How to help your toddler overcome shyness
Shyness can be quite a problem for children who are afflicted by it. These children can be lonely at school because they are anxious about making friends and being in uncomfortable situations, and this leads to behaviour that can have a negative impact on their own self-esteem and also can be awkward for their families. Here are some ways to assist your toddler in overcoming shyness.
1. Be empathetic
It’s a scary world out there for a toddler. Don’t be negative about your child’s shyness, but instead acknowledge how they are feeling – if the child feels like there is something wrong with her then she’ll become even more withdrawn.
2. Role-play social skills
Eye-contact, speaking up and making polite conversation are key social skills that can be practised! Practise the motions of meeting new people with your child, and this will help him to make new friends and join in games. It’s okay to feel shy – nervousness is a normal part of life – but they should also behave politely.
3. Promote interaction with others
Particularly if your child is an only child, make sure she gets a chance each day to interact with other people, and be encouraging of any progress made – point it out and emphasise the good behaviour.
4. Don’t label them as a shy child
Defining your child by shy behaviour won’t help. Saying “Oh, he’s shy,” as an explanation for behaviour or engaging in discussions in front of him about shyness won’t help. Telling him “don’t be silly” or other negative labels won’t stop the behaviour. Consider using other words to describe the behaviour, such as “reserved” or “thoughtful” instead of “shy” or “quiet”.
5. Avoid speaking for your shy child
If your child is reticent about speaking, don’t speak in their place. If they’re asked a question, encourage them to answer. If you jump in you will encourage her not to user her voice, and to rely on you more.
The key is steady, positive encouragement. It may take a while for your toddler to come out of their shell, but continued praise and small challenges will help them to gradually grow in their self-confidence and eventually manage unfamiliar situations without an uncomfortable scene.
Vivienne Egan is a writer for kids crafts company, Yellow Moon.