they deserve, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Show Care, Not Concern
It’s normal to be concerned about how a child deals with social interaction. If you find your child is shyer at school or other social settings than they are at home, you may question why. When talking to them about their shyness, it’s important you approach them with understanding rather than from a place of concern. If children get the sense they aren’t like others or there’s something about them that needs to be changed, it may make them uneasy.
You may also want to talk to your son or daughter’s teachers to get more insight on their behavior at school. And while you might have difficulties understanding your shy child, their teacher has likely had many experiences with students just like yours. Encourage your child to build a trusting relationship with their teacher, and this will make a huge difference in their school day. It’s important your child knows they can go to their teacher for anything.
Knowing When Your Child Needs Help
Some people may tell you your child needs to speak up more or come out of their shell. But forcing timid children out of their comfort zone is often a mistake and could make them feel like they can’t be themselves. Usually, factors can tell you when a child is content with their quiet nature, including:
- They prefer playing and working on their own
- They choose to have a few close friends
- They’re hesitant to try new things on their own
While you may be wary of these things at first, this is typical behavior. Still, there are some instances in which shyness could be problematic, such as when:
- There are feelings of anxiety around others
- A specific event has caused a shift in personality, and the child no longer feels they can be themselves
- They dread any social setting, especially school
- The child isn’t able to express themselves
- Panic attacks, sweating, nausea or other physical symptoms are present
Instead of simply telling your child to speak up, make sure that they know when it’s necessary to voice their feelings and give them the confidence to do so.
If Your Child Wants to Make a Change
Have a discussion and see if your son or daughter expresses a desire to overcome their shyness. If your child has aspirations to be outgoing, take steps to build their confidence.
Give examples of ice breakers. For example, they can talk about a hobby, their favorite subject in school or their pet. These examples can easily apply in different situations and are topics that most children can relate to.
Make teachers aware your kids are making an effort to be more sociable. School is the perfect setting to practice social skills. Teachers can help influence your child by making them the line leader, calling on them in class or rewarding outgoing behavior.
Slowly introduce them to new social activities. Don’t assume that once your child starts opening up, they can face new situations head on. It’s a process that will take time. In the beginning, try to involve them in things that’ll have familiar faces.
Sign them up for an activity they like or have interest in like a sport, drama club or weekly art class. While they’re socializing, they’ll already have something in common with others and will naturally have more to talk about.
Organize a play date or sleepover with a new friend at your home. Interacting with others in a busy environment like school can be intimidating. Setting up a get together at home will let your kids connect with someone new in an environment they’re comfortable in.
Recognize their efforts and victories. Praising your child will reinforce their goal and encourage them to keep trying. When they’re doubtful, remind them of a time when they were brave, or ended up enjoying something they once feared.
You know your child better than anyone. Give them advice that won’t overwhelm them. Listen carefully and give strategies that make them feel empowered and in control in any social setting. Give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and if there are any strategies they aren’t comfortable with yet.
If Your Child Is OK with Being Shy
Maybe you spoke with your child about what you’ve noticed, and you realize their shyness is just part of their personality. Even their teacher reassures you that your student is happy and comfortable in class. Though they’re already comfortable in their own skin, a little extra encouragement on your part can make all the difference.
Give them the tools to advocate for themselves. Shyness can become an issue when it threatens emotional or physical safety. Teach your child to know the difference between situations when they can choose whether or not to speak up, and when it’s necessary. Explain that these are the times when they’ll have to be brave or seek help from a trusted adult.
Realize that it’s even more powerful when they do speak. If your child chooses their words wisely, listen up when they do have something to share. To encourage them to speak more, assure them you know they have something important to say and their voice matters.
Remind them they aren’t alone. Many prominent leaders are introverts. It’s important children know they’re still capable of being leaders and confident in their own way. Give them the idea to look for other kids at school who also tend to be more quiet if making friends has been an issue.
Assure them you love them either way. Making children feel accepted at home is the first step to them accepting themselves. If they know you are behind them, this will help give them the power they need to use their voice when needed.
Being timid is a trait many children have at one point or another. After all, they’re still figuring out the world and their place in it. Shyness is often just a phase, and soon they may surprise you and turn out to be more extroverted. On the other hand, introversion could simply be a part of their personality. No matter what, it’s important to embrace every piece of what makes your child uniquely them.