How Can I Help My Shy Child?

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

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In This Episode :

How Can I Help My Shy Child?

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Sue speaks of Bereavement this week, but also of Awe…

As it turns out, the experience of awe might be just the emotion we need to create a better-shared future!

In a world that feels divided, where we are having trouble having civil conversations and so often fall into the trap of trying to convince others of our viewpoint, we need the kind of change that awe induces.

People care more about other people when they experience awe, and their tolerance for risk goes up. They become less afraid of uncertainty, lose their sense of ego, and become more connected to the world.

What is awe?

Awe is a complex emotional state.

A variety of experiences can trigger it, from seeing the Grand Canyon, to hearing a great speaker, to listening to the crescendo of a moving piece of music.

Studies have shown that experiencing awe makes us more prone to positive behaviour towards others. We are less likely to care exclusively about ourselves after experiencing awe and we feel better connected as a part of a larger whole.

I was delighted to see my book being shared on @allaboutpsychology to their 888, 391 followers!

Sue’s Answer :

Children learn by watching the people around them. So that means you!

So, role model confident, social behaviour yourself first.

Just imagine you have a camcorder on your shoulder for the week and notice how you behave in new situations, meeting new people, being in groups, etc and notice how you react and feel, because your child may be learning their behaviour from you! Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t like what you discover – just relax but work on yourself first and over time, your ability to approach others and put them at ease can help to put your child at ease, too.

Positive Things To Do . . .

  • Go first in social situations. take the lead and be the first person to say “Hello” or to introduce yourself or to strike up conversations.
  • Make a list of the kinds of things you would like your child to feel comfortable doing (e.g., talking with other children, asking for help from teachers or classroom assistants, making phone calls, etc) and make a point of doing these things in front of your child.
  • Be friendly. Routinely smile, say “hello” and greet the people you see as you go through your day confidently as this really helps your child learn positive ways to interact with others naturally.
  • Compliment others often. Notice what you like about people (friends, family, and strangers). Tell a stranger or casual friend that you like their scarf or tell a friend how wonderful their meal was.
  • Make an effort to help other people without being asked. Open doors for people, pick things up when people drop them, or offer to carry things for friends.
  • Role model taking risks and learning from them. Help your children learn by making positive comments about how you felt while you did things. Things like: “I thought that would be much, much harder than it was.” “That wasn’t much fun, but I’m glad I did it and got it out of the way. At least now I don’t have to worry about it.” Or, “That didn’t go as well as I thought it would, but at least I know what to do next time.”
  • Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill or join a fun club that appeals to you and let your children know what you’re learning, how you feel, and how you are improving – it all teaches them that learning new things and meeting new people is a positive experience.  Bring back the things you learn from your new class and share them with your family and friends. Show your children that learning new skills from a class is a good thing.
  • Teach your child how to look someone in the eye, shake their hand firmly or smile at a stranger. It builds confidence over time.

Start with family and friends and build up slowly from there, encouraging, praising what they get right, not focusing on what goes wrong.

Build confidence one small step at a time.

Shy children

My article to help

I have been working with a family with a little girl of 6 and we have been looking at helping her parents ask more ‘Open-ended questions’ to develop her independence, creativity and confidence.

Ways to Build Self Esteem

Sue’s Advice for Billie & Greg Shepherd  from The Mummy Diaries on – Self-esteem | Parenting Hacks | Disney Junior UK

The Sue Atkins Self-Esteem Checklist


My Interview on talkRADIO about self-esteem with Mike Graham

Be Your Own Cheerleader


Self-esteem Blog


Quick Win Video Series

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