Everyone is swept by the present environment of self-expression and free speech. The only ones to be left behind are those who are more reserved and shy in nature. Being shy is a matter of choice and mental orientation of a person. Some like to keep more to themselves while others can open up easily and with every one. For adults it is not a matter of worry. But often parents who notice their child to be a little shy are concerned about the child`s social well-being. In some cases, shyness may mean a little less achievement in academics as there could be lost opportunities. It may cause your child to be lonely due to his inability to connect. At times, it may distance the child from his own parents. To help your child overcome shyness and become more open, here are some simple things you can do as a parent:

    1. Never label the child The first important change has to come in your approach towards the child. Labeling `my child is shy` is going to make your task not just difficult, but all the more exasperating. Adults who interact with your child must also be made aware of the fact that when we use a label, the child has little option but to behave any different from it. Being shy is not a stigma, it is just how the child behaves. Children hear the disappointment in the tone of their parent when they call their child shy and it hurts them.


    1. Teach the child to be independent Sometimes over-protectiveness on the part of the parent causes shyness. Parents who are always speaking up for the child or helping the child tend to overshadow the child. Begin with making your child independent and building your child`s self-esteem. Let him do his things on his own and appreciate him for his efforts as well as what he achieves. When your child is combing his hair on his own, naturally it will not be very neat. Be appreciative and do not make fun. Let him tie his shoe laces by himself. When children feel confident of themselves, they will not try to hold back.


    1. Understand the real emotion behind the behavior Shyness is not an emotion. It is a response from the child when he finds himself in a new situation. Your child may be unprepared for a public speaking event and appears shy to speak. It may well be that your child is pre-occupied with thoughts of his own and hence not participative enough to speak up. Perhaps there is something your child does not approve of, or finds discomforting which he cannot express. Ask simple questions like, did you enjoy the snacks` Which song did you want to hear instead` Who did you find to be the funniest` This information is very crucial to enable your understanding of your child`s orientation and observations of the situation. Pay attention to the information you gather. It will lead you to the next step.


    1. Don`t force the child to be a `performer` When guests come, most parents cannot resist asking their child to recite a newly learnt poem, song, etc. Imagine yourself having to perform in front of a different age group, whether or not you know them, regardless of your own mood, and without a convincing reason. You will perhaps do everything to avoid finding yourself in that situation ever again.Parents love to hear their child`s poem, again and again. The sad truth is, not all of your guests are genuinely interested. You may not have noticed it, but the child has. Going deeper into the situation, you would surely get to know how you have played a part in the child`s behaviour, in spite of your best intentions. A more positive approach to sharing your child`s talent is to ask your child to prepare his favourite story or song in advance. Let him choose who he would like to perform before. You could also encourage your guest`s child to prepare as well. This would be a healthy and positive way to enjoy your child`s talent.


    1. Introduce the child to newer environments Sometimes what we judge as shyness is only the initial anxiety or discomfort which the child faces in a new environment. That feeling is natural and normal. An effective way to help your child deal with new situations is to expose the child to new environments very gently, but regularly. Let him watch a street performer, or a candle light protest, a potter or a librarian at work. Show him various kinds of people, professions and activities. This will help him to understand and appreciate all kinds of people. It will make it easier for him to connect.


    1. Take small steps Even if you are doing all that has been suggested, do not expect a drastic change. In fact that is not desirable either. Give time to your child to adapt his natural responses to the new environments and activities he is being put through. Your child will not take you by surprise here, but he would gradually show signs of becoming more comfortable and relaxed in new environments.Try this : when you are buying something for the child, instead of asking the child to speak to the sales person let him pay the cashier. A cashier is more reserved as compared to the sales person and therefore does not come as a contrast to your child`s behaviour. A book shop is quieter compared to other stores. Let him choose the story book on his own. Take the child to a story reading session or a musical play. Though these are interactive performances, these are not noisy and overwhelming for the child.

  You must be very careful to keep your actions extremely mild and never lose patience. Anything extreme would upset the child as shy children are more sensitive and perceptive about their environment.

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