Parenting a shy child can be a challenge, especially if you’re concerned about your little one being unable to interact healthily with others. If your child prefers to hide behind your leg or would rather observe play than take part in it, here are a few things you can do to encourage him or her to interact in a healthy way.
1. Try to Understand Your Child
The first key to helping your child overcome the obstacle of shyness is to understand what’s really going on. There are many different types of shyness. Once you understand the type your child has, you’ll be able to gently prod him or her toward healthy social activity while remaining compassionate and understanding. Here are the main types of shyness:
- Immature shyness
- Agreeable shyness
- Aggressive shyness
If your child has immature shyness, he or she may typically hang back in social situations or approach other kids in an annoying way. Children with immature shyness are more likely to be avoided or disliked by their peers because they tend to be disruptive and irritating.
Agreeable shy kids are generally well-liked and accepted by peers, but they tend to hold back and remain on the sidelines unless approached by others. When others invite them to play, agreeable shy kids typically join in without a problem. They can get along well with their peers but rarely initiate interaction with others.
When aggressive shy kids interact with others, it’s often in a hostile or angry way. Children with aggressive shyness are more likely than others to be bullied and excluded by peers. They have few friends to stick up for them and they struggle to develop healthy relationships with others.
Once you understand the type of shyness your child is dealing with, you’ll have an easier time helping them overcome their fears and anger. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, you may need a professional to help them overcome their shyness in a healthy way.