Being shy can be painful for the person who is, as well as for their loved ones. It hurts a parent to know how being shy can affect their child’s entire life. That’s why it’s important to teach your child to speak up. Helping your child overcome shyness is not as difficult as you may think.

It’s not unusual for babies to go through a period of being shy as they’re beginning to speak, between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. The problem occurs when they don’t out grow that stage. Helping your child overcome shyness is best started whenever you realize they need help, so it’s never too late.

Attachment to a parent is one cause for shyness in babies and toddlers. Older children may be teased or criticized which leads them to shy away from social situations. While being shy may be good in that those shy children misbehave less, being shy means your child will likely have fewer friends, avoid situations where they’d be in the public eye, and often feel lonely. Shy children can also develop anxiety problems as teens as well as gastrointestinal issues.

Since children learn most by what they experience and by copying those around them, it’s always good to set a good example. How you respond or act in social situations can often determine how your child will act.

Initiate conversations rather than waiting for someone else to do it. Talk to and be friendly with the people you see at the grocery store. Introduce yourself when you meet new people. Although it’s wise to teach your child to not talk to strangers, help them realize that if you’re with them it’s alright to do so. Be willing to help people and join in social events.

Try to prepare your child for social situations such as birthday parties, family reunions, or visits to the doctor. Explain how there will be people who will want to speak with them and that you expect them to respond. Give them the opportunity to talk about their feelings to help ease their anxiety.

Give your child positive reinforcement. Tell them how much you appreciate a certain trait, that you’re glad they are your child, and give praise when they’ve had a success. Keep the lines of communication open and really listen to what your child has to say. They may find talking to you or another caring adult will make overcoming shyness easier.

Try to role play with your child if they’re going to be experiencing a new social situation. Pretend to be a stranger and start talking to them. Encourage them to ‘play along’ so they’ll have a chance to practice.

Avoid the inclination to answer for your child when they’re spoken to. In fact, allowing your child to do things for themselves in social situations will bolster their confidence even if they do stutter or stammer. Don’t allow their ‘shyness’ to be used as an excuse for getting out of situations they don’t like or doing things they don’t want to do.

You may know about how shyness can affect your life if you were shy as a child. Teach your child to be able to speak up. You can use some of these ideas or seek professional help. They know how to help your child overcome shyness but if you’re diligent to encourage them, they may be able to overcome it on their own.