Health Matters Spring 2022 | Page 9

How parents can help kids overcome shyness

Parents typically discover if their children are outgoing or introverted around the time the child is 3 or 4 . Kids who stay on the sidelines at parties or hug tightly to their mom or dad ’ s legs may be shy .
Even though shyness isn ’ t a bad thing and introverted children have wonderful qualities to contribute to the world , being overly shy can prevent kids from having their voices heard — especially if they are being bullied or someone has violated boundaries . Parents can help shy children come out of their shells with a few simple strategies .
• Discuss new places and people . Prepare children for new situations , which can be overwhelming for children
who are shy . Talk about what is expected in a new classroom , moving to a bigger school or even a family party with a lot of people in attendance . Touring a place in advance can make it more familiar to a shy child , helping him or her feel less anxious .
• Buddy up with other shy kids . Parents of shy children can seek out others in similar situations . A friend to hang around with in new situations can make it much easier , as these two children can rely on one another .
• Try not to label the behavior . It ’ s one thing for you to understand your child is shy , but sharing that classification with others could lead to unwanted labeling that further exacerbates the problem . A child who constantly
hears he or she is shy may not make an effort to change his or her behaviors .
• Empathize with your child . Give examples of when you were feeling shy in certain situations . Explain the emotions and how you overcame them with time , suggests the Children ’ s Hospital of Los Angeles .
• Model confident behavior . Whenever you can , be outgoing in front of your children when meeting new teachers or other children ’ s parents for the first time .
• Provide opportunities for children to express their feelings . Whether children can voice their feelings or can express themselves through pretend play or artistic endeavors , Corner ’ s One Learning Center suggests
making it safe and comfortable for kids to share with you .
• Offer praise as often as you can . When a child acts bravely , tell him or her about how proud you were when you get home or to a private place . Doing so in private may help the child feel more comfortable and less embarrassed .
• Speak of different clubs or activities . Suggest your child participate in various group activities so that interests are explored and new friends can be made .
Shyness is something many children grow out of over time . In the interim , parents can provide support .
— Metro Creative Connection
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