Home Child development How do I help my child with shyness?

How do I help my child with shyness?

by Ines Wurbs

Shy children like to observe from a safe distance. However, we can help them overcome their anxiety by guiding them through the situation together. How exactly can this be achieved? More on that below.

Why is my child shy?

Shyness comes from our amygdala. So, a small almond-shaped brain area is responsible for this. Shy people are much more active on examination when they are shown something new than when they are shown something familiar. Shy or inhibited people release more alarm messengers that signal danger to their bodies. This is not unusual for the new and unknown. But with shy people, it is many times more. Uncertainty and the unknown trigger fear. And our natural response is to flee, or at least in our society today, to retreat.

How “sensitive” we react to this is actually inherited, i.e. dependent on our parents.

The avoidable dangerous situation is also noticeable in the whole body. The heart rate increases, the pupils enlarge, the blood pressure rises, and the fingertips cool down significantly. Clear signs of fear. This is how our body prepares to escape. Interestingly, these signs can be seen in infants who are later classified as shy.

How can we help my child overcome shyness?

Our parenting style

Our parenting style has a significant influence on how shyness is dealt with and how it develops. Secure attachments give our children the support they need, even when they are anxious.

Loving, emphatic interaction

Loving and emphatic handling of shy children in stressful situations is significant. Scolding or blackmailing only creates more stress and pressure.

However, if you react empathetically and lovingly, the stress will gradually subside, and your child will be able to better engage with the situation. In fact, it has been found that the physical effects, such as increased heart rate and pulse, are also reduced as a result.

Support your child

Support your child in such situations. Don’t leave them alone, but accompany them through the situation. Make suggestions on how you can master the situation together.

For example, if the goal is: to walk into a room with several people and say hello. It can be broken down into many smaller tasks, not all of them need to be learned at once. First, you can practice with your child entering the room together and wait a little longer before you move on together.

Only if this works well and your child feels comfortable, try the step going in alone. If that fits, then with common greetings. So, even if you always say hello, now actively encourage your child to participate. This could be a quiet hello at the beginning. If it feels good, it will get louder on its own. 

Be a role model

You should, of course, lead by example. You should pay attention to this, especially if you are shy yourself. Children learn a lot from us just by observing.

Challenge your child

Do not avoid challenging situations, and do not “spare” your children such tasks. While well-intentioned, it would only reinforce your child’s shy behavior. Above all, it prevents your child from gaining positive experiences.

Take care of your child

Be attentive and react immediately to small signs from your child. Our children usually show slight signs of discomfort before. Watch your child closely.

This allows you to quickly support your child in “tricky” situations and also prepare them well in advance. You also know where your child’s limits are, how much stress is reasonable in which situations, and when it is better to intervene. 

Nevertheless, you should still have confidence in your child. Knowing the limits and their signs will make it easier for you to respond appropriately.

Watch your behavior

Don’t ridicule your child’s behavior, and take it seriously. You would only put a strain on the trust and your relationship.

Problems of being shy

The consequences of shyness are very diverse. In any case, shyness limits social contacts due to social anxiety. We avoid many situations in which social contact occurs, and only selected situations are experienced. This means that our lives are mainly influenced by shyness, and we miss countless beautiful things. And only because we want to avoid supposedly bad things.

Studies have shown that shy children are also more likely to be rejected by other children. They have a harder time making friends and are more likely to be left out.

This could also affect the school. Because school is becoming more and more of a fear factor. Of course, this has an impact on learning success. As a result, it could be that your child finally wants to avoid school.

Aggressive behavior or strong withdrawal can also occur. In extreme cases, it can also lead to depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and, in the worst case, suicide. Teens are particularly at risk here.

Vicious of shyness

You can read more about the effects of shyness at school in this work.

Conclusion about shyness

Even if we have shyness in our genes, we are not at mercy. It takes courage and perseverance to permanently overcome shyness. But together in a safe environment, you can work on this character trait wonderfully. This is how your children grow into strong, self-confident people.

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