Having a shy, or even just a slightly more reserved child, can sometimes be a challenge, just like it is often a blessing. No matter what kind of personality your child has, their uniqueness is likely one of the things you love about them, even if that means they’re a bit more reserved at times.
While some kids tend to be more introverted than others, it’s important to remember that introversion isn’t something in need of fixing — just as extroversion isn’t.
That being said, you can always do your part to help your child find comfort and break out of their shell. Here are a few ways to do just that.
1. Introduce Them to New Hobbies
Although directly pushing a child to break out of their shell will seldom work, it’s absolutely possible to motivate them from a place of passion and positivity. Namely, introducing them to new hobbies and activities can be a great opportunity for them to socialise with peers and bond over something they love. More often than not, shyness can be exasperated by a sense of awkwardness or not having much to talk about. With new hobbies and passions, that’s much less of a problem.
2. Put Them In Social Situations
In addition to introducing your kids to new passions and interests, putting them in social situations can be another way to help them get used to conversing with others and eventually break out of their shell. Taking them to light social events with other kids their age like school events, playgrounds and parks can be fantastic for shy kids. Try to follow your child’s interests, because they are much more likely to interact when they’re having fun.
3. Notice Their Preferences
Speaking of following your child’s interests, noticing how they interact with other kids and how they prefer to conduct themselves and communicate can help you place them in social situations that allow them to flourish. For example, if your child works best in structured, classroom-style activities, try taking them to art classes or more classroom-oriented activities. If your child works best in quiet environments, try inviting their friends over for a playdate in your calm household. It’s all about allowing your child to have agency.
4. Honour Their Boundaries
Speaking of agency, it’s extremely important to honour your child’s boundaries when they ask for certain things. In order to help your child out of their shell, you can’t force them to do things they are uncomfortable with — in fact, that can often make things worse. Instead, let them know that they can do whatever makes them happy and comfortable, whether that involves socialising or not. When they know they have your unconditional support, they will be more likely to try new things.
5. Nurture Their Friendships One-On-One
If your child has trouble breaking out of their shell, chances are they still have a friend or two that they really connect with. Even if it’s just one friend, that’s so much better than having no connections in their circle. Think about the kinds of friendships you value as an adult — they’re probably not the ones you see at parties and large social gatherings. Instead, the most valuable friendships are ones that blossom out of genuine connection one-on-one, and the same can be true for kids. Plan playdates, outings and activities with the people your child bonds with. That can have a profound effect on them.
6. Don’t Label Them As Shy
Identifying the qualities and traits that make your child unique can often help them work with what they have in order to grow and nurture their best qualities — most of the time, anyway. However, if you want your child to be able to break out of their shell, it can be important not to tie their identity to a quality that might not be serving them. If you remind them that they are shy, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just make sure that if you are bringing their shyness to attention, you are doing it for productive and kind reasons.
7. Get to the Root Of Things
Like mentioned above, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert or even being a relatively shy person. However, the tipping point often comes when you noticed that your child is uncomfortable with their method of interaction with the world. If their shyness is uncharacteristic or impacts their life in a negative way, it might be worth getting to the root of things and talking about where their shyness comes from. Perhaps examining it and talking things out can improve the situation.
Breaking Them Out of Their Shell
Everybody has their own unique personality, and that includes children. If you happen to have a child who is more shy or introverted, you can help them grow into the healthy socialisation that makes them most comfortable and fulfilled. By introducing them to new hobbies and social situations, but also respecting their boundaries, you can work with your child so they can experience life in a way that makes them happy!