There’s nothing wrong with being a shy, quiet child. However, failure to develop social skills could haunt your little one for life, causing them problems forming friendships and intimate relationships and damaging some career prospects.
Caring parents don’t want to change their children, merely support their development to acquire the skills necessary to thrive as adults. Here are five tips to help a shy child with healthy socialization.
1. Consider Therapy
Please don’t buy into the stigma surrounding therapy. It’s easing, anyway, thanks to more people discovering the multiple benefits for more than treating severe mental illness. Today, even adults visit therapists for advice on navigating life events and forming positive relationships.
Introducing your children to therapy when young makes them more likely to make the healthy choice to seek help as adults. Specialty regimens such as applied behavioral analysis therapy involve structured and free play elements, allowing children to form positive relationships with their therapist. This guide can then introduce them to tangible skills for social interaction with others.
Please look into help if you struggle to afford treatment. You can apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Program through the Marketplace, even if you don’t purchase coverage for yourself. The cost of mental health care won’t go down after your child reaches 18 — please act now while you have options for more affordable care. You could spare your little one untold future heartache by getting them help now.
2. Expose Them to New Environments
If your child spends nearly all day, every day at home, it’s no wonder that they struggle to interact with others. They may lack sufficient practice. The solution? Expose them to as many new environments as possible, introducing them to others safely with you by their sides.
Make your outing engaging, fun and educational. For example, why not take your shy child to the park? They’ll feel more secure with you there and you can model behaviors like asking another little one playing alone to join you for a game.
Shy children might break out of their shells at specialty camps catered to their interests — and you can find educational, free versions. For example, retailers like the Apple store and Home Depot offer free camps that teach your children the basics of coding or building better birdhouses while introducing them to others in a friendly, educational environment.
3. Learn a New Language (and Meet a New Friend)
Many schools don’t introduce foreign language instruction until high school and offer it as an elective even then. This policy is unfortunate, as it fails to take advantage of how young children learn unconsciously as a state of mind. Adults and older children become mindful learners, thinking about information rather than absorbing it from their environment like sponges.
However, you don’t have to rely on your district. Today’s language learning apps make it possible for you and your little one to master a new tongue at home. Think of all the fun you’ll have when practicing together.
Once you learn enough phrases to feel comfortable having basic conversations, help your child find an international pen pal to correspond in their new tongue. Sites like MyLanguageExchange give your child real-world practice speaking a second language while making a new friend.
4. Choose Their School Carefully
Depending on your financial situation, you might think you have few choices in schools other than your local district. It’s probably not true unless you live in a remote area. Many states offer various free charter schools, and some private schools provide scholarship opportunities for needy students.
Shy children may gravitate toward online learning, but indulging this yen could leave them short on healthy socialization. Why not compromise on a hybrid arrangement, perhaps having your child take one in-person elective if nothing else?
When selecting a school, ask questions about the student-teacher ratio and how they handle behavioral issues. Some children become shy after starting K-12 learning because of bullying. Sufficient adult supervision and swift interventions can minimize instances of this destructive behavior, making the classroom a safer place for self-expression.
5. Encourage (But Don’t Push) Extracurricular Activities
Finally, encourage your child to participate in extracurricular activities. However, please don’t force them to join the football team because it was your childhood passion. If they express an interest, that’s one thing — but athletics aren’t your only option for after-school socialization. Shy children may gravitate toward quieter activities or more solo sports than rowdy team affairs like soccer and hockey.
Please remember that your child’s school isn’t the only place to look for healthy socialization activities. Many city and county parks and recreation departments offer various free teams and clubs that children of all ages can join.
You can also look into activities such as martial arts and yoga. Such classes teach children valuable lessons on self-discipline and respect, including how to interact with others. Your child will mix and mingle with folks of various ages, something that shy children may enjoy more than activities that include only those of the same age.
Helping a Shy Child With Healthy Socialization
Being shy isn’t an illness. However, letting your child reach adulthood without learning proper social skills will cause them problems.
Follow the above tips to help your shy child with healthy socialization. They’ll meet new friends while gaining the skills necessary to thrive.