Having a shy child can be a concern for parents: will they make friends? Will they get behind at school? Will they get bullied?
Here are 5 tips that parents of shy children can use to support their child and help them develop as individuals.
1. Do not label your child as “shy”
If the child is called ‘shy’ by others they may accept the label and conform to it, a self fulfilling prophecy.
They may unconsciously think “because everyone says I’m shy, I need to act like a shy person does. That means not talking to adults…” Labeling a child as ‘shy’ reinforces their shyness!
So what do you do instead? Say things like: “Sarah is having a quiet day today, she sometimes likes to think things through in her head before speaking but other times she’s more brave” – here you are doing the opposite, labeling the child as brave – which works in the same way as a self fulfilling prophecy.
Unconsciously the child thinks: “if mummy says I’m brave that means I’m brave, and I need to act like a brave person. That means saying hello in a brave way to Mrs James”
Tell adults/children around the child not to call the child shy.
If an adult or child calls the child shy in their presence, dismiss the comment by saying something like “that’s not true, Sarah is brave a lot of the time”. Later have a word with the person asking them not to call the child shy in their presence again.
2. Do not put pressure on your child