For those of you who don’t like to read lengthy articles, the answer to the question “is help for the shy child necessary?” is NO! So if you have a shy child, do not get worried that there is something wrong with him/her. Being shy is a personality trait.
If you do like reading, continue on and I will discuss why a shy child does not require any kind of therapy. I will also share some tips for how you can make the world a more comfortable place for your little introvert.
I am mom to a very shy daughter. And a not so shy son. They have both been raised the same way by the same 2 parents, so it most definitely seems that shyness is a personality trait.
My daughter is now 8 and is starting to come out of her shell more and more each day. She no longer fears new social situations the way she used to. She has many friends and loves having “parties”! She still finds it difficult to talk to adults, but she has come a long way from the shy 2 year old that she was.
I still vividly remember dropping my daughter off for her first day of daycare when she was close to 3 years old. She clung to me and cried and cried. Eventually she stopped (after I left) and was fine for the rest of the day. She attended daycare once a week for the next year and a half.
According to the daycare teachers she didn’t speak to them until the last month. Then, when she chose to speak it was always in a whisper and she would use only a few words at a time. Her teacher told me that if they hadn’t known my background was in Speech-Language Pathology, I would have received a phone call expressing concerns with my daughter’s ability to speak.
This went on during her Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten years as well. Her teachers were lucky if they heard her voice. However, she did start speaking when spoken too. She was also overheard speaking to 1-2 classmates that she felt very comfortable around.
Why Help For The Shy Child Is NOT Necessary
- Being Shy Is Who He/She Is – some children are outgoing and some are not. How often do you hear a parent say “my child is outgoing, should I be concerned?” Probably never. Our society values extroverts and leaders because they stand out from the crowd. Being outgoing is often associated with being more successful, usually because extroverts are more likely to try new things, whereas introverts like what is familiar and comfortable. But I can assure you that there are many successful introverts. I, like my daughter, was extremely shy as a child. Sometimes to the point of awkwardness. However, as I got older and more comfortable with the world around me, I came out of my shell. Most people would never guess that I was shy as a child.
- Shy Children Are Very Observant – because shy children do not like attention placed on them, they take everything in around them. Shy children are always learning from others. Even though they might not engage in conversations they are very aware of what is going on around them. I was very surprised at how well my daughter did in school (JK and SK) because she never participated much. Her teacher said that she has seen this many times with shy children.
- Shy Children Are Sensitive To Other’s Feelings – these children are very aware of their surroundings and know what makes others happy and sad because they are always watching. Shy children also tend to be quite emotional. They treat others with kindness and demonstrate empathy because of their own feelings.
- Shy Children Are Creative/Imaginative/Innovative – their minds are always going and thinking because they aren’t busy talking. Shy children can spend a lot of time on their own coming up with many imaginative play scenarios.
There are many famous people who are self proclaimed introverts. Many of them found ways to overcome their extreme shyness, but others did not and embraced it. Some of these include Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates and many more.
Tips/Advice For Parents With A Shy Child
- Allow your child to be who he is. Don’t look at being shy as something negative, because it isn’t. It is just one of many personality styles.
- Don’t label her as “shy” because shyness is not a disorder that needs to be fixed. Try not to draw attention to the shyness, rather accept your child for who she is. Let her know it is OK to not want to talk all the time. Help her find social situations in which she can be comfortable. For example, set up play dates with friends you know she is comfortable with. If your child is young and the environment is new, stay with your child the first few times. Then slowly try to distance yourself.
- It may take your shy child longer to do some things than expected. Prepare your child by easing her into situations. I knew my daughter would have a hard time going to school which is why I found a great daycare program for her to attend one day a week before starting school. I went with her to check out a few different programs before deciding on the one I thought would be best. I knew that I wasn’t going to home school her so I wanted her to be comfortable being without me before attending school on her own.
- Don’t overprotect your shy child. He needs to learn how to adapt in social situations. Prepare him as best you can. If talking in a big voice causes him anxiety, allow him to answer questions by speaking quietly. However, try to encourage your child to make eye contact with the speaker as this is very important in social interactions (in Western Cultures especially). But don’t push it.
- Try not to feel embarrassed because your child comes across as awkward. Also, avoid making excuses for your child. I know from personal experience this can be difficult. We all want our children to fit in. But by feeling embarrassed and making excuses to explain your child’s behavior you are basically saying that there is something wrong with your child. Children are smart and they can pick up on these things.
- Shy children will learn how to cope in the world. Some outgrow their shyness whereas others learn to use it to their advantage. If you have a shy child and you need to send them to a daycare program from a young age, be prepared for many tears. This is OK. Your child will make it through this period. It will probably be more difficult for you having to see your child like this.
When A Shy Child Is Too Shy
If your child expresses extreme fear in social situations despite the situation no longer being new or has emotional outbursts in social situations thus trying to avoid them, your child may have social anxiety disorder. Or your child may have selective mutism which is a much more extreme form of “shyness”, where a child will not talk in certain situations for an ongoing period of time. If you think that this might be your child, please seek the advice of a professional such as a child psychologist.
Do you have a shy child? Were you shy as a child? Do you have any tips for parents of a shy child? Do you feel that help for the shy child is necessary? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!