John Duffy, Chicago-based clinical psychologist, parenting and family expert, and author of The Available Parent, advises that parents help their shy child “make small social inroads as opposed to enormous social strides. This will increase their likelihood for success.”
As the new school year starts, he suggests having your child “approach two or three children every day and just greet them with a simple hello.”
Lorraine Millan, CEO of Seven Minds, which produces the Social Navigator app for socially challenged children and teens, agrees with the simple approach and goes one step further. She suggests having your child “approach someone with a smile, start a conversation with a compliment and always look for something [they] have in common to talk about.“
Duffy also suggests encouraging your child to join a group, club or sport at school. He says, “This will provide them with an immediate connection and something in common with other children.”
Janelle Buchheit, M.Ed., NCC, ACC, certified life coach and founder of New Heights Coaching: Coaching Kids for Life Success says, “Let your child know that it's OK to be shy and reserved. There are many introverted/shy/reserved people in the world. For shy children, learning better social skills is another tool in the toolbox. They can survive as a shy person, but will be much more successful in life if they can pull out those skills and use them when they need them.”
Most likely, your child's shyness is perfectly normal. But there may be more to your child’s shyness than meets the eye. Millan says, “Some children are just naturally quieter and more reserved than others. Many children are shy because they are self-protective and cautious. Some children have a harder time controlling their emotions or may be socially awkward and routinely face rejection from peers. Others simply do not have the communication or cognitive skills to keep up.”
She continues, “Parents need to adjust expectations accordingly and should seek professional help like a social skills program if they believe their child's shyness goes beyond temperament.”
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