From Shy to shine
Shyness is very common among children. More than one in three adults say that they were shy at some time during their childhood. Many parents think that their children will outgrow their shyness, but if your child has had noticeable periods of shyness for more than six months, then shyness has likely become a pattern of behavior, and this is definitely a pattern you will want to break.
Most shy children show very early signs of anxiety and hypervigilance when they are very young-just a few months old. Scientist tell us that there is gene for shyness, and that if children are born with this gene, their brains are wired to react with more anxiety and fear that children who do not have this gene.
The good news is that children can learn the emotional, social, and, behavioral skills to overcome their genetic predisposition to shyness, and the earlier that they do this, the better. In fact, studies using standard tests of behavior and personality suggest that children, who are taught skills to overcome their shyness at an early age cannot be distinguished from children who were never shy.
What causes children to be shy?
Many children are just naturally bashful or more sensitive than other children. In some cases, shyness is situational — like the first time your child rides the school bus or goes to a new class. Shyness can be a reflection of past experiences as well. Often situational shyness will go away on its own. And in some cases, shyness can actually be a good thing: Your child is more likely to observe their surroundings before acting and is less likely to talk to strangers.
If shyness is impeding your child’s ability to participate in regular activities or perform simple tasks this can be a problem. There are some people who are so shy that they can’t do simple day-to-day tasks like buying a movie ticket, ordering a meal at a restaurant or leaving the house because they’re afraid of meeting new people. In these cases, shyness is becoming a barrier to activities of daily living.
For situational shyness, it can be helpful to practice a few behaviors that make them nervous. For example, if your child is nervous about speaking in front of their peers, you can have them practice in front of a mirror or in front of people they trust in order to become comfortable. If they are working on meeting new people, have them practice how they would approach a new person with you or other people they already know.
The more they practice, the less likely they’ll feel overwhelmed when they encounter the situation.