Being shy is different than being an introvert. We can define shyness as a feeling of anxiety and insecurity in the face of different social situations for fear of being judged or rejected. Introverts are reserved people who prefer contact with few people and tend to focus on their own thoughts and feelings, however, this will not cause them any discomfort.
Being shy is not bad, so long as it does not cross a fine line and become a social phobia or anxiety disorder.
7 pieces of advice to help our little ones overcome shyness
1. Teach your child what shyness is
Today, without a doubt, is the best time to start. Talk to your little one about the normal feeling of shyness, why it happens, how it is expressed in the body, and the consequences it can have. Sometimes parents take for granted that their children know everything when in reality, their knowledge is only the tip of an iceberg.
2. Act naturally
Forcing or insisting on participating in certain social behaviors – ”Go and play with the kids”, ”You need to go to the birthday party”, and labeling them with expressions like ”they’re a shy kid” will end up being counterproductive. The only thing this will achieve is more anxiety and, inevitably, a less willing attitude in the future.
3. Prepare for difficulties
A good antidote to confronting situations that will produce more anxiety is to anticipate them. Do you know how to do that?
- First, with your child, write down all the social situations that give them anxiety and put them in order from least to greatest.
- Then, take the one that creates the least amount of anxiety and come up with a plan to cope with it.
- Challenge completed? If so, move on to the second situation, if not talk to your child about what happened and how you can try again. Remember: In life, either you win or you learn, but you never lose.
4. Accentuate the small steps
Every day, shy kids struggle with dozens of situations that make them nervous. The consequence? Their self-esteem begins to crumble when they see that they are not able to deal with it. Why not start by reinforcing every spontaneous gesture that your child tries?
5. Look for opportunities
Offer different situations where your child can interact with other kids. For example, going out to eat with other families, team sports, or leisure activities.
6. Be a role model
Taking care of your little one and establishing limits is good, but overprotection is not. Give your child wings to fly, encourage them to take on the world without relying on you. Explain the consequences of their actions but admire their independence. It is always easier if you live with someone who has a positive and tenacious attitude.
7. Play with them
Play, besides its playful component, is a fabulous way to work on social skills. Some exercises to help your little one:
- Role-Playing: Play by taking on different roles, for example, teacher and student, sales assistant and client.
- Dance and sing as a family: but take it further and try different styles – salsa, Top 40, rock, country – and see how fun it is!
- Pull the classic board games out of the closet. These games, besides being helpful on the educational and cognitive levels, are also a good way to work on emotions and communication. Learning to win and lose, talk to friends, respect turn-taking, and all while having fun!
I hope these pieces of advice help your child to overcome shyness.
We must be aware that the goal will always be to provide our little one with the tools that allow them to interact and communicate with their social environment but never changing their personality.
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