Shyness the basics
Everyone knows someone who’s shy – they blush when spoken to, they avoid being the focus of your attention, they’re often softly spoken and very understated. They’ll never make a fuss and they’re often overlooked.
While many children go through a phase of experiencing shyness, particularly when they’re in a new situation, there are those who are born shy and will always be shy – it’s just part of their temperament. If you are a parent of a shy child, you will have to teach her ways to manage it so that she doesn’t miss out on opportunities as a result of her shyness.
What is shyness?
Shyness is extremely common in children – as many as 20% of children are shy. It’s an emotion that creates feelings of self-consciousness, embarrassment, nervousness and anxiety in the sufferer and it effects how she engages with those around her. In small children, shyness often expresses itself in an unusual clinginess and a resistance to flying solo in a social setting.
Shy children can often be seen on the periphery of a group of their peers, wanting to be included but unwilling to break into the group and become the focus of attention.
- may prevent your child making eye contact during conversation
- may stop her from getting involved in games and activities that she’s interested in
- may make her uncomfortable entering places – even familiar ones like the playground or the local park – on her own
- may make her avoid becoming the centre of attention – even when that attention is praise for good work
Shy children: the good news
- they often do well at school because they don’t get involved with classroom distractions and don’t want to bring attention to themselves with poor grades
- they are well behaved
- they are easy to look after and tend to be respectful of adults
- they are often good friends because they’re not aggressive or competitive
- they are great listeners
Shy children: the bad news
- they are prone to loneliness and unhappiness as a result of their difficulty to create friendships
- they can suffer from low self-esteem because they struggle socially
- they are often overlooked because they are polite and patiently wait their turn without fuss
- high anxiety and stress about social situations can result in physical symptoms such as stomach and headaches
- they miss out on opportunities to be involved in sport, drama, dancing etc. because of their unwillingness to put their hand up and be noticed
- shyness brings with it a range of physical effects – blushing, trembling, nervous laughter – that can make the sufferer feel her shyness even more strongly
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