Is your tot one to shy away from new encounters and situations that are foreign to them? Though it’s common for kids to be timid when they are introduced to new people or a foreign environment, parents tend to expect kids to adjust to the environment and become a crowd pleaser. However, instead of labelling your child as “a shy one” which may deter them from becoming more confident, there are a few steps you can take to help them deal with their anxiety in social situations and possible insecurities.
Address your own anxiety
When it comes to a foreign environment or meeting people you don’t usually see on a frequent basis, adults too start to get anxious. Children are sensitive to the change in our behaviour and start to display shy behaviour in front of others. Instead of forcing them to come out of hiding and facing the situation head on, set aside your own frustrations and remind them of something that they’re confident about, like showing their favourite toy to the new friend.
Plan appropriate outings
Instead of failing to make plans, schedule outings for activities that are less chaotic and more orderly. Kids who are shy and easily overwhelmed do better when they have a better idea of what to expect.
Avoid the crowd
In situations where it’s definitely going to be crowded, for example, if your child is going to school for the first time, bring your child to school early so that they can get used to the environment before the crowd starts to file in. This helps them to settle in naturally and feel more comfortable to express themselves.
Give your child an option for a break
Whether it’s at school or outdoors, let them know of what they can do if they ever need to remove themselves from the new social situations. Tell them to follow the proper procedure when in school by alerting their teacher or where you will be if they need to locate you for a break. Sometimes, a little time away is all they need to avoid serious anxiety.
Help your child to learn how to take interest in others
Low-esteem, embarrassment or anxiety may affect children in more ways than one. Sit down together as a family to discuss their fears and explain to them about the positive things they can focus on to build confidence instead. Once they articulate their problems and feel more confident, tell them some simple questions they can ask new friends. You can also practise at home with them and give them little rewards for good ideas.
Remember to let your child ease into it and take their time with learning how to socialise with others – it’s a learning process and everyone adapts in their own way!