Kids that are shy and more anxious and as well as those kids that haven’t been exposed to a lot of social environment with natural play equipment can be distinctly sensitive to criticism or peer rejection.
A lot of children compare and contrast their looks, intellectual and athletic capabilities to those of their peers and are usually particularly sensitive to their friend’s reactions in the fourth and fifth grade.
A deduction from a survey that was carried out in six different countries indicated that for kids the primary concern or fear next to losing their family or loved one—was losing face among friends.
Rejection, losing or being humiliated publicly can be a massive catalyst to emotional distress and even psychological trauma in some severe cases.
So we are going to go on a journey to discover ways of developing social skills in children that are a bit on the shy side.
Signs to look out for
- Avoids other kids
- Anxious away from home
- Uncomfortable and nervous even with familiar faces
- Are irritable, agitated, and bites nails
- Freezes or retreats from group
- Needs excessive and repeated assurance
- Regresses to babylike attitude; sucks thumb, whines
- Throws a tantrum and cries sporadically
- Warms up slowly, stays on the fringe
- Constantly complains of physical ailments
Can a shy kid’s temperament be changed?
Anxious kids are, by nature, more anxious and hesitant. And even though It is impossible to change a child’s natural or inherent temperament, studies have shown that 90% of shy kids can be greatly helped by teaching them some specific coping mechanisms.
Here is a list of teachable skills
- Calming down
- Using eye contact
- Beginning and ending a conversation
- Introducing themselves and making new friends
- Using a stronger voice and a more confident body language
- Refined deportment
You know what?—-The interesting thing is that all the things mentioned in the list above can be taught to children so that they not only come across as less timid but also are more confident in social settings.
Plus these are skills that will come in handy in every sphere of their lives, which eventually leads to attaining social competency.
It is not your fault.
You have to bear in mind that, most likely, your parenting did not cause your child to feel tense or more hesitant or even fearful in a social setting. Chances are your child was probably born with a shyer disposition.
Your child’s genetic code is most likely responsible for the hesitant nature being displayed when exposed to certain situations or environment.
Make no mistake, those fears your child might be experiencing are very real, which is often the arousal of your child’s nervous system which causes symptoms of inner turmoil, from rapid heartbeat to sweaty palms to paler skin.
All of which can be triggered by being exposed to unfamiliar or threatening social situations.
How to mitigate these traits
Early intercession; as a parent, it is your duty to recognise your child’s tension or trigger signs. For the most part, your kids aren’t likely to voice out their anxiety, but from their body language—it will be clear to you that they are in one form of distress or another.
It is paramount that every parent watches out what environment and the sequences of events that catalyse the anxious behaviour in their kid and most importantly note those body signs that is a clear indicator that something is wrong.
This way, parents can suggest strategies to help reduce their tension before it increases. For example, when he or she is in the crowd, do they start to bite their nails? Fiddle with their hair, clench their fist or retreat behind you.
Once you notice those signs, draw your child’s attention to it by indicating for example that they are biting their lips and that he or she should take a few deep breaths to relax, and to think of something happy and fun.
Accept your child’s fate; This is not about changing or remoulding your introverted child into some social bunny. Don’t even bother—you are only going to make matters worse.
Shy kids ultimately need structure; less pushy parents; time to warm up; understanding and sensitivity; calm, less intense adult; and subtle discipline that preserves their dignity.
Identify shyness contributors
Now you have to know that as much as your kid is introverted, there may be other factors that trigger his or her shyness.
Check your expectation; even though social lapse can be genetic, your parenting approach can help your kid outgrow their anxious social tendencies.
The popular and renowned Harvard child psychologist Jerome kagan undertook a study and found out that one out of every three shy children was able to climb out of their shell.
And those who did usually had a parent who refused to be overly protective with their kids and served as a role model for social skills—and coached their children on how to interact with peers. Here are some behaviours that can actually worsen the case for your children rather than improve them.
- Force your child to perform in public
- Push them too quickly to join a group without warm-up time
- Push things that are important to you but not to them
- Compare his performance and personality to those of his siblings in a negative way
- Tend to rescue your child in social settings by doing tasks for them
- Speak for your child when he’s timid so that he learns to depend on you?
Don’t use labels; if there is one thing experts agree on, it’s the fact that the major reason kids act timid is because they are labelled timid. Don’t let anyone like teachers, friends, relatives, strangers—call your child timid. Just imply that your child likes to size things up before they partake in any activity.
Research at Stanford University shows that although our children may be born with their temperament leaning towards shyness, the eventual outcome of their disposition will be largely dependent on whether or not they are labelled timid.
Show empathy and acknowledge anxiety; anxious kids have a hard time vocalising their concerns, so it is important that you, as a parent, show empathy towards your child’s tension. Let them know you are aware that they feel uncomfortable with other kids, and that participation is hard for them.