For shy children, making new friends can seem pretty scary. Some kids can feel uneasy in a social setting — choosing to not participate in activities or only sticking close to their parents.
This kind of shyness can lead to missed opportunities for friendship. Try these tips help your child deal with his shyness so he can talk to others and build friendships.
1. Practice social skills with your child.
You can boost your shy child’s confidence by letting him practice his social skills in various situations. If your young child is buying something at the store, have his pay the cashier. If your family is out getting ice cream, let him order whatever flavor he wants. Let her know she did a good job when she does. By having your child interact with others while you’re there, you can put him at ease. In turn, she may have an easier time in situations when you’re not present.
2. Have an opening plan with him.
If your child is nervous about the first day of school or attending a birthday party, map out a plan with him. Having a list of topics to talk about. If your child likes baseball and the conversation is about sports, let him know that he can join in and talk about his favorite teams. Finding common ground and talking about his hobbies are great ways to get him excited about talking to other people.
3. Praise and reinforce efforts your child made on his own.
Make sure to compliment your child when he does something that’s outside his comfort zone, no matter how small. Laurie Adelman, author of Don’t Call Me Shy, writes that parents should keep an eye out for positive behavior and praise their kids for it. Let him know you noticed when he said “hello” to a neighbor or offered to share a toy with a classmate. Recognizing positive social efforts will allow your child to be more comfortable and excited about interacting with other kids.
4. Model friendly behavior In front of your kids.
Kids will often imitate their parents, so if you show them you can be outgoing, they will most likely follow suit. If your child observes your chatting with the cashier or smiling when you greet new people, he sees that it’s okay to do the same. You can assure him that interacting with others isn’t as scary as it seems and he may actually enjoy it.
5. Try one-on-one playdates.
A group of people can be intimidating for your child so maybe he’ll benefit from getting to know somebody on a one-on-one basis. Dr. Michele Borba, a parenting expert, writes that a timid child can gain confidence by focusing on one friend at a time instead of being overwhelmed in a group. You child can feel less pressure to socialize and can soon be able to increase his comfort level with being around a number of friends.
Preparing your child with the right tools can empower him to make new friends all over the playground.
Adelman, L. (2007). Shyness Expert: Back to School Advice for Parents and Teachers of Children Who are Shy. Retrieved August 10, 2014 from thereadingtub.com
Child Shyness: Help Your Shy Kid (WebMD) Abedin, Shahreen. Retrieved from WebMD