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Helping Your Child Fight Shyness
The following are some time-tested guides on ways and means for parents to help their child fight shyness and overcome it in the end.
Behavioral changes do not happen overnight, as much as it cannot be done in a short time. Start by easing your children into learning non-shy behaviors, and doing them in small steps. One example is teaching them how to say “thank you” and “please” to appropriate situations to all people, including complete strangers.
Parents should not let children be alone for unnatural lengths of time. Introduce them to activities with other children to encourage them to be sociable with others their own age. Parents should not spare their praises for their children’s efforts at socializing. A pat on the back, a smile or a good word reinforces the good effects of what they did in their minds.
Independence and responsibilities
Shy children tend to be dependent on their parents or to other adults. They are not willing to take risks, including making new friends and participating in social activities.
Parents can introduce a sense of independence and responsibility. They should solve their own problems and let them make decisions. Choosing what to wear is one sample of a decision-making effort.
Taking responsibilities can be slowly done by assigning them small chores apt for their age and abilities. A young girl can help the mother do some very light duties. A boy could be assigned to feed the pets. These are good for their self-esteem.
Paying too much attention to a child’s shyness (or worse, punish them for it) will only reinforce the behavior. Instead of forcing things around (making shy children to speak at all costs, etc.) or punishing them, parents should put on a calm attitude and treat shyness like an ordinary thing.
Teasing by family members or by other children is another form of negative reinforcement. It seriously damages a child’s self-esteem. For a shy child, the best recourse would be to withdraw some more into themselves to avoid being teased, and the cycle goes on. Use all your powers never to allow teasing.
Speaking for shy children also reinforces shyness. They will not learn to speak for themselves even if given the chance. Parents should never answer questions for their children and speak for them.
Criticism, nagging, or threats to children when they act shy will only unnecessarily put into focus their shyness. Forcing them to do things they are not yet ready will produce opposite results.
The better option is provide them with opportunities to socialize. Also, encourage them to do things slowly. If situations become overwhelming for the child, parents should respect their feelings and do not force things.
Helping your child fight shyness is a long and continuous work, if you look at it that way. Actually, it is more of giving the love and attention the child deserves in order for him or her to develop the self-esteem and confidence needed. It is not work.
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