3 Easy Ways to Encourage the Shy Child

Do you parent a hesitant, anxious or painfully shy child? Does your child become anxious about doing new things such as asking for things she wants, inviting a friend over, or RSVPing for a birthday party? If so, here are 3 simple steps to consider in helping her to go outside of her comfort zone.

1. Provide encouragement. Provide verbal support. Let your child know you believe in her.

2. Give prompts/words to use.  This is important because your child may simply not understand the social conventions necessary in getting what she wants. Give her the actual words to say in order to get her needs met.

3. Don't rescue. When we rescue a child, we are robbing her of the opportunity to spread her wings and learn new skills. Additionally, we are sending the message, "You're right, you can't do this. I'd better do it for you." (When your child is incredibly reserved and it causes anxiety for her to do new things, you may wish to say to her, "I will go up with you and stand, but you can do the talking." The goal would be to then work towards her completing the new behavior on her own.)
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Case in Point

Today, I got to see just such an interaction play out beautifully at a local fast food place, while I was waiting for my daughter's movie to let out.
A mom with three small children sat in the booth behind me.  A little girl about 8 years old decided she wanted to get some fries.  Her mother handed her the money and told her to go ahead and get some. 

The child hesitated. "No, you go."

The mom persisted, "You can do this.  Here is the money.  Just go to the counter and say you would like a small fry."

"I don't want to," murmered the child.

The mom continued to encourage her, "There is nobody up in the line right now and I can see you perfectly from here.  You can do this!"


The mom added,  "It might be easier to go now, while nobody else is up there.  That way, you won't have to wait."

Up the little girl went, looking back at her mom as she made her way to the counter.  She ordered her fries and returned to the table, beaming from ear to ear! 

Pushing our children a little bit outside of their comfort zone, can yield a huge payoff in terms of them feeling competent, capable and self-sufficient.

How do you encourage your child to go outside of her comfort zone?


Eunice said…
Make sure to never call your child shy in front of others.

You said it! So, so, so important!

Wendy =)

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