It is absolutely undeniable that every child is unique and different. No two are alike. As parents, we know that each boy or girl has its own temperament and personality, its own way of interacting with the world, and its own preferences and tastes from the moment they are born.

As children grow up, we can observe how some are more spontaneous and open and others are more shy and withdrawn. Some children easily strike up a conversation with strangers, while others hide behind Mum until they can ‘break the ice’. In the latter case, how should parents act? Is it necessary to intervene and modify their way of being or is it preferable to wait and respect their way of being in the world? Intervene, wait, respect? What should we do?

Children’s shyness is not a problem

First of all, we must understand that shyness in the first years of life is not a problem. Only after six or seven years of age does a child openly show problems in relating to their peers and we should talk to a child psychologist. As they grow and develop, children acquire different skills and abilities, including social-emotional skills. Social skills that will allow them to interact with others in a healthy and rewarding way. These, contrary to what we believe, are innate, so we are not born with them and we can learn them. The best teachers in childhood are the reference adults (the parents) and from them and with them children learn how to relate to others.

Many parents ask about their children’s shyness at the age of 2 or 3, or at the age of 4 or 5. These parents worry that their children do not know how to relate properly with their playmates in the park or at school. They are afraid that they will not know how to defend their interests in front of others, that they will be left aside or even made fun of.

This concern is completely normal and understandable, since whenever we talk about shy and withdrawn children we do it from a negative point of view, from the need to encourage them with the confidence they lack to increase their self-esteem. It is true that we must provide these children with social skills and personal resources so that they can, in the future, relate to others without difficulty, but at the same time parents must be cautious and respect the time of each boy or girl. Before seeking professional help and intervening, parents should understand that there are children that need more time than others to adapt and relate, and that takes more time to feel comfortable and open with others.

But, there are also other children who simply choose not to participate in some social activity because it doesn’t interest them. Whatever the case, we must respect their way of proceeding without pressuring them to greet, kiss, or interact with the grandmother, the teacher or the person in the class who wants to play with them.

What are the reasons for children’s shyness?

A child can be shy for a variety of reasons. Starting from the most common ones, there are issues such as insecurity or the fear of not being enough. There are also cases related to the fear of others’ judgment. The child feels so uncomfortable in front of the possible “evaluation” of other people that he/she ends up closing up. There are still issues such as the fear of not being accepted, the lack of attention, and even a high level of perfectionism. In general, these conditions remain present and get stronger unless something is done.

How does shyness affect children’s lives?

The big thing is that childhood inhibition has some negative consequences on development and throughout childhood. Shy children tend to isolate themselves and this hinders the formation of interpersonal bonds. It is not common for a very shy child to have few friends or to feel excluded.

There are also damages in the development and even in the learning process. After all, shyness can make a child not want to ask questions or show any difficulty. On the other hand, he/she doesn’t present ideas and suggestions – and relationships are the most affected. If the issue does not receive the right attention in the early years, it can spread into adulthood. This will lead to an individual who is less likely to form attachments and even insecure in general.

The answer is to be respectful of their way of being and that means not forcing, insisting, not forcing. It means accepting their reactions and not giving importance to their behaviour, or their refusal to greet or interact with others. It means giving them time to decide whether or not to participate, to see and observe the situation.
CREDIT: VLADA KARPOVICH / PEXELS

What should we do if our child is shy?

The answer is to be respectful of their way of being and that means not forcing, insisting, not forcing. It means accepting their reactions and not giving importance to their behaviour, or their refusal to greet or interact with others. It means giving them time to decide whether or not to participate, to see and observe the situation.

If we don’t force, if we don’t oblige, if we don’t insist, the boy or girl who is initially shy and withdrawn will have the opportunity to start a social relationship when he or she feels ready. The more we insist, the worse it will be, so we have to avoid it:

  • Reproaching, criticizing, or punishing their way of being.
  • Fighting because he or she doesn’t want to kiss or say hello.
  • To answer for him or her when he or she is asked a question.
  • Compare him or her to other children or siblings, because each child is special, unique, and incomparable.

Accept your child as he or she is, providing him or her with different opportunities for social interaction and respecting his or her time. Children need time to learn how to act in society.

What is the relationship between theatre and shyness?

Some activities help to break down these “walls” and one of them is theatre. Creative or guided performance on stage creates a safe space where children learn and experience new things. With the right pedagogical approach, inhibitions can also be overcome.

Helps to express emotions

Many shy people find it difficult to reveal how they feel, no matter how simple it may seem. The theatre helps children to lose this inhibition, mainly through role-playing. In this case, it is interesting to stimulate the child to “imitate” or display emotions characteristic of the characters. The combination of gestures, facial movements, speech, and other qualities will facilitate the task of expressing one’s own feelings. With this, communication becomes fluid and appropriate.

Reinforces body awareness

Many shy people suffer from a lack of body awareness and are therefore considered clumsy or clumsy. When the focus is on the connection between drama and shyness, this aspect can be addressed in a playful way. Encouraging mimicry, for example, is a great way to work on the body and facial expressions. The child will feel comfortable experiencing these sensations and will end up with more self-knowledge.

Encourages creative thinking

Theatre is an art and, therefore, it is already determined to stimulate the creativity of the little ones. Living funny, exciting, or adventurous stories takes the little ones to other realities. This facilitates self-expression and makes the shy ones feel “freer” to imagine. One way to reinforce creative thinking, while helping to break inhibitions, is to encourage improvisation. The child may feel some difficulty at first, but then he will notice how capable he is. Over time, it will be possible to notice an important evolution in this sense.

Encourages interpersonal relationships

As seen, shy people have extra difficulty establishing good interpersonal relationships. This barrier can be broken down with the help of theatre since teamwork is part of everyday life on the stage. The idea is to stimulate activities in pairs or in groups, as a way of integrating talents and joining forces. These options get the little ones interacting and ensure that the results are satisfactory in general.

Raises children’s self-esteem

The truth is that the theatrical practice helps to solve one of the possible causes of shyness: low self-esteem, which leads to insecurity. With time, it is normal that the little ones feel more and more confident and better with the results obtained. This is a result built with consistency and with several activities. From doing a short monologue to receiving a role in the play, everything helps to ensure a sense of achievement and recognition. By being in an environment where they are not judged, children tend to feel looser and more prepared.

What is the role of the school and the family?

For children’s disinhibition to become a reality, both the family and the school are essential. The union between these two elements in the child’s life makes all the difference so that good results can be achieved. Selecting a school with this kind of activity, for example, is crucial to including theatre in the child’s routine. At the same time, the family needs to be involved with the pedagogical practices and even stimulate them at home.

The idea is to create environments in which the little one feels safe and confident to express himself and explore new possibilities. With the right support from family and school, the results are adequate. The link between theatre and shyness is very strong, as this activity can help with disinhibition. With a consistency of performance and collaboration between school and home, it is possible to ensure that shy children feel freer to explore and experiment!

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How do I help my child with shyness? - Parents Room & Child Development Articles | A Matter Of Style

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