Shyness in children: 6 tips to help them overcome it

If your child’s shyness is causing pain or missing important opportunities, don’t ignore it. With these keys you can help him.

Shyness in children: 6 tips to help them overcome it

Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: August 13, 2022

If your child is shy, you may be worried about their current and future well-being. Maybe you are worried that he is not making friends, that he is suffering in the social circles he will encounter throughout his life, or that there is something wrong with him, that ‘he you don’t know how to fix. In reality, shyness in children is natural to some extent. In addition, it is possible to intervene so that it does not reach levels that limit or cause discomfort to the minor.

It’s important to keep this in mind: shyness is not a life sentence. It is true that it has a considerable genetic and hereditary component which manifests itself in the temperament with which the child is born. However, upbringing, the environment you grow up in, and the early experiences you have can modulate the presence of this trait. See how we can help you.

What is considered shyness in children?

shyness is tendency to withdraw and feel uncomfortable in new social situations or unknown. It is generally linked to the fear of judgment from others, the propensity not to express oneself and to remain in the background.

The shy person does not feel safe interacting with strangers. You avoid taking the initiative, even when you would like more social contact.

It is common to present insecurity and low self-esteem and that this trend causes you to miss important opportunities. For this reason, intervention may be necessary.

It should be mentioned that some degree of shyness is normal and expected at certain stages of life. Children may naturally look to their parents or characters for safety when faced with new or unfamiliar environments. But eventually, as they get older, they become more confident.

Is also true that shyness helps us to be more careful and thoughtful, to avoid risks and make better decisions in certain circumstances. However, when it occurs excessively, it can cause great suffering and hinder academic and social development. It even leads to disorders like social phobia.

The keys to fighting shyness in children

If you perceive that your child’s shyness is causing them discomfort or interfering with their daily life, here are some tips you can apply to help them.

When the degree of shyness is excessive and the activities that the child should do are paralyzed, then it is necessary to help him.

1. Do not pressure, criticize or label

If you are not shy, you may find it difficult to understand your child’s reactions. However, it is important not to invalidate or minimize your emotions.

Don’t ridicule him for being shy or push him to change his strength. First, you need to feel understood, accepted, and supported. Of this security is that you can progress at your own pace.

On the other hand, avoid assigning the label of shy, ashamed That is lonely. Words have more power than you think and it will only make your child see themselves more and more that way. He will believe it and step into his role, become more and more secretive and fearful.

2. Teaches and models social skills

Sometimes shyness is the product of a lack of social skills which results in the child not knowing how to get along with others and their interactions being unpleasant. For him, it can be positive to focus on skills, such as starting and maintaining conversations, giving compliments, making requests or saying “Nope”.

Some children find it harder than others to understand and internalize these rules, but it’s all a matter of practice. By seeing you (as his main reference figure) interacting with others, he will be able to adopt certain ideas. However, performing dynamics, such as role-playing, can help in this learning process.

3. Provide socializing opportunities

When a child is shy, some parents tend to be overprotective and avoid exposing the child to uncomfortable situations. However, the small needs practice and opportunities to build self-confidence.

For this reason, it is a good idea to provide spaces in which to live with other children, beyond school. Enrolling in extracurricular activities, attending camps or workshops related to your hobbies can be good alternatives.

If the child is very frightened, you can start doing activities together with other families or participate in courses for parents and children. Your presence will secure him. As you see that you are capable of doing this, you will gain the confidence to take on new opportunities on your own.

4. Boosts your self-esteem and confidence

shyness has a large component of insecurity, lack of self-confidence and fear that others will judge us. For this reason, it is essential to promote a healthy and solid self-esteem, helping your child to identify and value their virtues and to accept their areas of improvement.

Self-esteem isn’t just about getting praise and having high self-esteem, it’s also about being able to see what we’re not so good at, without mortifying ourselves about it. Teach your child to see mistakes as natural and part of the learning process, and you’ll release a lot of their pressure.

5. Promotes positive internal dialogue

In light of the above, it should be noted that shy people often have a harsh inner critic in their head which anticipates everything that can go wrong, shows them in the present time the mistakes they make and reminds them of their past failures. It is this inner dialogue that can paralyze you.

For the same, a good idea is teach children to speak to each other with love, respect and compassion, to be your best friends and cheerleaders. The goal is for thoughts such as the following to automatically come to mind:

  • “You did very well, I’m proud of you”.
  • “You made a mistake, but nothing happens, you are still valuable.”
  • “You can get it, try it”.

For this, these words must first come from their parents: they are the ones who shape the inner dialogue of the child.

Parents promote the child’s self-esteem. They are the ones who appear as model figures for the child.

6. Promotes self-expression and decision-making

Finally, remember that shyness in children makes them stay in the background so as not to attract attention and not be judged. If we want to counter this tendency, we can promote situations where the child expresses himself freely and affirms his opinions in a safe environment.

Family conversations, board games, creative and artistic activities… the options are many. The important thing is to encourage the child to participateto make their voices heard and, of course, to listen to them, take them into account and value their contributions.

Shyness in children may need professional help

Ultimately, if you’ve applied the guidelines above and your child’s shyness is still excessive, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Keep in mind that negative social experiences or being rejected by others can scar us in the future.

It is important to remedy the situation as soon as possible. A professional can help your child acquire the necessary tools to overcome his shyness.

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