Renuka is a mother of two kids, 3 year old son Rehan and 5 year old daughter Rachita. Rachita is extremely timid and shy. What worries Renuka is that although Rachita has been attending school for the past six months she has not made any friends yet; she comes home complaining that no one plays with her and is not very keen to go to school. In front of strangers she is tongue-tied and tends to cling to her mother outside home.
Rachita is just one of the many children who are shy.
Why deal with Shyness in children?
Understand why and in what situations the child is shy
Children are shy in different ways for different reasons. Is your child shy in groups? At parties? Meeting new people? In novel situations, or pretty much everywhere? Does your child have trouble eating in public? Playing with other children? Making phone calls? Is your child only shy when she/he has to make a presentation in front of the class at school? Knowing the nature of you child's shyness will help you identify the specific skills your child needs to be more at ease in social situations.
Set an example for the child
Children learn a great deal through observing the behavior of parents and others. Parents who want their children to act more outgoing should themselves act outgoing whenever possible in front of the children.
Teach social skills early
When it comes to social skills, the earlier you begin teaching them the better. The prevalence of shyness among children is believed to increase with age.
Encourage your child to meet new people and make friends
Give your child an opportunity to know other people in family and school. Encourage participation in sports and other activities. Help the child practice interacting with others. Some children do not know what to say in certain situations, such as when they meet a new child. It's surprising how something as simple as helping your child learn to smile and say "hi" to other children can make a difference. Expose the child to unfamiliar settings and people. The more practice they get interacting with unfamiliar people, the faster the shyness will decrease. Prompt the child to interact with others, in restaurants while ordering, at airports asking for information, or just thanking the shopkeeper.
Make Them Feel Secure
Shy people tend to worry a lot. They are afraid things won't turn out the way they want them to and therefore avoid social interaction for fear of rejection. It's hard for a child to see that failure is a natural part of learning.
Help the child understand that it's okay to make mistakes
Let them feel secure and know that you are there for them. Make them understand that everybody fails at the start and it is okay if they take their own time in learning things. One of the most important things you can teach your children is that failure provides the feedback we need to become good at the things we choose to do. The ability to see failures as feedback---as information about what we need to do next---strengthens our confidence by reminding us that just because we didn't succeed at first, doesn't mean we won't succeed in the end
Identify talents and hobbies that give them opportunities to grow
Encourage your children to develop passions early in life. Remember that the more things your children do in life, the more things they will have to share with other people and the easier it will be for them to connect. For a shy child, the ability to connect with another child is what they need to develop in order to overcome shyness.
Identify activities that take advantage of your child's strengths. Is your child athletic? Artistic? Neat and organized? Good at math? Loves to read? Good at building things? What holds his/her attention? What is least likely to discourage him/her? And find activities that take advantage of those strengths.
If your child is very shy and unwilling to attend group activities, start with solitary activities at first--like music lessons, arts and crafts projects out of books, practicing basketball in a hoop at home. Then, as your child gains more confidence, arrange opportunities for him/her to get guidance from other adults and gradually---to share their interest with children their own age.
For example teaching your child to kick a ball in the park might increase his/her confidence when playing with other children in the neighborhood and eventually lead to your child's willingness to consider joining the school football team. Or learning to play a musical instrument might start off as a solitary exercise, but lead to your child playing in the school band. Encourage your child to share his/her expertise with others by performing, teaching, or just showing their work. Many children benefit from the experience of teaching their skill to children who are younger than them.
Prevent labeling of the child as "shy". Children who are told that they are shy tend to start thinking of themselves as shy and stop making any effort to change. With sensitive and patient handling most children can be helped to overcome shyness.
Though shy and timid children are easier to manage, extreme shyness, if not overcome early, can lead to a low self esteem in children and overall inhibition of personality development? Children, who do not overcome their shyness while growing up, become lonesome adults later with poorly developed social skills.