Are you worried that your child isn’t making  many friends? Could it be that he is shy or introverted? You may think these two terms are interchangeable , but don’t confuse shyness with introversion. Introversion is a personality trait, whereas shyness is rooted in anxiety during social encounters with unfamiliar people.  Introverted kids can be content and happy in their own bubble, while shy kids are not necessarily introverted. They may want to interact with other kids but the crippling anxiety and feeling of embarrassment is getting the best of them. You want your child to thrive in social situations. You want to see her  be comfortable when interacting with others.The great news is that being shy can often be outgrown and there’s a lot you can do to help. Here are a few simple tips to help your child overcome shyness. 

Prepare a shy child  for new places and situations

New places with unfamiliar people can be overwhelming to children who are shy. Help your child ease into these situations by discussing ahead of time  what he can expect and slowly introducing him to the new environment. If your child is moving up to a bigger school, help her overcome shyness by letting her meet the teachers and visit the classrooms before the first day. You can also do a quick tour around the campus to give him a feel for the environment without the pressure of being around other kids. This is where he’ll be spending most of his time, so getting accustomed to the new environment can help him  be more comfortable in time for classes to start.

You may also consider  setting up playdates with another child so  your child can have a buddy to hang around with at school. You can also help your child by role playing  what he can do or say when meeting other kids.

Give your child opportunities to express her feelings

Just like anyone, children who are shy can have some trouble expressing their feelings. This can lead to them feeling misunderstood, which can result in difficulty  releasing pent-up emotions as they grow older. 

As a parent, you may encourage your child to communicate his feelings by creating activities that allow him to speak up about how he feels about a situation. You can ask your child to express himself creatively through drawing,or use pretend characters to tell a story about a similar situation to the one that he’s in. He doesn’t necessarily have to put himself in the center of the narrative,but being able to express himself in this manner – even indirectly –  will help your child feel that he is heard and that he can be comfortable sharing what he thinks and feels with others. 

No matter what, don’t tell people your child is shy

Telling people  “My kid is shy” can be an easy disclaimer that you say to people as an excuse for your child’s behavior. However, this can sometimes be more harmful than helpful to your child. Labeling her this way can lead your child to believe that she’s shy and there’s nothing that can be done to improve the situation.. He may even use it as an excuse for not pursuing anything that  causes him feelings of anxiety. This can lead to your child missing opportunities and avoiding social environments just because they are uncomfortable. 

Referring to your child as “shy” with others can also be confusing and embarrassing for a child. As a parent, you want to encourage children to try new things and develop confidence as they conquer the world with each new milestone.By constantly telling people that your kid is shy, this will only affirm your child’s doubts about what he is capable of doing. 

Teach your child to be polite despite being nervous at a situation

Being shy is never an excuse to be disrespectful. It’s important to teach your child to be polite regardless of feeling shy . This must, of course, come from a place of love and understanding. You are also acknowledging  that your child feels uncomfortable in situations with new people.

Help your child understand that being shy and maintaining her boundaries are okay, but being rude isn’t. They may not realize that being shy can sometimes come off as rude. For example, ,people may seem unfriendly if they don’t politely respond to others and just ignore friendly gestures. Teaching  children how to appropriately respond in social situations, despite feeling anxious, takes them one step further in overcoming shyness.

Give praise and correct behavior in private

Have you ever seen a parents berate their children in public? It feels uncomfortable to anyone who’s just watching. Imagine how uncomfortable it feels for the child on the receiving end. The last thing a shy child  wants is to be in the spotlight. If you need to address or correct your child’s behavior , it is best to do soin private. If you want to praise a shy child for good behavior, he may appreciate it more when it’s done in private. Whether the attention is positive or negative,  both can be embarrassing for your child when attention is given in front of others. Whatever your feedback , save it for when you are alone. 

Do not overwhelm a shy child with too many options

Shy kids are often shy because they are afraid of feeling awkward around others. This can happen when they are given too much free rein in any given environment.   An unrestricted opportunity to do anything can be overwhelming for them. You can help by narrowing down the options to just a few choices .. Examples of this approach include  asking him to share specific recent experience they’ve had or giving them a small handful of options of activities from which to choose.  

Enroll her in Performing Arts Classes

Despite how it may sound initially, enrolling your child in performance arts classes can help them overcome shyness. You may think, “Why would I put my child onstage, when he doesn’t want attention on him in the first place?” 

Participating in performing arts is a great way for your child to act behind the “mask” of a character he is playing. Remember how we discussed asking your child to express his feelings by telling stories with pretend characters? Performing on stage  can give him the opportunity to play a character, which can take the pressure off. 

Activities like sports, classes and workshops can also have a similar and positive effect, as these create a venue for kids to socialize while staying focused on a certain task. 

Overcoming shyness can take a lot of work but by applying these simple strategies, you can help your child gain more confidence and rise above any given situation. 

And if you’re looking for a reliable partner in helping your children become the best versions of themselves, Cornerstone Learning Center just might be a good fit for you and your family! With three locations in the Greater Memphis area, including both Olive Branch and Southwind, you can rest assured that your child’s education will never conflict with their values,with your own. Find out more at Cornerstone Learning Center.