Once upon a time there was a child who was very shy. She did not like to talk to adults, even when directly spoken to in gentle tones. She would turn away from them and look down at her feet. When it was time for preschool, her mom thought it would be a wonderful chance to get to know new friends and start anew with interests and teachers who would draw her out. And all of a sudden, poof!, she became a confident, outgoing child that chatted away with peers and teachers alike. She shed her shy ways forever and lived happily ever after.
The above was a fantasy of mine when my daughter was 2. Her brother, though a little more open to the efforts of adults and children to engage, was also on the shy side. As you can see, the expectations I had of my children were that they should be outgoing, friendly, respectful. After all, I was all those things, so why shouldn’t my kids be? (Insert sarcastic face).
To my chagrin and embarrassment, my children would look as if they were outright ignoring and disrespectful of others during social situations. Despite some efforts of mine to ‘make them just talk already!’ it would inevitably end in frustration and despair. Would they never learn to socialize? Would they always come off as disrespectful and rude? Why can’t they just learn to converse with adults and peers on their own?
Over the years I’ve learned that my children’s temperament is their own. Some children are naturally shy, some are naturally outgoing and my way of nurturing them may have little to do with the personality they will become, because they are who they are and no amount of nitpicking will change them! The discussion of nature versus nurture is one that we won’t go into here, and honestly above me. In an increasingly global culture where communication skills are vital to participation in the workforce and let’s face it, a basic life skill, building in our children the ability to be confident communicators is an important goal. Here are some tips to help a shy child:
You know your child best and helping them to extend their learning in any area of development can be challenging. In the end, we all want our children to experience and know the love and acceptance that is theirs in Christ. Encouraging your child to be confident in his/her own skin, acknowledging efforts to be more outgoing, and empowering them to move beyond their shyness all under the umbrella of God’s love are part of the journey of parenthood and we’re all walking through it together. Hope this helps!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”- Jeremiah 29:11
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