How to help a shy child out of their shell

If you have a shy child, you’re not alone. Many children have shy personalities, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can become a handicap, however, if children use their shyness as an excuse not to develop or exercise social skills. If you have a child who is using shy to avoid having to try, it may be time for you to step in and offer some help.

  • Don’t label your child . It’s not a good idea to tell people your child is shy, especially in front of the child. On the other hand, telling your child not to be shy can feel like pressure. Try not to put a label on it at all, just let your child know what’s expected in social situations.
  • Practice social interaction . At home, when there’s no pressure, rehearse typical interactions. Teach your child to speak when spoken to, saying hello and looking people in the eye. There’s no need to force your child to be outgoing, but it’s good to encourage polite behavior.
  • Prepare ahead for stressful interactions . If your shy child is nervous about going to a new school or starting a new class, do everything you can to make sure he or she is prepared. Meet the teacher ahead of time and invite some of the children over for a playdate. It even helps to have your child practice wearing a backpack and interacting in the classroom.
  • Don’t take over for your child . When you jump in to speak for your child, you squelch the opportunity for natural interaction. Hold back, stay quiet, and give your child a chance to overcome a shy moment before you intervene. It’s ok to allow your child to struggle with shyness a little bit, in order to learn how to cope.
  • Find activities that help your child to connect with others. Sports teams, dance classes, group art lessons, scout troops- these are all great places for children to meet like-minded kids and make friends. If you need to be a troop leader, observe the class, or watch a practice with your child before actually signing up for the team, that’s ok. By easing children into activities, you’ll help them overcome their shyness.

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