When I received my daughter’s evaluation from her teacher, I found out that she didn’t really socialize well. Her teacher feels that she needs to be around other people because her shyness was keeping her from communicating effectively. I learned that there were instances when she didn’t talk to other kids, or when she would just shed a few silent tears. I didn’t really have an inkling that she didn’t socialize well because she is actually quite the opposite at home.
A child’s reaction in an unfamiliar environment or situation may depend largely on his or her personality. Children have very different temperaments, and while other kids can easily make new friends, or play with other children, there are others who may shy away from social interaction.
When a child feels shy, the way he reacts to other people can be affected. It is common for babies around 5-6 months of age to exhibit temporary shyness, and even young kids aged 2 years old may also show the behavior. However, if shyness is still an issue for kids older than 6 years old, it may already signal a problem.
The cause of a child’s shyness may be linked to genetics and to his life experiences. Although around 20% of individuals have the genetic tendency to be shy, not everyone eventually develops a shy temperament. The way a person responds to life events also has an impact on the way he will react to similar situations. A child’s behavior can also be greatly influenced by the examples being set by his parents.
Although shyness is normal, it is actually something that parents should never ignore. If a child is not encouraged to overcome shyness, it can greatly affect his self-esteem and self-confidence. Furthermore, he may miss out on many significant opportunities that life has in store for him.
In helping your child overcome shyness, small gradual changes may be more beneficial. Let your child dictate the pace on how he will react differently to new situations. If you force your child to learn sociable behaviors right away, it may only make him more withdrawn.
It can also really help if you prepare your child before a particular event. If he has an idea on what to expect, it can greatly lessen his anxiety. Listen attentively to your child’s fears and show empathy. Teach him social behavior, and you may even start practicing at home before heading to real social events.
Try to get your family involved in social activities in your community or church, and let your shy child handle small tasks that can foster socialization. Your child may initially feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, but if he goes past this stage, he may be more at ease in conducting himself in a social event. Always praise your child for even the smallest steps. What’s truly important is that he is exerting effort in overcoming shyness.
Bear in mind that it may take some time for your child to adjust, so it’s really best that you don’t force the issue. When he’s ready to do more, you can encourage him to participate in school and other social activities, where he can learn to socialize independently. Help your child choose the activities that he’ll participate in. If a child does well in a particular activity, it can greatly boost his morale.
It is also important that you work closely with your child’s teacher, so that your child will not become an easy prey to school bullies. A healthy learning environment is also essential, so that a child can handle his fears and insecurities effectively. Sometimes it is difficult to let our child explore the world unguarded. But without opportunities for growth and room for risks, he may not learn how to deal with the life’s many uncertainties.
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