How to Help Shy Kids Gain Confidence

Apr 18, 2023

Shelby Cook, LISW-S

Parenting Tips: How to Help Shy Kids Gain Confidence

How to Help Shy Kids Gain Confidence

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Is your little one a total chatterbox at home but gets weirdly quiet in public? According to the American Psychological Association, shyness is a person’s tendency to feel worried, tense, or awkward during encounters in a new environment and with new people. When it comes to kids, shyness is a personality trait that can be embraced and nurtured and not a flaw that one needs to fix. Therefore, if you have a shy child who struggles to openly communicate their feelings and participate in group activities, you have come to the right place. We have compiled three expert parenting tips to help shy kids gain confidence.

1.    Stop Calling Them Shy

One of the biggest mistakes that parents make when dealing with a shy child is that they start labeling them as nervous or shy. So, whether you are directly calling your little one shy or talking about them being low confident with someone else, labels can stick, making it impossible for the child to grow out of and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Even if you stop using the word shy around your child, other people around you, like teachers and parents, might call them out. Therefore, to ensure that the label doesn’t affect your child, rephrase the words and reply to people by saying, “John likes to think things through before rushing,” or “Mary likes to get to know people before she starts sharing.”

2.    Prepare Them for New Situations

Anxiety is a common contributing factor to shyness in children, and the only way to overcome this is by preparing your little one for uncomfortable situations. For instance, if you are taking your child for a play date at the park, prepare them by talking them through the situation. Let them know where they will go, the plan, and who will be there. You can also ask them questions and even take them to the park beforehand. This will help your shy child in visualizing the play date, preparing them for the new situation, and making them feel confident when the time comes.

3.    Avoid Pushing Things

Use the “Factorial Approach” to introduce your child to new things. This technique requires you to change only one or two factors. For example, if you want your child and another kid from the neighborhood to become friends. First, invite them to your house and let the kids place in your child’s bedroom or playroom (the place your little one is most comfortable). Next, once they become friends, change the environment by taking them to a part, and then as your child becomes more relaxed, invite new friends to the group. The factorial approach is an excellent technique to help shy kids gain confidence in everything from trying a new vegetable to making friends and learning to adapt.

In Conclusion

No two children are the same. In most cases, shyness is a perfectly normal, beautiful, yet innocent trait of a child. However, as a parent, it is your job to make sure that shyness doesn’t take over their personality and lead to problems in the future. Thus, try to understand introversion and use the parenting tips mentioned above to help your shy child gain confidence and become a better version of themselves.

A boy hiding behind a pillow.

Image Text: shy child

Alt-Text: parenting tips

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AskDrSEARS (2020). Parenting Shy Children: Personality Trait and Not Fault. Retrieved from AskDrSEARS.

ScienceDirect. (2016). The Factorial Structure of Cognitive Abilities in Childhood. Retrieved from ScienceDirect.

Frontiers. (2020). The Effect of Shyness on Adolescent Network Problem Behavior: The Role of Gender and Loneliness. Retrieved from Frontiers.