“Send him to my home and I will change him like my daughter”
“Your son is absolutely not you!!!!”
“Hey, if he continues to be this, he will get bullied”
“He is not brave enough to come up and talk”
And many more were the remarks that are registered in my mind about my son at many social gatherings.
All throughout my schooling, college I had never feared the stage nor the mike. It just came naturally to me and I presumed that my son would invariably be like me.
But on the contrary, I have a shy son. As a toddler, he was paranoid of a group meeting, he exhibited extreme shyness in a group and was always unwilling to talk to strangers and the shyness grew along with his age. I, like any other parent, compelled him to go public, talk loud, make more friends etc etc. Every time I tried enforcing my thoughts onto him, I found him cranky, upset and sluggish.
It took some time for me to understand the dynamics of a shy kid.
Socially, we are conditioned to believe that loud and clear human beings are leaders. Our minds are in complete acceptance to the fact that extroverts are better performers and they enjoy social life while introverts are not aware of the same joy in life. Shy people are treated as less eligible beings in a group while extroverts enjoy the leader status.
As a mother of a shy kid, I am making my attempt to help him overcome this trait.
With this blog post, I am bringing up some of facts on how to raise a shy kid purely based out of my experiences as a mother:
- It is okay to be shy: Firstly, you need to embrace the fact that it is okay if your kid is shy. Many a time, I face situations where family members, close friends remark about my son’s shy behavior and I learnt to give a deaf ear to the same. Not all kids can be the show stoppers at a birthday party, some find solace in playing with their own group of 2-3 close friends and as a parent you need to be okay with it. Do not compel your kid to participate in the group he/she is not comfortable with. We need to be aware of the amount of anxiety the poor kids go through to make themselves comfortable in the group.
- Shyness is biological: As I started reading more about the root causes of this behavior, I came across many facts which substantiated that shyness is biological. Yes, it is biological and that means it’s all about the brain and it’s wires. It’s an innate nature of your kid and you need to give it time and situations to overcome the same. I notice that the kids who are shy are generally great self critics and judge themselves before they express themselves in public. So, we need to give enough room for the kids to understand the fact that it is normal to express themselves in public and they need not be self critical about it.
- Slow introduction: Whenever there was a social gathering, be it a birthday party with classmates or a family lunch with close relatives, my son took ample time to get adjusted to the environment and be himself. It is always a good thought to prep him/her a day or two earlier and talk about the event. Initially, during his first to fifth year, my son immensely shied away from a group of people and panicked to be part of the group. Though he wanted to be a part of the group, he restrained himself and preferred to be with mommy than in the group. But, slowly I notice that he is able to outgrow the behavior and trying to make himself comfortable in public. We need to make attempts to introduce new friends / new environments at a slow pace and do not rush them into anxious situations.
- Help him get away with it: In most of my school meetings, I consistently had a conversation with his class teacher only about his social skills. Academically, I was happy with his performance but I was always despondent about his social behavior. I was curious to know if he answered in public, if he was able to talk in-front of a group. Steadily, I acknowledged the fact that for certain kids it is a slow progression to get away with shyness. I plan to get him enrolled in skills like theater workshop, dance class, story telling to help him express himself without fear of judgement. We need to create environments that help them get away with shyness and slowly out grow it.
- Stand up for themselves: There were many instances, when my son faced uncomfortable situations with his friends but he did not express himself. I assume it is due to fear of being confrontational . He feared to express his disagreement though the environment is not to his liking. I preach on a regular basis that he needs to stand up for himself, express his discomfort. This is a slow progression for shy kids as they tend to be fearing judgement. Give a good listening ear to your kids and insist the need of being assertive. It might take two to three situations for them to realize the need to express themselves. Do not involve and advocate for them, teach them to self express their needs.
Over the past few years, I could see a considerable change in the behavior of my son and expect him to outgrow his shyness in an year or two. For whatever reasons, being shy is an innate nature of the kid and either they will outgrow it or learn to live with it. Let’s give them a non-comparative, neutral, healthy environment to grow up and let’s raise responsible citizens.