Help Your Children Overcome Shyness

A message for parents

Help your children overcome shyness

Dr. Zuhur Ahmad Danish

There are some children who are overly hesitant, which is detrimental for them. Such children are reluctant in answering or reacting to things. Generally, when speaking to someone, they tend to cling to their parents, lower their head and leave, or close their eyes to protect themselves. Additionally, in school, they have a fear of answering the teacher’s questions and making friends. They enjoy sitting alone and watching the other children play, but avoid joining them or taking part in any other activity.

This undue hesitancy tends to go away by itself with age or at least decrease by a significant amount. Despite this, parents should pay attention to this whilst their children are young, or the latter may struggle to fully develop their skills. In this regard, it could prove to be beneficial if parents acted upon the following points:

16 mportant points in relation to removing shyness in children:

1.   It is not a bad thing for children to have some shyness and hesitancy. In fact, it shows them being mindful and considerate. If there is no shyness at all, the child may also exhibit a lack of self-awareness, so a small amount should be excused.

2.   Only reduce any excessive shyness to a certain extent, not so much so that the child has no regard for the situation and people.

3.   Avoid telling the child off over every minor matter. Grant them freedom to express themselves and to do as they wish, within a reasonable limit.

4.   If you must advise them about something wrong they said or did, then instead of doing it immediately, wait for an appropriate time and explain in a subtle manner.

5.   Never say in the child’s presence, “He is shy”, or “She panics a lot.” If someone else says this about them, instead of agreeing, make a positive comment. For example, ”مَاشَــآءَالـلّٰـه He has started to take part in various activities.” Remember, however, that whatever you say must be true.

6.   If children are avoiding certain things due to shyness, do not force them to take part in them. Take note of this, and gradually encourage them to take part in said activities to a partial extent. Also, praise the child when they achieve something big or small; this can sometimes be in an exaggerative manner by explicitly stating so, and sometimes in a less subtle way, even if it is a smile.

7.   If the shy child takes part in a game or any other activity and is unsuccessful numerous times, do not display anger or irritation in front of him, and do not even show signs of disappointment on your face. Smile and tell them things are usually difficult at first and assure them they will improve in the future.

8.   From time to time, take part in different games with the child, but allow him to do most of the activity.

9.   When the child is speaking, remain attentive towards him and allow him to speak properly so they can express themselves. Also, give satisfactory and informative answers to any questions he has.

10.   Never compare shy or easily discouraged children to their cousins, other children in the neighbourhood, their classmates, or even their own siblings. It is one thing to take note of this, but do not make these comparisons and other negative comments in front of the child, as this will greatly discourage him, ruin his self-worth, and the feeling of being inferior will only make him more hesitant.

11.   Instead of placing the child with more active and mature children, keep him close to children who are relatively younger and simple-minded. Also, provide him with toys, learning objects or informative books, and give him responsibility over these children. For example, say to him, “Son! Take care of them”, “Tell them about such-and-such thing”, “Teach them how to play such-and-such game”, or “Read these books out aloud to them”. This will give him a sense of responsibility and remove his hesitancy, to some degree.

12.   If you go to a family members home and the child is speaking to someone, do not constantly interject and tell him what to say. Also avoid publicly telling them how to speak in front of others. The child will not learn anything on such occasions, but his shyness will definitely increase.

13.   Parents should also inform school teachers about the child’s low confidence and hesitancy, so they can interact with the child accordingly.

14.   Do not inform the child about the feelings you have in relation to increasing their confidence and removing their shyness; be sure to be mindful of the child but do not reveal this to him. Meaning, do not make it obvious that you are overly cautious in relation to him, as this will only increase the child’s shyness and lack of confidence.

15.   Parents should not be overprotective of such children. They should send them to do small tasks, ensuring the child remains under their gaze. For example, whilst you are near the child, send them to the nearby shop to get something; remain behind him when travelling on a safe road and tell him to stay a few steps ahead; send the child to deliver a message to someone nearby or to ask them a question, or have the child give a donation to the masjid with their own hands. Likewise, when available, have them place some money into Dawat-e-Islami’s donation boxes, etc.

16.   Parents should deal with the child’s hesitancy gradually and periodically.

If you are unsuccessful in removing the child’s hesitancy and changing their feelings of low self-confidence, you can consult with a doctor, paediatrician, or psychologist.




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