As young toddlers start to grow, so do their unique personalities. It is quite normal for young children to be reluctant to interact with new people, or hide behind your leg for a bit. However, if you feel that your child is abnormally shy, and it doesn’t seem to wear off after being around people for longer periods then their shyness may be negatively affecting them.
What are the possible causes of extreme shyness?
- Learned behaviour from parents, role-models or siblings
- Genetics passed down from parents who are shy or anxious
- Limited social interaction from a young age
- Bullying or harsh criticism from people who are closest to them
- Their unique personalities may cause shyness
What is the harm in my toddler being shy?
- It can reduce their ability to develop and socialise
- It can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation
- It can limit their chances in partaking in fun and rewarding activities
- It can make it difficult to make and keep friends
- It can increase anxiety levels
- It can manifest in physical ways (stuttering, blushing, shaking)
- It can make it harder to reach their full potential as they may not want to try and fail
What can I do if my child is shy?
- Never criticise your child for being shy
- Model confident behaviour yourself
- Try not to verbally label your child as shy as they may carry on living up to that
- Gently congratulate your child when they treat new situations in a positive way
- Slowly introduce them to new social situations, like a parent and child class, where you are with them to help them along
- Encourage them to verbalise how they are feeling when they are shy so you can talk through it with them
- Give them examples when you were shy and how you overcame it
If you feel that your child’s shyness is getting worse, limiting their happiness or bordering on anxiety – ask your doctor to recommend a child psychologist or play therapist who can work through these issues and help teach them coping tools to use going forward.
If you would like to encourage your child to socialise in a relaxed environment with you by their side – find a Toptots Parent & Child class near you