Help a Shy Child Enjoy Social Interaction and Learn Social Skills Through Everyday Experiences
Every child is born with his own way of approaching the world. Learn how to help a shy child cope with new people, new experiences, and change in ways that suit their temperament.
Every child is born with his own way of approaching the world, which we call “temperament.” A child’s approach to new situations and unfamiliar people is one very important temperament characteristic. The fact is that some children are naturally more comfortable in new situations and jump right in, whereas others are more cautious and need time and support from caring adults to feel safe in unfamiliar situations. At the same time, these children are often very careful observers who learn a lot from what they see, and who may be more inclined to think through situations before they act—an important skill.
1. Make sure the child knows you love and accept them. Respect their needs, when you can. For example, if they don’t like being in big groups, keep birthdays small with only a few close friends instead of that big bash with 15 kids and a magician.
2. Avoid labels. Telling someone who is slow to warm up to “try not to be so shy” is like saying, “Try not to be yourself.”
3. Look for opportunities to build your child’s self-confidence and ability to assert himself. Notice your child’s interests, successes, skills, and milestones. Make time to play together doing things your child enjoys.
4. Make time for a shy child to warm up to new caregivers. Your child may never be the kid who runs right into the babysitter’s arms as you are going out the door. So plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to help your child get acquainted and comfortable with the caregiver.
5. Give notice about new people, events, and places. Let your child know that Uncle Bob is coming to visit, their friend’s birthday is later that afternoon at the park, or they are moving to the Bluebirds room at child care next week. Letting them know what to expect gives your child a sense of control, which can reduce anxiety.
6. Put what you think your child is feeling into words. “You are watching Marco build the castle with blocks. Want to see if we can join in?”
7. Read books about friendships. Some good books to share with babies and toddlers include the following: My Friend and I (Lisa Jahn-Clough), Big Al (Andrew Clements), Little Blue and Little Yellow (Leo Lionni), Gossie and Gertie (Olivier Dunrea), My Friends (Taro Gomi), or How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? (Jane Yolen).
Having family traditions builds a strong bond in a family, and the happy memories seem to be associated with more positive interactions when our kids become parents. The way we celebrate expresses what's significant to us and the traditions we perform tie us to past generations and give us a sense of belonging. What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Top 8 Holiday Books for your Preschool
1. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, illustrated by Sarah Massini.
2. Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares
3. Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht, illustrated by Jarvis
4. Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda
5. Walk this World at Christmastime illustrated by Debbie Powell
6. Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
7. Maple and Willow’s Christmas Tree by Lori Nichols
8. When Santa was a Baby by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Geneviève Godbout
December Crafts: Holiday & Winter Fun