Nanny 911: Helping a Shy Child Socialize
Some children are naturally shy. And I do not believe you should pressure your to respond to people if it causes him anxiety. I took care of a 4-year-old girl who was the same way. So what I would do is help her by example. If someone she didn't know well would comment on her outfit or ask her how old she was and she didn't respond, I would chime in. I'd say things like, "Oh thank you! We were having a hard time figuring out if we should wear a dress today or not!" Then I would turn to the child and add, "Weren't we?" or "India will be having a birthday soon, right?" and again look at to her to include her in the conversation.
When it was someone she was more familiar with, I would prepare her in advance by saying things like, "We are going to see so-and-so today, and they will be talking to you and asking you questions. How are you going to feel about that?" And together, we would come up with a plan. I talked to her about manners, but also explained that I understood how she felt and we could work on it together.
Whatever you do, please don't label your son "shy" or make excuses for him by saying "Sorry, he is shy." Labels can affect a child's self-esteem. Instead, work with your son together on how he can feel more comfortable around people with whom he is not that familiar. If you help him get more comfortable, and not feel any social pressure, it will get better with time, I promise! In fact, the little girl I took care of is now almost 9 years old and although is still shy by nature, is very comfortable in most social situations!
Get more child behavior tips from the Nanny 911 Nannies!