Shyness and Your School-Aged Child

Some children are naturally outgoing while others are more selective in their friendships. Most parents accept that. But how do you know if shyness is a problem for your child, and what are some strategies for overcoming shyness?

Overcoming Shyness

It is causing a problem for the child, such as preventing them from making friends.
There is reason to believe it is a sign of underlying anxiety or depression.
In those instances, you should probably seek professional medical help to understand the situation and develop coping strategies.

But otherwise, you and your child might be able to find ways to overcome shyness at home with the following tips:

Shift the focus. Talk about your shy child’s special strengths. Your child might not be a social butterfly but may be a great listener who is always there for friends. Take time to emphasize strengths that may be underappreciated.

Assess the shyness. Find out if the shyness appears to others to be something more negative, like snobbery, and come up with ways to address that misunderstanding.

Practice new situations. Help kids anticipate situations with new people — have your child practice strategies to use during these situations with you.

Plan conversations. Work together to come up with some ideas for things your child can talk to other children about.

Highlight body language. Encourage your child to make eye contact and smile when talking to people.

Rehearse overcoming shyness. Urge shy kids to write down what they want to say in a phone call, conversation, or presentation, and practice saying it out loud.

Join the club. Find groups that are doing things your child enjoys, such as sports, art, drama, or outdoors activities. Sharing a common interest will give your child a way to meet new people in a low-pressure environment.

It also helps just to let your child know that everyone feels a bit shy or awkward sometimes. “Acknowledge it a bit,” .Everyone feels awkward in new situations, like a new school. It’s okay to feel a little bit awkward, but realize it’s likely to pass.”