How to support a shy child – The Citizen

How to support a shy child – The Citizen

I frequently find my daughter hiding behind inanimate objects, and I don’t know what to do — or whether to worry. I reached out to a handful of psychologists to get answers, and here’s what I learned. Understand what shyness is (and isn’t)  People sometimes use the words “shy,” “socially anxious” and “introverted” interchangeably, but they all mean different things. If your child is shy, she might feel awkward or nervous in social situations because she fears negative judgment — she worries she will be rejected or humiliated. Social anxiety, on the other hand, is shyness on steroids: It’s a…

I frequently find my daughter hiding behind inanimate objects, and I don’t know what to do — or whether to worry. I reached out to a handful of psychologists to get answers, and here’s what I learned.

Understand what shyness is (and isn’t) 

People sometimes use the words “shy,” “socially anxious” and “introverted” interchangeably, but they all mean different things. If your child is shy, she might feel awkward or nervous in social situations because she fears negative judgment — she worries she will be rejected or humiliated.

Social anxiety, on the other hand, is shyness on steroids: It’s a diagnosable disorder characterised by a fear of being watched and judged by others that is so intense and persistent that it disrupts daily life. And then there’s introversion, which has nothing to do with shyness or social anxiety. It reflects a person’s preference for being alone or in small groups, based on what they find fulfilling and energising.

Remember that shyness isn’t a life sentence 

Shyness isn’t a fixed trait, either. In fact, kids often become less shy over time, because they learn the skills they need to manage social situations. “We don’t want to pigeonhole kids in the preschool years — ‘they’re going to be shy or outgoing’ — because there’s still a lot of change that can happen,” said Vanessa LoBue, Ph.D., a psychologist at Rutgers University.

Keep in mind that shyness ins’t a weakness

Our society has a cultural bias toward extroversion. “Shyness is not a bad thing — it’s a natural response to uncertainty or novelty, and for the most part, it’s really good,” said Koraly Pérez-Edgar, Ph.D., a psychologist who studies shyness at Penn State. When you arrive at a dinner party, you probably scan the room to get a sense for the energy and who’s there. That is precisely what shy kids do when they arrive at a birthday party or a new gymnastics class. They stick close to you while getting a sense of the room and what’s expected of them.

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Author: Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Source: https://citizen.co.za/parenty/2228377/how-to-support-a-shy-child/