En­cour­ag­ing shy chil­dren

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRIGHT KIDS -

FOR most chil­dren, preschool is the first time they ven­ture out of their com­fort zone. While some are im­me­di­ately ea­ger to par­tic­i­pate and play, more re­served young ones may find their in­tro­duc­tion to school over­whelm­ing. As a re­sult, they may seem quiet, with­drawn or un­in­ter­ested.

Par­ents of shy chil­dren are of­ten con­cerned about their chil­dren’s be­hav­iour, but chil­dren have dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties and mile­stones – they can­not all adapt or learn at the same pace. Adults can help ease the first school ex­pe­ri­ence by ac­knowl­edg­ing and talk­ing through their chil­dren’s feel­ings while prac­tis­ing th­ese steps:

– Whether it is a toy, book or pet, shar­ing their in­ter­ests with other chil­dren al­lows chil­dren to open up in a way that is fa­mil­iar to them while fos­ter­ing a sense of be­long­ing. In­ter­act­ing with the teacher and dis­cussing ways to in­te­grate lessons at home could also help chil­dren who learn bet­ter at their own pace or in a fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ment.

– Ar­range play dates or out­door ac­tiv­i­ties with other chil­dren from preschool. If one- on- one in­ter­ac­tion is hard, start by hav­ing the other child come over and play with the lit­tle one at your house, then move out­doors and

Bring their in­ter­ests to school

Fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­ac­tion

fi­nally to the other child’s home. Some­times, out­go­ing chil­dren are able to draw out a shy child’s per­son­al­ity by en­gag­ing him in a trust­wor­thy, com­fort­ing man­ner.

– As a car­ing par­ent, it is nat­u­ral to want to pro­tect your child by speak­ing on his be­half or ex­plain­ing to oth­ers that he is shy. How­ever, child psy­chol­o­gists warn that la­belling your child in this way gives him a rea­son to re­treat even more into his shell. Over time, “I am shy” be­comes a self- ful­fill­ing prophecy.

Chil­dren need to be given op­por­tu­ni­ties to speak for them­selves and, more im­por­tantly, build their con­fi­dence. Par­ents can do this by re­mind­ing chil­dren that they are loved, af­firm­ing their pos­i­tive val­ues, and as­sur­ing them that it is al­right to be dif­fer­ent.

– A great way to over­come un­fa­mil­iar­ity is to widen the range of ac­tiv­i­ties and sights that your kids are ex­posed to.

Take them to places with new smells, food, peo­ple or mu­sic so they can dis­cover that the great, big world has so much to of­fer if they open up and in­ter­act.

It may seem scary at first but con­fi­dence is built, so give them op­por­tu­ni­ties to adapt and find their foot­ing while gen­tly en­cour­ag­ing them.

Don’t fix la­bels or over­pro­tect

Ex­pose them to new things

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