Not everyone’s a born social butterfly. Being shy, whether in kids or adults, is entirely normal and acceptable. Some kids grow out of it over time, and some don’t. That’s okay. However, if, at some point, as a parent, you notice your child is having more issues with making friends due to their shyness, there are things you can do to help them.
Helping your shy child is important because making friends and spending time with them will most likely get them out of their shells. If you help them and cheer them on in their efforts, you will also help build their confidence over time. In this article, we’ll go over some of the ways you can encourage your shy child to make friends and start being more social.
Avoid discussing it in front of others
When you describe your child as shy in public, they will begin to believe something is wrong. Avoid saying things like, “It’s not you. They’re just shy,” to other people in front of your kid. No matter your good intentions, it will make your kid feel worse about being nervous to talk with other people. It won’t suddenly make them less shy or make them try to prove themselves.
Instead, teach your child how to be kind to others and what good manners are when meeting other people. Then, when they find themselves in a social situation, don’t put any pressure on them to interact with others or make the first move. Give them space to slowly adapt to other people and want to initiate a conversation instead of being pushed into it.
Help your child build their confidence
Encourage your child to participate in any school activity, like sports or a library program. As a start, look for smaller, private settings where your child may hone their interpersonal skills in a more manageable scenario. For example, a theater program can really help shy, quiet kids get out of their shells and even overcome their stage fright.
This is much better than letting your shy kid spend all their free time alone at home, staring at a screen. Getting them involved with a social activity will not only limit their screen time but also help build friendships with individuals who share their interests.
Set up a playdate
It might seem like an unnecessary hassle, having multiple kids at your home at the same time, but it can pay off big time. Organizing playdates for your child in your own house can encourage your shy child to make friends while still on their home turf, where they feel the most comfortable. You can do so by inviting your child’s school friends or your friend’s kids over for a day.
In the beginning, you might have to plan some activities for them. For example, you can organize little games and activities. It could be like a one-day summer camp at home. However, after some time, as your child gets more comfortable around other kids, you can let them come up with their own games.
Consult the teacher
Another thing you can do to encourage your child to make friends is to first talk with their teacher. Ask about how your child behaves in class and why they have trouble making friends. Then, for your child to get closer to their peers, ask your child’s teacher to assign them a study buddy. While working as a pair, along the way, they’ll both not only learn about teamwork and sharing but also become friends.
Talk to your child
Reading to your child may result in talking about feelings. When we read to our kids, we enter another universe where we may view concepts like feelings, relationships, and conflict from a new angle. We can take a step back and consider how the characters feel and what they can do to feel better because the difficulties don’t directly affect us. Your child might have a lot of questions. Be prepared for these conversations.
Look for personality qualities in the stories, and talk about character connections, empathy, and compassion. Why do the two characters become friends? What transpires if they disagree? How can they make amends with one another? These are some of the most critical conversation points to cover.
Making friends in a new environment
Sometimes, kids who weren’t initially shy start acting shy when they’re in new and unfamiliar environments. For example, your child might’ve had a lot of friends back in their old home, but now, after you moved, they’ve become shyer around new people. Although that’s perfectly normal, it’s still something you would work on with them.
Alternatively, if you’re moving to a new city, and you feel like your child just got out of their shell at home, there are things you can do to stop them from returning to their old ways. For starters, you should discuss changes with them. Talk about moving and what it will mean to them. Talk about the new friends they will make. Also, don’t forget to fill them in on all the ways they can keep in touch with their old friends.
Finally, getting your child familiar with the new environment and the new home ahead of time is another thing that can make the process easy for your child, or at least easier than it has to be.
Each kid has a different temperament. Some people are fiery and extroverted, while others are more sensitive and introverted. Most people oscillate between these two extremes depending on the situation and the people around them. With any luck, these pointers will encourage your shy child to make friends for life!
Even if your kid ends up making only one friend, that’s still a win. Some kids need more time to get out of their shells. As long as you talk with them about the importance of having friends, from there on out, you can let them move at their own pace.
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