Expert Parent Advice

Helping the Shy Child Shine

5 Tips to Help the Shy Child.

If your child is shy or anxious about social situations, you may wonder about the best strategies to help him.  We want to honor him for who he is and not change his personality, but at the same time, we want help him feel comfortable in social situations and be able to experience life to the fullest.

I’m Amy McCready with Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series. 

Today, I’ll recommend 5 tips to help the shy child minimize anxiety in social situations.

 1. Don't label your child or let others label her as shy. When Mrs. Jones asks your child a direct question and she hides behind your leg, resist the urge to cover for her and say, “She’s a little shy.” When we label children as shy, they are more likely to assume that label and act shy. Don’t let Mrs. Jones label her by asking “Are you shy today, dear?” When others try to label your child, simply say “She’s not shy; she’s just not terribly talkative today.”

2. Practice social skills. Role-play talking to people and looking into their eyes. Encourage your child to focus on the color of the person’s eyes, as this makes your child appear more interested and confident.  Practice using a big voice when you meet someone new and extending a hand for the other person to shake. Practice the words to use when meeting new friends such as,  “Hi, I’m Emily. What’s your name?”

3. Arrive early for parties or gatherings. This gives your child time to warm up and connect with one or two people before others arrive.

4. Don’t pressure or rescue. When your child refuses to answer, don’t coax her to answer or answer for her. Just continue on with your conversation and trust that your child will jump in when ready.

5. Provide opportunities to practice interacting with others on a daily basis.  Certainly don’t over schedule your kids but plan play dates (one-on-one play dates may be more comfortable to start) and enroll her in classes you know she’ll enjoy.  Give plenty of opportunity to practice her social skills and encourage her efforts (no matter how small) along the way.

For more strategies to help the shy kids feel more comfortable in social situations, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

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I’m Amy McCready for Kids R Kids, and I’ll see you next time.