Parenting the shy child

Many children experience periods of shyness at some time or another. Shyness, or the tendency to be reserved in social situations, is a very normal part of growing up. Despite their reservedness, most shy children make friends and participate in group activities with relative ease.

Shyness can be attributed, in part, to an inborn temperament and only becomes problematic when it starts to impact on the way a child socialises with other children or participates at school.

If your child experiences any of the following difficulties on an ongoing basis, it would be advisable to consult a psychologist:

  • Difficulty forming/maintaining friendships
  • Difficulty separating from a parent / carer
  • Reluctance to participate in enjoyable social activities eg birthday parties
  • Reduced participation in the classroom
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Increased levels of anxiety

Shyness can be debilitating for some children, so assisting them in small, unpressured ways can make a big difference:

  • Arrange one-on-one play dates for your child in your home environment
  • Talk to your child about social skills eg how to make friends
  • Use labelled praise eg Jack, you played well with your friend today
  • Make sure you are a good role model – show your child what confident behaviour looks like