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Is Your Child Shy?

Read on for tips to help your shy child improve her social skills and overcome her bashfulness.

Lata was the mother of bubbly six-year-old Kareena, who was a talkative, perky little livewire at home, but the minute she was placed in a social setting, she would immediately clam up. When Lata's friends would try and speak to Kareena, she would hide behind mama's sari and refuse to answer. With great difficulty Lata would manage to coax one or two sentences out of her, but no more. She couldn't understand how her child, who was such a chatterbox at home, could be so painfully shy in front of others.

Like Lata, many parents have children who can be very shy when placed in social situations. While they usually do gradually grow out of it, here's what you can do to help them make the transition smoother.

Entertain more

Have more get-togethers at home. This will help your child grow accustomed to having new people around her. Encourage your child to come out when you have guests over and greet them. Huge parties may overwhelm your child, so invite small groups, maybe even one person or one couple at a time over for tea or dinner. Make sure your child comes out and eats with the guests, not in her room. The more people you expose your child to, the more likely she is to open up.

Pay attention

Listen to your child when she is speaking to you, and give her your full attention. If you ignore your child when she is trying to get your attention or if you let your attention wander, she will sense it immediately and may start developing feelings of inadequacy. This will lead her to start speaking less. Similarly, even if you are living in a large joint family but no one really listens to your child or has long conversations with her, she will withdraw into a shell. Needless to say, this is just one of the reasons your child may be shy. There are many other reasons which have nothing to do with you. Your child may be shy even if you are the most attentive mother in the world. She probably just has an introverted nature.

Don't label her

Don't label her as shy, and don't discuss her shyness with others in her presence, otherwise she may get it into her head that she is shy, and will behave accordingly.

Public speaking

Speak with your child's teacher at school about your child's shyness, and request her to call upon your child often, along with other children, to read a paragraph from the textbook in class. Speaking up aloud in public will definitely help. Incorporate this public speaking culture at home, by teaching your child poems and then asking her to say them out aloud in front of your spouse, her grandparents or in front of other people in whose presence she is comfortable. Don't push her to perform in front of strangers.

Last of all, remember that shyness is a sign of sensitivity, which is a good thing and will help your child grow up to be a fine, compassionate person.


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