Is your child excessively shy? When shyness is extreme, it can have a profound effect on your child's life.
Gauri was a timid little eight-year old who seemed to find joy only in her world of fantasy. She loved reading and would spend long hours by herself locked up in her room reading the latest Enid Blyton or Harry Potter. She did not seem to have any friends. Her classmates made fun of her and called her a bookworm as she was extremely studious and did not take part in any extra-curricular activities. Her parents began to persuade her to mix with the other children of her age and to go down and play, but she flatly refused. After a while her parents started to get angry with her for disobeying their wishes but she still would not listen. In fact she seemed even more withdrawn then ever. Why was she so shy, and what could they do to help draw her out?
Parents of a shy child may initially seem happy to have such a gentle, quiet child on their hands, but the gravity of the situation only unfolds at a later date. He will begin to avoid even the most basic social interactions at all costs. You will never find an excessively shy child on the playground mixing with the other children. Avoidance of games and sports and a lack of fresh air and interactions paralyse the physical, mental and emotional growth of the child forcing him to grow inward rather than to blossom outward.
Most shy children are quiet when they are surrounded by people they don't know, but after some time they get comfortable. However, excessively shy children will go to any lengths to avoid situations. This may manifest into what is known as social phobia in adult life. They then start avoiding social outings or socializing as it brings them extreme discomfort, and they may not be able to talk at all. Although avoiding social events may be the easier way out, such a course of action is definitely not recommended, as the person will keep avoiding one activity after another, until he feels completely isolated.
Try and work on building your child's self confidence every step of the way. Make sure you give him the attention he is craving for. He may seem difficult at first, but as he starts getting used to the new found attention, he will start getting his bearings. Encourage him to socialize with children his age. He may have few or no friends at all. In any case, the best way to bring him out would be to place him in situations with new children his age.
Call over a friend with a child of the same age as your child, and let them play together. Your child will be more comfortable in his home environment. You could also organize a few games so your child does not feel strained with the burden of keeping his new 'friend' entertained. If your child feels that you are taking care of the situation, he will be able to relax and enjoy himself more.
Also, make sure you don't call more than one child at a time. Shy children feel much more comfortable in one-to-one situations than they do in groups.
In some cases it could be that the child has an inferiority complex and feels inadequate in comparison to a sibling who might be smarter or better looking than him or her. If this situation is not nipped in the bud, it could result in sibling rivalry and further stunt the growth of the child. If you feel that your two children are completely different from each other, consider putting them in different schools. In this manner, the comparison will lessen, and they will have completely separate sets of friends.
Consider taking your child to a counselor. Counseling really does help in situations like these, as the counselor will try his best to draw the child out. In addition, your child will be spending time with another person in addition to just his parents or siblings. The counselor will also work with you and with your child and provide you with tips on increasing his self confidence.
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- The Indiaparenting Team