For parents, it’s simultaneously heartbreaking and frustrating to watch their shy kids struggle to get involved with activities. While parents can’t change shy children, there are some ways parents can encourage their kids to be more outgoing and involved in activities:
Activities They Love
Look for activities that play to your kid’s interests. If they can be distracted by passion, they may forget to be shy. Soccer might encourage teamwork, but if your child likes to spend quiet hours building block cities, Lego Club at the local library might bring him out of his shell faster. Picking an activity at which your child excels means he can work on social confidence rather stress over learning new hobbies.
Knowing what to expect in a new activity can set an anxious child at ease. If possible, take them to visit the facility before they have to participate. Observing that gymnastics class could her the chance to see how things will go and how the other kids interact without feeling pressured to join in. A tour of a new school before the first day of class will soothe her fears of having to ask where the bathroom is. Knowledge and familiarity are great confidence builders.
Choose the Right School
One of the things that makes school so stressful for shy kids is that it’s not optional. But finding a school that works to your child’s individual needs can make a huge difference. Look for places like The International School of MN that offer a wide variety of options for young children. Getting your kids in pre-school can help them be more comfortable when it’s time for grade school. For one child, attending half-day pre-K classes eases her into daily attendance in bite-sized increments. For another, an extended day program means he won’t have to join a group of new, different faces at a separate after-school care program.
It is much more difficult for a shy kid to dive into a large group. It may feel to them like everyone has already made friends. When your child is one of the first to arrive, the more outgoing members of the group feel less unreachable and are more likely to break the ice with your child.
Stick Around or Leave Them Alone
The opposing methods can have great results depending on what your child needs. Your child can hop right into karate class when he knows Dad is watching from the lobby. On the other hand, another child won’t let go of Dad’s pant leg if she knows he’s there, but blossoms when left on her own. This sink or swim approach can do more harm than good if the child feels abandoned. Uncertain parents might offer to stay for part of the class to ease them into independence and be ready to come back if necessary.
With frequent opportunities to push their boundaries, each new thing a child does gets easier than the last. Shyness may be a continued challenge as they age but parents can do a lot to encourage their kids. Set your shy child up for successful social interactions to get them more comfortable in unfamiliar settings.