Helping Your Child Not Be So Shy

Many children are shy. Some are shy from the first day they are socialized, while others become shy over time, influenced by social conditions. Shyness is simply discomfort experienced in social situations. Many children are not sure of themselves when faced with the prospect of interacting with others, fearing rejection, bullying, and many irrational fears largely unknown to those that have already grown up. Many parents, both mothers and fathers, single or married, find that their children are shy. Many also grow far more concerned than they need to be about their child’s shyness; this can in many cases cause them to overreact, provoking even deeper senses of insecurity and shyness in their children. However, with that said, there are ways by which parents can help encourage their children to be more social and less shy.

Parents will do well to remember that their children are not cookie-cut beings, and they are not going to conform with or without coercion to any template society or their parents dictate–even at a very young age, before their psychological faculties and self-awareness are completely developed, they are individuals with their own needs, wants, drives and fears. As many a child has become more shy as has become more social from their parent simply thrusting them into social situations.

To help a child become not so shy, remember first what shyness is. Shyness is not the same as antisociality. It is a fear of rejection. They cannot overcome this fear simply by being put through a social crucible and forced to interact with others.

The best way to encourage a child past their sense of shyness is simply that–to encourage. Provide the child with the opportunity to interact with others, but don’t put a wall at their backs and force them into situations they will find uncomfortable. Discomfort is inevitable in new and unfamiliar situations; this does not need to be driven home with the impossibility of escape.

It is important to remember that humans are naturally social creatures. Shyness is a barrier to sociality, but this does not mean that it is the parents’ responsibility to break it down. It is their responsibility to allow it to be broken down; try to never restrict your child’s social life, within necessary limits, and never, ever provide arbitrary restrictions without explanation. Simultaneously, allow them to overcome their own shyness and find their own comfort zone. They will over time, with support, rather than drive.

Helping a child overcome his or her shyness is simply a matter of keeping them social at their leisure and pointing them, rather than pushing them in the right direction. Many a parent with good intentions has become overbearing and strove too hard to see their child become a social butterfly when they’d much rather have a small collection of dear friends to share their books with. Not every child will grow up cut out for a college fraternity; likewise, not all children will grow up to become social leaders. Parenting around shyness involves protecting and supporting the child while he or shy finds their own way through the world, and negotiates their own terms with which to handle their peers.