Do you have a shy child at home who finds it difficult to make friends? It’s tough for little ones sometimes, especially if they lack self-confidence. As a parent it can be frustrating, because you see all the beautiful and wonderful things your child is and how much they have to offer.
We want to help, of course, but as ever we need to do it carefully. Here’s how to help your shy child make friends.
1Model the behavior
The best way to teach our kids is to model the behavior we’d like them to learn. When you’re at family functions, neighborhood get-togethers or other events, make a conscious effort to demonstrate socially-acceptable ways to make new friends. Show your child how to introduce him or herself, how to listen carefully, and the simple questions they can ask to help conversation flow easily.
If you’re having friends over, don’t hurry your child off to bed. Instead, let them see how you interact and how you treat each other. At bedtime, ask your child if they noticed anything they could try when it comes to making their own friends.
When you’re at the park, greet other parents and start a conversation. Introduce your child to theirs, and spend some time making sure they feel comfortable. Kids enjoy being treated like adults, so encourage them to act that way – suggest they take the lead in talking to another new child.
2Give positive feedback
Every child has their own talents, and you’ll know what your kid’s are. Whenever he or she has a great moment, give lots of positive feedback to boost their confidence. Even if something doesn’t go so well, focus on the good points and what they did right.
Every time your child hears encouragement, their self-esteem grows. It will make them more willing to go out on a limb and try new things – including making friends.
3Avoid emphasizing the negatives
All children will experience failure. It might be failing a test, losing a game, or missing out on an opportunity like a part in the school play.
It’s important to focus on the good points, even then. Yes, maybe they failed a test – but perhaps they got a question right about something they’d found really difficult. Show them that small victories count and should be celebrated.
4Encourage your child to be friendly
Not every kid is predisposed to being friendly. It may be a skill you have to teach. In social situations, point out people who act in a friendly way towards others, and ask your child to try and mimic them.
If this is too much, practice at home first. Ask your child to imagine a situation like meeting a new classmate for the first time. Role-play the scenario together and act out a few ways it might go and what your child could say or do. Don’t forget to give praise when they do well!
5Join clubs or groups
Shy children often stay away from clubs or groups for fear of being the “new kid” or being noticed when they don’t want to be. Start with groups that include parents and children – that way, your child won’t feel like you just dumped them and wished them good luck before rushing off!
Choose a club or group that focuses on something your kid excels at. For instance, if your child is great at painting pictures, get together with some other parents and kids at a local art class. If your kid is a Pokémon master, find a local group of kids who trade cards and play Pokémon Go. This way, your kid can feel confident in his or her skills while doing something they enjoy and meeting new people.
6Set up playdates with other shy kids
If you know other parents with shy kids, set up
Once the kids have participated in the activities, and spent some time getting to know each other, they will be more likely to want to come to the group playdate the next time.
7Praise your child for their accomplishments
Any time your child achieves something, shout it from the rooftops! Celebrate as a family, and tell the child how proud you are of what they have done and the hard work they put in. This type of praise is instrumental in building your child’s self-confidence.
Shy kids don’t have to be alone. You can give your child the necessary tools to grow their self-confidence and feel brave enough to reach out to other kids. They don’t have to become a social