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Shyness in children - how to overcome shyness

Updated on November 16, 2013

Shyness in children

Shyness results in children in them losing out on a number of activities and opportunities. Shyness involves anxiety and inhibition in certain social situations. While most young children seem to be shy of strangers and unfamiliar situations, they seem to adapt better with exposure and a little effort on the side of parents to make them feel secure. However, some children never seem to grow out of it and carry this behavior into adult life. Studies indicate that prevalence of shyness increases with age. The prevalence rate goes up from 20% in grade one to about 50% when they reach middle school. This gives us hope that if you do the right thing at an early age you could prevent your child from being shy for life. You could make your child’s life richer by helping him/her.

Shyness in children
Shyness in children | Source

How to overcome shyness

As parents, you could do a lot to help your children overcome the problem of shyness.

You could start by explaining to your child that being sociable has its advantages. You could make this more meaningful to them by explaining that he/she could have more friends to play with - all children do love to play. You could talk to your child about other activities he/she loves which would involve other kids. My son loves to read and he would often ask me about those authors. I would use this opportunity make the activity seem more fascinating to him by talking about ‘meet the author programs’ or book releases where he could meet the author and other children who love the author. His curiosity got the better of him and he ventured out to such social gatherings, slowly stepping out of his shyness. You could do similar things in such a way that it motivates your child to be more outgoing. Giving examples of how you overcame your own limitation and how you now enjoy life by overcoming them would make more sense to your child.


Causes for shyness are still not clear. There are theories that suggest genetic factors, social environment, disabilities, psychological trauma and parenting styles etc have a part to play (for more information read this article on Shyness). Is shyness bad? I would like to say no, but the fact that it robs a child of a happy active, childhood could only be classified as such. Shy children have the lowest likelihood of getting into trouble at school. They do not want to be noticed and keep a low profile. They are observant and intelligent, understanding and concentrating much more than the other sociable children.

Were you shy as a child?

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Be a role model. Teach your child with your actions. Let them see you enjoying social interactions or activities that put you in the limelight. When children see that you are struggling with anxiety and uncertainties, they tend to pick it from you. Take the trouble to be the first to begin a conversation or greet others. Your children observe you more than you give them credit for. Being friendly with your neighbours and colleagues would motivate your child to put into practice what he or she sees.

Do not label your child. When you introduce your child to others do not say he/she is shy. Labelling your child as “shy” gives your child the excuse not to make an effort to come out of the shyness. Instead, you could mention how courageous he/she has been with emphasis on the times your child had put in the effort.

Do you think such support as mentioned here in this article could have helped you as a child?

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Increase the social learning experiences. Having parties, story
reading events, playdates with neighbours or friends, etc could help. Have a practice session before the event, where in you could role play the event as a game to reduce anxiety. Increase social outing and make these experiences more frequent to familiarise your child while supporting and motivating him/her to do better. Slowly widen the circle of social activity. A piano recital in a friend’s house or a little singing competition with other kids etc, depending on your child's talents, could all help in the process of socialization.

Encourage your child to focus on his/her strengths. You could help your child by refraining from comparisons and by only giving positive feedback, while actively encouraging your child to be outgoing.

Praise, appreciation and encouragement are all they need to become more confident. You could take it upon yourself to tell your child everyday how good he or she is in some activity. This serves as an affirmation from you to motivate your child do her best. Such affirmations help build confidence and faith in themselves.

Don’t push, if you push them they become more fearful. Lead by example and support, even nonverbal support is good enough. Give them responsibilities that they can handle and encourage them in their task. These confidence building measures go a long way.

Enlist the support of their teachers and work with them. If teachers could ask them to read, narrate stories, recite poems etc, and positively encourage, the children become more bold and confident. Being included in small parts in dramatics that do not call for long dialogues could help change the very nature of your child. Teachers could always praise their children for good behaviour and refer to them as examples.

Do not expect miracles overnight. Change is always slow and requires patience on your part. Perseverance and consistent effort will prove to be beneficial in the long run and your child will thank you for it.

Comments

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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      5 years ago

      Becky, I understand your fears. However, if you could teach her to be proud of herself and excel in what she does best, she would not have so much of that need for acceptance. Studies however point out that shy children tend to avoid risks. Sometimes it is parental anxiety that pushes them to do the thing they should not. Relax and let us hope all will be well with your little daughter. Enjoy your little girl and let her know how much you appreciate her. Her will surely become more secure. Thanks for dropping by to share your concern and questions. Best wishes to you and your little one. God Bless.

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 

      5 years ago from Florida

      My oldest (5) is very shy and to be honest I worry that she will get sucked into the wrong group of friends in later years simply because she yearns for acceptance from her peers (she's also socially awkward at this point in her life). I tend to agree that shy children get in less trouble in the early, formative years but those years aren't the ones that scare me . The years that scare me are the ones where they are no longer in my presence all the FREAKING time and start to develop their own groups. This is where I'm afraid my daughters shyness will get the best of her and she will look to any "clicky group" for acceptance. Only time will tell....

      Some good points in this article! Thank you!

      ~Becky

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Thanks Denise. I did have a lovely time... Hope you had a good weekend yourself!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for the explanation. Good for you. Enjoy your get away.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Denise, I should say I coped well with my shyness but was able to overcome most of this only about ten years ago.. it took a journey of self awareness and realization to get me out of this. I do have my moments of shyness even now.. but the day I did my first public speech was the day I got liberated. Thanks for asking.. have a lovely weekend.. see you next week as I will be away for a few days.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      That is interesting, Sofs, that it took those many years for you to overcome your shyness. I say that, because often it gets resolved when we have children. Shyness is so painful, as a child and then again as an adult. I know I was not shy but had shy moments. I empathize with much compassion, watching the anguish of those who are shy.

      What changed for you?

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Denise, thanks for that comment. Glad that you were not shy... I was pretty shy and I could only overcome shyness about ten years ago...and Gosh what a relief it has been. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. God bless!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful and useful information about a very sensitive subject. I like your suggestions. I was NOT shy, go figure, haha, but that was not the case of all members in my family.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Incomeguru, thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. I guess with shy children arrogance may never be a huge problem. I appreciate the point you may though. Have a lovely day. God Bless!

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      6 years ago from Lagos

      Your advice that we should encourage them to always be the first to start a conversation is a good solution to stop shyness. However, they need to note that as they're building confident, it has to be without being arrogant.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Ruby, You were lucky that your urging just got him out of the problem... many parents really have to work hard with shy children... I did not have much trouble either.. but I still have to remind my son that he needs to be more sociable. Have a wonderful day. Thanks for all the support. :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Teaches12345, Thank you for stopping by and leaving that comment. I am sure that some teacher reading it somewhere might be inspired. Have a lovely day. Take care.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Perspycacious, Thanks for that great appraisal kind sir! Have a great day.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Kramerjbrandon, I appreciate that very much thank you. Have a lovely day!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very helpful hub. My Son was shy in the first grade. His teacher wrote on his report card, " Social participation needing improvement." I discussed this with him, urging him to join in activities. She wrote on his next report card, " Frequently disrupts class activities. " We laughed about this not long ago.. I guess i urged too much.HaHa..Thank's for sharing..

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I was a shy child in elementary school. It was only through the support and care of some wonderful teachers that I came out of my shell and became self confident. Great hub topic and one that will help parents who may have a shy child.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Your wonderful Hub did not fall shy of the mark.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Greenblood, Thank you! It is sweet of you to stop by and notice that is is indeed my hub#200. I have not had the time to celebrate being in the middle of this challenge .. I will shortly. I appreciate the greeting.. An achievement of sorts for me, yes. Thank you so much and best wishes to you. Have a great day!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR

      sofs 

      6 years ago

      Kimberly lake, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am glad that you have overcome most of your shyness. I have too, in many areas. I am glad you liked the hub. Take care and have a great day.

    • Greenblood profile image

      Greenblood 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Congratulation for 200th Hubs ...200 articles and hub score 100 ....Isn't that a remarkable achievement?

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 

      6 years ago from California

      Awesome Hub . I was very shy at times when I was little and I still can be in certain situations. I agree that it can be partially genetic because my son is like that too, some days shy, some days outgoing. Good Hub and advice.

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