Imagine the following situation. Your child changes classes and moves from one teacher to the next. The class is new, the whole situation is strange to him and, as you enter the new classroom with him, he plays it shy. He puts the death grip on your leg. You encourage him to introduce himself to the new teacher or new kids, but he is just hiding behind your leg — terrified at even making the slightest move. You throw an apologetic smile: “He is not that shy usually,”… but deep down in your heart you know the truth.
This is exactly the way he behaves every time he faces a new and unfamiliar situation. He has done it with his relatives, with the security guard at the store, babysitters and with new kids at the park. You have tried different ways to help him be more outgoing, but it never seems to work. You tried your best to push him away from you, tell him there is no need to be shy and that he is a big boy — but without success. Your leg still functions as a refuge for him.
can you “un-shy” your young one?
First and foremost you need to understand that being shy is normal. Most kids are shy because they simply do not know what to do or how to behave in new and uncomfortable situations. They do not have the tools to compare such situations to similar past ones and make a decision on the right course of action. If you understand this simple concept, you have taken a step in the right direction in helping him or her to be more outgoing.
Many experts tend to suggest that you should explain the situation to your kid, go over the details with him and try to reason with him. This technique works for some kids, but not for many. It does not work because shy kids do not understand reasoning, they are fueled by emotion. While searching for a way to help my child become more outgoing, I have devised, implemented and succeeded in developing a technique that has helped my son develop more self-confidence in new situations.
Your child is afraid of new and uncomfortable situations and — guess what? — the best way to get him out of this phase is to deliberately create such situations and expose him to those with your guidance. As he gets more exposure to such situations, he will gain the knowledge and experience to tackle new ones with time.
How does it work?
Start small. Engage him in everyday tasks which will put him in challenging situations. For example, while at the store you should ask him to pay the cashier. Show him how to do it, tell him what to ask her and show him how to sign the receipt. At a restaurant, ask him to give the order to the waiter. At the bank, let him talk to the teller.
The more you encourage him to do things on his own, the more you root out his shy behavior. Before long, you will have a child who is self confident, self reliant and independent. After all, this is exactly what you wanted him or her to be in the first place.
Barack Levin is the author of The Diaper Chronicles– A stay at home dad’s quest for raising great kids, available through his website at www.baracklevin.com.