When your child avoids social interaction, such as hiding behind your legs at the playground or clutching the wall at a birthday celebration, it’s simple to classify them as shy. However, a socially distant youngster may not be shy at all; they may simply be an introvert, suffering from typical separation anxiety, or, in rare situations, having a social phobia.
But don’t be too eager to identify someone with social phobia. True social phobia, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, entails a great dread of being observed, judged, or humiliated by anxieties that interfere with the ability to develop connections.
This illness is quite uncommon, affecting approximately 5% of teenagers around the age of 13. However, many more children and adolescents exhibit shyness or mild social anxiety, such as feeling anxious at social situations, avoiding eye contact, and escaping to solitude at the first opportunity.
If these characteristics sound familiar, continue reading to learn how to help your quiet child succeed.
How To Help Your Quiet Child
Allow Your child To Stay As Comfortable As He Needs To Be
It’s common, even healthy, for babies and toddlers to suffer separation anxiety when they’re separated from their primary caregiver, especially between the ages of 8 and 3.
But what about toddlers who show signs of distress even when they aren’t separated from their primary caregiver, such as clinging to a parent’s arm or sobbing or withdrawing when introduced to a new playgroup?
According to Psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., co-author of Growing Friendships: A Kid’s Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, these children may be sluggish to warm up.
“A slow-to-warm-up disposition is not inherently a poor style of communicating,” Kennedy-Moore explains. “While some children want diversity and jump into new circumstances, others are more cautious. They prefer to observe and learn the lay of the ground before diving in.
Again, these aren’t always shy [socially nervous] children.” If your child is sluggish to warm up, give him or her plenty of time to acclimatise to each new social context.
Arrive 15 minutes early to toddler gym, for example, and introduce your child to the instructor beforehand. Choose programmes or activities for your child that allow them to stay by your side (or on your lap) while they adjust to their new social group.
Try Not To Label Your Child As Shy or Quiet
Even if your child is definitely shy, Kennedy-Moore advises against using that label. “Be cautious with categorising your child as’shy,’ as this indicates that this is an unchangeable aspect of who they are.
Instead, offer something like, ‘You like…’ or ‘You’re more comfortable doing…’ These sentences respect your child’s sentiments while also allowing for growth and change.”
Though you should not push a disturbed youngster to socialise, there may be instances when you should teach your child to encourage smoother social navigation.
Because they are afraid of the unexpected, socially hesitant youngsters may dread particular social situations, such as the first day of school or a birthday party.
Take the surprise out of feared confrontations by discussing each facet of the meeting ahead of time.
Discuss, for example, what your child will do when they board the school bus (welcome the driver, look for pals on board, then take a seat) or arrive at the party (hang up your coat, put the gift on the gift table, and greet the birthday kid).
Play out difficult scenarios with your child to help them learn.