It may start by hiding in their mother’s skirt as a toddler, and progress into a sense of anxiety so strong it inhibits everything from classroom instruction to proper socialization.
While many youngsters are boisterous and creative through imaginative play, some struggle deeply with shyness. Shyness has its positive points, but if your child is so shy that it is affecting his/her daily life in a negative way, then there may be ways to help.
When executed correctly, group activities for shy kids are very beneficial. These timid kids learn to find strength in numbers and to be accepted in ways they previously feared.
It may seem the absolute worst thing you could do is put a shy child in the middle of a team or arranged social circle – but in many instances it can also help.
While your child may never be the spokesperson of the group, they may contribute ideas to a more outgoing member of the team and feel proud where they otherwise would’ve just been silent.
An attentive teacher will recognize a shy elementary school student who is struggling, and will often try to help. At their suggestion (or yours, if necessary and appropriate), the classroom may be arranged so desks are in pairs or small clusters rather than individual rows. This allows for team work in the classroom – the various clusters of desks work together to come up with an answer, or they brainstorm together for an activity.
Leading the Way
Many shy children tend to be excellent students or independent workers.
Why not tap into these positives by asking them to mentor younger children?
Whether in the classroom or on the soccer field, the opportunity to build relationship with younger kids can make the shy child feel more comfortable and able to speak up more in other life situations. This works even better if your child can be paired with another to assist a handful of younger ones. This mentorship system is the core of the Montessori school structure – it has been known to raise confident and capable children, and in some instances, abolish shyness.
Although it may seem a recipe for disaster, one of the best activities for shy kids is group sports.
They experience victories without having everything rest on their shoulders, but also learn the important lesson of other people counting on them to be confident and do well.
Team sports have proven time and again to be effective in bringing children out of their shell, and don’t include the pressure of individual sports like gymnastics or figure skating.
If your child just isn’t the sporty type, they may do well in a community theater program or something similar.
Many children’s theaters accept everyone who auditions, which means your child can experience the terrifying moment of individual attention with guaranteed positive results. If such a group does not exist in your region, then try a dance or art class where your child will need to be independent but is also set up for situations to receive praise for their efforts.
When Shyness is a Problem
If your youngster is experiencing anxiety attacks, problems even walking into the schoolyard or signs of depression, talk to your pediatrician right away.
While many kids are shy and go through life in a simpler, quieter way, shyness can sometimes lead to more serious issues. Sometimes even a one-time therapy session with a quality counselor can get to the bottom of the situation and help your little one to feel more confident and secure in who they are.
Written by Tamara Warta