Newsletter Subscription

Regular Updates on Parenting, Happy Children & Emotional Intelligence

  • Latest Articles - Raising Children with Emotional Intelligence
  • New Parenting Blogs
  • Parenting Tips for Happy Children
  • Free Online Seminars
  • Popular Parenting Books & Reviews

Subscribe!

Regular Updates on Parenting, Happy Children & Emotional Intelligence

  • Latest Articles - Raising Children with Emotional Intelligence
  • New Parenting Blogs
  • Parenting Tips for Happy Children
  • Free Online Seminars
  • Popular Parenting Books & Reviews

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Unsubscribe

Proudly Supporting

Proudly Supporting

Five Top Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Shyness

Shyness in kids is very common, and “everybody can feel shy in certain situations,” says Professor Jennifer Hudson, a clinical psychologist and research fellow from Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health. While mild shyness is not defined as an anxiety condition, approximately one in five children will have a problem with exceptional shyness and anxiety, such that it significantly interferes with their daily life. Professor Hudson’s latest longitudinal research into the role of temperament and stressful life events in the development of childhood anxiety found that shy children experience fewer positive life experiences because of their inhibitions.

Professor Hudson understands that having a child who feels inhibited or apprehensive in social situations can take its toll on parents and families. Parents may report their child is avoiding school and social situations like answering questions in class, or accepting birthday party invitations. And children may report feeling anxious or uncomfortable in certain situations. “Or they may deny a problem because they don’t want to admit to being shy,” adds Hudson. “There are positives to having a temperament that leads towards shyness; in adults, we may know this as introversion,” says Hudson, “but when this trait makes a child feel socially threatened and unable to engage in daily life activities there are methods parents can use to help children overcome their inhibitions.”

1. Pay Attention to Your Child’s Courage
Notice the times when your child tries hard to be courageous and reward them with praise, without over-fussing. For example, say: “I really liked it when you waved goodbye to the butcher. You showed a lot of courage, and I could see it made him happy too.”  Usually a parent will attend to the distress in social situations and Professor Hudson acknowledges this is a normal response.  However, positively reinforcing the times when your child overcomes a fear lets them know they have achieved a desired behaviour.

2. Encourage Your Child to Practise Bravery and Practise Often

Professor Hudson likes the word ‘brave’. “It acknowledges that children are tackling something that is difficult for them.

Break down desired behaviours into small steps and encourage your child to practise actions over and over again. For example, if saying hello to a friend is difficult, encourage your child to make eye contact, or blink. “Saying goodbye may be easier than saying hello, so encourage that behaviour first and then build up to a longer interaction.”

3. Don’t Rush in to Help
Wait. Ask: What will my child learn if I rush in to help now? While it is a parent’s instinct to help their child – Professor Hudson quotes research that proves shy children do illicit this helping response from adults – it is more helpful to step back and allow the child the opportunity to practise bravery and be courageous in situations where they feel shy.

4.
Be a Coping Model
Adults experience anxiety too, and when parents model how to face fearful situations without avoiding them, children are learning that it is okay to feel anxious yet still participate and enjoy a positive experience. Younger children will learn from watching parents cope well with fearful situations; school-aged children may benefit from discussing the coping method with their parent. 

5. Avoid Labelling Your Child as Shy

Professor Hudson doesn’t like labels, because “they stick…and we are teaching children they can shape their behaviours.”  Instead of saying, ‘You’re shy’, say, ‘You didn’t feel confident in that situation.’ Well-meaning strangers or even the children themselves, may be the ones to apply the label ‘shy’. Re-frame it, so you are labelling the feeling, not the child, asserts Professor Hudson.

Small steps and gradual successes over time can increase a child’s confidence to tackle fearful situations.The goal is for children to engage with daily life activities and enjoy positive experiences.

For more information on the programs offered for children and adolescents at the Centre for Emotional Health visit www.centreforemotionalhealth.com.au or call (02) 9850 8711(02) 9850 8711.