When you’re at home your child is a non-stop chatterbox. But, as soon as you get out in public, he or she hides behind you and doesn’t say a peep.
Outsiders may think your child is being anti-social, when in reality that’s not the case.
You just have a shy kid and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Take it from someone who knows.
My youngest daughter was extremely vocal at home (and still is), but quiet as a mouse in front of people she didn’t know.
Fast forward a couple of years and that is no longer the case. While she won’t go up to a stranger and start talking their ear off, the days of hiding behind mommy are over!
How did we get there? I’m no expert, but I do speak from experience! Here are my tips if your child is on the shy side:
- Don’t make a big deal out of it. In the grand scheme of problems your child could face, shyness is not a big deal. In fact, I even shudder at calling it a problem. We’re not all built to be extroverts and that’s ok. Instead of pushing your child to talk more or to be more outgoing, celebrate who they are. They’ll come out of their shell when they’re ready, not when you or someone else tells them.
- School helps…a lot. When my daughter started going to school she was scared she wouldn’t make any friends. Maybe that’s because she knew she would have to talk to other kids to build those bonds. Guess what? When you want to make friends, you’ll start talking and that’s just what she did. She made friends and found other kids to talk to and sit with at lunch. For a “shy” kid, that’s a big accomplishment.
- Give it time. One thing I’ve learned about being a parent is that the more you force something, the worse it is with kids. Kids do things in their own time. While it may not be on our schedule or as quickly as we would want it, they’ll get there. It’s our job to encourage them and boost their confidence.
- Encourage play with other kids. If you have friends with children around the same age, invite them over. If your child is in the comfortable setting of his or her home that may lead them to be more interactive as they show their guests their toys and favorite games. Kids are no different than adults in that they’ll thrive in places they are most comfortable. If you see them branching out when you invite people over to your home, maybe schedule the next playdate at a friend’s house.
- Get them involved. If your child gravitates towards art or music or enjoys playing a sport, get them involved. When they’re doing something they love with other kids who have the same interests, they may be more likely to shed their shyness.
In my opinion, the bottom line is to not let your child feel as though something is wrong with them because they may not be as outgoing as some other kids. They may get there someday or they may not. We all march to the beat of our own drum. Let your child embrace it and own it!
Written by: Kristina Cappetta
Edited & Designed by: Christina Denham
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.