Just like adults, not all children are extroverts. Some children are more comfortable around strangers and new situations than others. While some children will grow out of this shy stage, others will always avoid the spotlight.
There are steps parents can take to encourage their children to come out of their shell.
- Lead by example: Children learn by watching the people around them. If you are able to approach new people and situations easily and with confidence, your child will pick up on this. Show them that there is nothing to be anxious about, and you should have no problem easing their fears.
- Encourage your child to try things outside of their comfort zone: Encourage them to say “hi” to a new person, or join other children at play. If you want to make this easier for them, try doing a little role playing ahead of time, so the situation is not totally new to them.
- Embrace your child’s interests: If your child is athletic, artistic, or has a keen interest in something, encourage them to embrace it. A hobby or interest can help a child build confidence, and make new friends… potentially bringing them out of their shell.
- Reward your child when they succeed outside of their comfort zone: Verbal praise and kudos go a long way with a child who is trying something they are unsure of. Whether it’s speaking to someone new, or trying a new game, praise them for trying something new.
When to speak with your healthcare provider: If your child gets overly anxious or upset when meeting strangers, or spending time away from you – or gets extremely sad or severe prolonged anxiety it may be a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider.