Social skills are an integral part of our lives that help us bond well with people around and lead a happy life. As we grow up, we understand the importance of social skills in our lives and learn hard to acquire those skills. However, social skills cannot be acquired in a day. Hence, it is important to inculcate these skills on your children from a young age.
If you are a parent of a shy child, you definitely understand the difficulty of making your child socialize. You cannot force them to be social; it has to be done tactfully to help them overcome their shyness. Before knowing how to help a shy child socialize, it is important to first identify the social skills problems that your children are having.
What are the main causes of shyness in children?
There could be many factors, which could lead to child socialization problems.
It is the foremost duty of every parent to identify those reasons and then take appropriate action to improve their social skills.
Important causes of shyness in children:
According to some important studies and researches, heredity is sometimes a reason for shyness in children. Although there might be other reasons too.
- Parental Behavior:
shy parents often have shy children. Children are a reflection of their parents’ actions. If they notice shyness in their parents, they tend to behave the same way. If your children notice that you are not socially active, they tend to adopt the same habit and behave like you.
The environment you children grow up in plays a key role in building their social life. If they are a part of a jolly surrounding, they tend to become socially more active. However, if they are a target of emotional abuse or an otherwise gloomy environment, they become less active socially.
- Painful situations:
If your children are often exposed to emotionally difficult situations like school failures, scolding, family conflicts, they get accustomed to fears. This in turn leads to shyness
Your children might be a target of bullies in school or any other place, which could shake their self-confidence. It could even raise a sense of fear within them to communicate with others.
- Too much love and care:
Some parents shower too much love and care to their children and behave over protectively. This makes them more dependent on their parents. Lack of social independence results in insecurities and shyness.
- Constant criticisms:
Criticisms are important but children also need to be encouraged and praised for their small achievements and initiatives. Constant criticisms and punishments will only make them shyer due to the fear of getting judged and punished again.
- Growth Issues:
Poor growth could also be one of the reasons for your children to lose confidence in them. Every kid wants to grow up fast. So when they see their peers growing up fast with good physiques and height, they tend to feel insecure.
- Body Language & Communication:
Difficulty to comprehend body language or facial expressions can make your children socialize less. Not understanding something automatically reduces the interest to pursue it.
- Listening Issues:
Poor listening capabilities could make your child not understand what is being told to him/her.
- Difficulty in talking:
This would make them less confident when he/she sees his/her peers speaking fluently.
- Health & Medical Conditions:
Medical conditions might also be the reason, which could be effectively cured with professional help.
How to help a child overcome shyness?
Shyness is not a major issue that is too difficult to tackle. There are various ways through which you could help your children overcome shyness. However, it is important to remember that this cannot be achieved in a day. If you are parenting a shy child, here are some ways you can help your shy child to socialize:
- Identify his/her interest:
Every child has some unique interests, which he/she likes doing most. Try to identify your kids’ interest and follow the same. Use that favorite activity as a way to bridge the gap towards initiating a new friendship with their peers. Common interests often serve as successful stepping-stones towards building new relationships, which is applicable on adults as well.
- Practice socialization through role-plays:
Play with them to teach them how to socialize. It will help prepare well and say the right things when they meet someone new. Try to play different games by playing different characters and teach them how to greet each character differently.
- Ask questions:
If you are wondering how to get a shy child to talk, ask questions. Asking questions to your children helps them talk and speak things that are in their mind. When you put forward different interesting questions in front of them, it gets them into communicating more even if they are shy. They develop a habit of engaging in conversations, which helps them in initiating interactions with peers.
- Answer their questions:
Similarly, be there for them when they ask questions. But kids ask a lot of questions. This does not mean you have to attend to every question. Answer the ones, which are relevant. If you are turning down some questions, do it tactfully. The idea is to answer the important questions and get into a conversation with them to build a talking habit.
If you turn down all their questions, they will shy away from conversing with their peers as well.
- One-on-one interaction:
One-on-one interactions can go a long way in overcoming shyness when it comes to extremely shy kids. Instead of asking them to converse with a lot of kids at the same time, arrange playdates with one friend at a time. There will be fewer chances of disagreements and bullying. When your kid gains enough confidence, then introduce him/her to group activities.
- Teach them social scripts:
Teach and practice common social scripts like thank you, sorry, welcome and many more with them to help them speak the appropriate words in return to some common gestures by people. This way they will be confident about what to say when someone is being friendly with them or if they accidentally hurt somebody.
- Be patient and have faith:
Be patient with your children and have faith in them. Shyness is not something that can be overcome right away. They will take time to learn and grow. Do not overburden your children and let them learn at their own pace. With the right guidance and persistent effort, your children will successfully surpass this obstacle.
How to deal with shyness in toddlers?
If your toddler doesn’t interact with others, we understand your pain. Communicating with toddlers is a more complicated task as everything seems confusing to them. They are trying to understand their environment and have no clue as to what’s going on.
Daycare facilities definitely help in improving your toddlers’ behavior when it comes to socializing. But some toddlers even do not like attending daycare.
How to socialize toddlers without daycare:
- Play-dates with other kids
No kids say no to games. This is the best activity to engage them if you want them to socialize with others especially for toddlers. Schedule play-dates with kids of their age. Take them the nearest parks or kids’ playing zones or to their friends’ homes. This is the best way to introduce them to kids of their age and increase social inclusion.
The more they meet new friends, the more they are likely to go out and interact. It will also boost their confidence in interacting when they meet any new kid of their age.
- Engage them in other group activities
When your toddlers start enjoying their play-dates, gradually introduce them to other group activities with kids like drawing, rhymes classes, blowing bubbles sessions, water play, and more. It is the best way to introduce your toddlers to kids of different ages, backgrounds, behavior patterns, and interests.
- Give them space
Don’t be around them all the time. Give them some alone time to understand their interests. Also while in those play-dates and group activities, let them be on their own with other kids. There will be instances of fighting and disagreements. But let them settle the situation themselves unless it demands parents’ attention.
- Let them learn from you
Toddlers often imitate their parents’ actions and behaviors. So socialize more often to help your kids learn from you. If they see your socializing with your peers, they are more likely to follow suit.
- Manage your expectations
Do not have too many expectations from your toddlers. Depending on the age, toddlers have different ways of interacting. For toddlers in the age group of 2-3 years, social interactions mainly consist of playing alongside each other and not with each other. Whereas, toddlers from the age group of 4-6 enjoy playing in groups with each other. Manage your expectations based on such behavior patterns.
- Know when to mediate
It is also a parent’s important job to know when to step in when their toddlers are having a disagreement with their peers to prevent someone from getting hurt. Mediate well to patch things up for your kids to learn what kinds of behaviors are not welcomed by you.
How to socialize a child with different activities?
Even adults socialize based on their interests and hobbies. So when it comes to children, common interests and activities are what a parent should always focus on.
To make it easy for you, we have listed down some of the best activities for a shy child to interact with peers with confidence:
- Take trips:
Taking trips is always a good idea for your shy child to interact with others. You do not have to take trips to far away places. Take trips to some nice places like parks, play house, museums, etc with one or two families with kids and let them bond.
- Visit to relatives, grandparents:
It is always a good idea to visit your relatives frequently to provide a homely environment to your kids especially during holidays. They get time to bond with their cousins. Kids often like interacting with their grandparents.
- Play Games:
Playdates with kids of their age to play their favorite game is always a nice way to get your child into talking with peers. They can play alongside one another or with one another as a team. Either way, they are developing a relationship with one another.
- Water parties/ Swimming:
Kids love playing with water unless your kid is afraid of water. Let them enjoy their time with one another while playing in the water. You can also teach them swimming from a young age. Swimming is a very healthy sport that boosts the confidence of your child.
- Having pets:
Having pets is another way to help your child come out of his/her comfort zone. If you are not very fond of pets, then you can keep a small aquarium or a bird at your place. Teach your child to feed it and talk with it.
Gardening is yet another fun activity to engage your kids in overcoming their shyness. They learn about plants and flowers and get something to talk about with their peers.
- Drawing sessions:
Arrange for drawing sessions with their peers. Kids love drawing and playing with colors. It is a great way of making them bond with other kids.
How to help a shy child participate in school?
You can help your shy child to be participative in school through the following ways:
- Go to school:
Most children restrain going to schools. Think of different ways to encourage your child to attend school no matter what. Of course, they can take a break or two in a month but inculcate a habit of being regular to school.
- Talking with teachers:
Encourage your children to talk to their teachers about their likes and dislikes. At the same time, make sure the teacher takes note of encouraging healthy conversations in the classroom.
- Home works/projects/assignments:
Make sure your children do their home works themselves. Of course, you can help them out, but let them think of the answers first. Also, encourage their participation in projects and presentations. It is important as a parent to keep a note of your child’s assignments to make sure he/she is doing it.
- Ask questions:
Ask questions about what they learn in school every day. Be their student and let them explain the things they learn. This can also be done by playing school games at home.
- Encourage participation in extracurricular activities:
Let them take part in extra curricular activities to make school going more fun. When they have something interesting to look upon, they automatically become more participative.
- Praise his/her accomplishments:
Praise your child for his/her accomplishments in school no matter how big or small that is. It could be a first prize, a certificate or a star, encouraging him/her to keep up with the good work. This way they get motivated to participate more and earn more accolades
- Support them in their failures:
It is also important to support them when they fall. They could fail in a class assignment or come last in a race or might not fetch good marks in their drawing class. Let them know it is okay not to be perfect in everything and the fact that they tried is sufficient.