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Wednesday, September 22, 2021 by Steven Auger

How to Connect with a Shy Child

Every child is unique. They all have different personalities and different needs. Such stark differences often occur between siblings. One kid talks to anyone anywhere while another is guarded and shy.

But there’s nothing wrong with being a shy kid. Follow these tips to learn how to recognize if your child is shy and ways you can help them connect.

Shyness Signs

There are a handful of typical signs that are associated with shyness in children. Here is a list of what to look for if you think your child might be shy.

  • Clings to mom or dad in social settings
  • Avoids answering when unfamiliar people talk to them
  • Has trouble making friends
  • Avoids answering questions in class
  • Passes on the chance to play with peers
  • Sits by themselves
  • Keeps head down and avoids eye contact
  • Appears uneasy in new situations

If your child exhibits a few of these behaviors, they probably are shy. But that will clue you in on learning how to help a shy child connect with people.

More than Shyness

There are a handful of instances when a child appears to demonstrate shy behaviors but there is an underlying issue masking as shyness.

Some children have language delays. They show signs of wanting to communicate with others but struggle to do so.

Other kids have an undetected hearing impairment. That prevents them from hearing or responding to what others say. It also makes it difficult to follow instructions.

Autism is another issue that makes children appear to be shy. Autistic kids might show minimal interest in socializing or they’ll fail to recognize social cues altogether.

Consult your child’s pediatrician if you suspect a bigger issue than shyness. Once you’re fairly certain that your child is just shy and that there aren’t any underlying health issues, implement these strategies to help them open up.

Let Them Know They Aren’t Alone

Experience in life tends to be the best teacher. Think back to parts of your life where you dealt with bouts of shyness. Maybe you were starting a new job, or you were the new kid in school? Whether you were a shy kid or simply had the occasional episode of self-doubt that everyone does, tell your child about those times.

Parents have the most influence when their children are young. Show them that you had the same issues as they have now, and you will inject them with a confidence boost. Your kids will conclude that if it can happen to mom or dad, then it can happen to them too.

Don’t Use the “S” Word

Shyness in children really is not a big deal. But as with any subject, the more you discuss it, the more it becomes a thing. The last thing you want is for your child to feel as though being shy makes them walk around with a cloud over their head.

You can prevent this by avoiding labeling your child as shy. Once your child can put a finger on what shyness is, that can create the feeling of carrying a stigma. Simply let your child be who they are without them feeling labeled as shy.

Practice Socializing

Repetition is one way people learn. If you practice socializing with your child, the act will become more natural to them when placed in social situations.

Show them all the little nuances of talking to someone new: look them in the eye, shake hands upon meeting, and practice a standard greeting when meeting someone new.

Try Not to Over-Protect

One of your jobs as a parent is to expose your children to as many experiences as you can. You can provide them with the opportunity, but they must take the initiative to navigate that experience. Sometimes they will succeed and sometimes they will not. The success they discover in social situations will carry over.

Let Their Personality Shine

Your child is so much more than the shyness. That is just one small personality trait. Encourage your child to let their other personality aspects shine. Accentuating all the other positives about your child will help them grow as a person.

Children develop at their own pace. So, there is a good chance that a shy child won’t be shy forever. Helping them learn how to connect with you, and their peers, just might be the start they need.