“What is your name?”
“Come to me, I’ll give you a chocolate!”
“Do you want to play with this red football?, come let’s do it together!”
“Do you know Johnny Johnny Yes Papa!”
These are the regular questions, remarks, comments that a kid often comes across when he meets strangers. Many kids shy away and refuse to answer, hiding behind their mother and many others are more than happy to answer these questions!
Shyness in children and their refusal to socialize easily and comfortably often worries and troubles us. We all ‘secretly’ wish and want our kids to be tagged as a “smart kid” who answers all questions, recites all poems she knows, smiles when she meets people and is comfortable in public places. And it’s not just about our secret wishes and wants but also about the benefit that kids derive from socializing. If they are open to socializing, they:
- Become more independent individuals and open up faster
- Expose themselves to all kind of people in the society and learn the reality of life sooner
- Learn to share with others (Be it their toys, food, books etc.)
- Develop a better understanding of what is right and wrong
- Develop interest in different aspects of life, like arts, sports, people etc.
- Do not grow rigid and gradually learn to adjust with whatever comes their way
- Develop important qualities like having patience; being caring, loving, sacrificing, communicating frankly etc
However, if we put ourselves in the shoes of our kid, we would realize that it is very pressurizing for a child to be the ideal we want her to be. In such a case, we need to help our kids become comfortable with strangers (only to a safe extent) and help them part away with their shyness and refusal to socialize.
Here are a few steps we can take to help our child grow out of the shield of shyness that he holds and shed the cocoon naturally:
- Do not expectDo not expect your child to be a ‘good girl’ or a ‘good boy’ all the time. Do not expect them to answer all questions that people ask them. Do not expect them to sing or dance or mimic in front of people when asked to. We need to begin with this change (of not expecting from them) in ourselves if we want our kid to become more open and extrovert.
- Do not pressurize Do not repeatedly say to your kid things like, ‘when we go there, you got to behave well and say Hi to all aunts and uncles’. Why should she? Let her be. Instead, when you go to a party or in a public place, take her along with you meeting all people (without asking her to do any of it). She shall watch you meeting people and talking to them comfortably and the message that socialization causes no harm will subtly trickle down to her sub-conscious mind.
- Never scold her for not opening up Never say to your child ‘why didn’t you talk properly when she was talking to you?’ or ‘why didn’t you give your toy to Sarah?’. Do not scold her for her behaviour. Say encouraging words instead, like, ‘it was great to meet Sarah today! How about taking your toys for her the next time we meet?’ This will mentally prepare her to open up beginning with the next meeting.
- Appreciate Appreciation works wonders for kids. When your child shares a chocolate with his friend or lends him a hand to do anything, definitely – appreciate it. Use words like, “It’s great to know that you shared your sweet with him”, or ” I am so happy you helped Kim with her bags”.
- Buy toys that are easy to share Instead of buying a single racing car or a single Barbie Doll, buy toys that are more in number and are more convenient to share, thus promoting sharing in kids. Toys like building blocks, tea set, crayons, jigsaw puzzles and the like are good for this.
- Help her vent out Call her friends home and ask them to do whatever they like! And by this I mean – Whatever! They! Like! Allow them to jump on the bed, have pillow fights, shout on the top of their voices, through soft toys at each other and so on. Carrying out such activities will help your child release her frustration and this venting out session will help her much better to open up.
- Introduce him to one new person every day
This will help your child to know that her world doesn’t consist of only her family, friends, teachers and neighbors. There is much more to it. Take her to the grocery store with you, take her shopping, jogging – any place where you can find new faces and encourage her to meet them. Again, do not pressurize or expect her to be good at it – simply try and encourage.
These and many other ways can help a child become more comfortable in the presence of strangers, new faces and new kids. If dealt with patience and love, all parents can help their children become more extrovert and less shy leading them to socialize comfortably all their life.