How to help a shy, insecure or anxious child: Our Psychologist advises

How to help a shy or anxious child

 

Does your child take a while to warm to new people and unfamiliar situations? Lots of children, especially preschoolers are shy, reserved, timid or even feel anxious or insecure when they meet other kids for the first time, start a new school or go to a birthday party and don’t really know anyone else.

Some children are naturally more shy than others and there is nothing really wrong with that. However, shyness can become a problem if it makes your child miserable, unable to sustain friendships or perform at school. Our Psychologist advises what you can do to help your child overcome shyness.

Why are some children shy?

Michele says: ‘Parents often ask me why their child is shy. For instance, James is happy and secure, and talks all the time when he’s at home. When he goes to preschool, he doesn’t want to talk to his teacher and while he talks to his classmates, he doesn’t participate in group situations.”

Some children are naturally shy – they may be born with a shy temperament and find it “slow to warm up” to others. They are cautious in new situations and need support and reassurance from an adult to help them to feel safe and secure. However, while these children are inhibited, they tend to become quite observant and will learn from what they have seen. They will think through situations carefully first rather than jump right in. Quite a good skill to have, don’t you agree?

It’s quite common for a shy child to have one shy parent. Genetics may play a part but the behaviour may also be learned or modelled from the most important people in their lifes. Some children are shy because they have not been exposed to many social situations. During their early childhood, they may not have interacted or had the opportunity to meet many people and as a result, the world seems scary to them. Children who haven’t interacted or played with other children, may be shy with their peers but more comfortable around adults.

Parents may also push their children into new situations before they are ready and expect too much from them too soon. The child then withdraws and becomes fearful because he or she did not enjoy the experience. In other cases, parents are overprotective and fearful and the child becomes fearful and lacks confidence.

Lastly, children may be shy because of underlying emotions or feelings of hurt, sadness, anxiety, guilt or shame. In cases where shyness stems from emotional concerns, it is very important that the root cause of the problem is addressed.
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What you can do to help your shy child   

Learning to understand why your child acts shy is the first step to helping him or her.

  1. Remove the label “shy child”. 

Don’t label your child as shy and discourage others from doing so too. Children trust their parents’ judgement and if they hear you say that they are shy, they will believe and feel that they have to live up to that expectation.

  1. Modelling non-shy behaviours

One of the most useful ways to help a shy child is through modelling behaviour from those who mean the most to them. If you tend to be a bit shy and reserved, your child may model your behaviours. It is therefore very important that you make the effort to show your child how to express yourself when interacting with others. A simple role play of introducing yourself to someone by shaking hands, smiling and making eye contact can also help to show your child how it is done.

  1. Help your child gain confidence

Encourage your child to make decisions and help him to learn new skills so that he becomes more confident and is on par with other children his age. Give your child responsibilities such as packing away clean clothes in a drawer or making their bed – these chores are challenging but still within his capabilities. Allowing your child to feel capable will give him a sense of importance which will then increase his confidence. Praise your child as much as possible and remember to focus on the positive, rather on the negative.

  1. Practice communication skills

Often children are shy and timid because they don’t know what to say – they have not learnt how to communicate. Teach your child how to communicate by playing a game. A fun game is where you pretend to be the interviewer and interview your child about lots of fun stuff. “Hello”, “What’s your name” “What is your favourite food?, How old are you? What book are you reading?” Switch roles and let your child interview you.

Playing these types of games helps your child to practice what to do in new or difficult situations. Helping to teach your child what to say during a conversation builds his self esteem and confidence. It also prepares him beforehand how to handle conversations during a social situation.

  1. Make sure that your child does not isolate himself

Shy children often feel uncomfortable around other people and this will cause them to withdraw and be by themselves. Parents should encourage their child to participate in activities and encourage them to interact with other children. Invite another child to your home for a play date so that your child can learn to be sociable.

  1. Don’t focus too much on the shy behaviour

Don't focus too much on the shy behaviour or try to push your child to behave in a certain way in front of people. This can cause a child to feel more anxious and it can even become a way of gaining negative attention. Many parents feel inadequate when their child refuses to greet and interact in a socially acceptable way. This makes parents feel anxious and their anxiety is picked up by the child.
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Can natural remedies help a shy child?

Shy, timid or reserved children often need a bit of extra help and support to feel more confident, less fearful and to overcome anxiety or nervousness. Homeopathic remedies are a gentle natural solution for children and they work wonderfully to address the symptoms that are experienced.

In the Feelgood Health range, K OK Kiddie Calmer is specially formulated to help shy, anxious or fearful children to increase their confidence levels and adjust to new situations.  K OK Kiddie Calmer can also be used together with MindSoothe Jr, which is a natural solution to relieve anxiety, depression, sadness and low self esteem in children.
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