Shyness

Parents sometimes worry about their child being too shy. If you do this, it can be good to realise that in most cases, shyness is a phase that lasts for a period of time and ends without any requirement for external intervention. The less you worry about it, the easier it is for your child to understand that rather than being a persistent character trait, shyness is a natural but transitory phase in their development and maturation.

It is also useful for both parents and caregivers to realise that all children are different: some are more extrovert while others are more introverted. All types are needed. Shy people often have skills and talents that extroverts only rarely possess.

Use the Kids’Skills steps to help your child learn this new skill. Let them suggest a name for it, spend time together working out safe ways in which they can rehearse their new skill, and move forward in small steps. One way of helping them rehearse in the safe environment offered by roleplay is to play a game where they teach a shy doll how to greet an adult doll.

Ben Furman, Finnish psychiatrist, psychotherapist and an internationally renowned teacher of solution-focused therapy, coaching and organizational development

Overcoming shyness

If you are worried about your child’s shyness, or they suffer as a result of being shy, you can help them become socially braver. The solution-focused way of doing this is to avoid spending time on trying to work out why your child is shy and focusing instead on helping them become braver.

Signs of social bravery

Start by asking yourself the following question: What would you regard as the first tiny indication that your child is becoming less shy or more socially brave. Would it be their deciding to talk to someone without being prompted to do so? Would it be their agreeing to greet someone? Would it be them approaching one of their peers and inviting them to play? Try to work out what you would regard as a small but significant sign of progress.

The skill to be learnt

We’ll assume that you think the first step would be for your child to learn how to greet someone they don’t yet know by telling them their name and perhaps even shaking hands. Your description of this small but significant change is the skill you wish your child to learn.

Use the Kids’Skills steps to help your child learn this new skill. Let them suggest a name for it, spend time together working out safe ways in which they can rehearse their new skill, and move forward in small steps. One way of helping them rehearse in the safe environment offered by roleplay is to play a game where they teach a shy doll how to greet an adult doll.

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