Q: How can I encourage my bashful pre-schooler to open up and break out of her shell? She’s soft-spoken, reserved, and afraid of walking into a room full of people. Is there something we can do to make it easier for her to interact with others?
A: Every individual is different, and there are some situations in which a child’s bashful behaviour may turn into a cause for serious concern. But most of the time it’s simply a question of temperament. In such cases, there’s no need to think of it or treat it as an insurmountable problem. Some children are just born with a predisposition to be less outgoing than others.
Raising bashful boys and girls is a delicate art that requires discernment, sensitivity, and balance. If you have a more assertive, confident personality than your daughter, it may be particularly difficult for you to understand her. In that case, your first assignment is to get inside her head and try to see the world through her eyes.
One of the best ways to help a shy child is to show her that you love her unconditionally. Let her know that she doesn’t have to perform in certain ways to be accepted by you. At those moments when she seems paralysed by her bashfulness, respond with encouragement – a disapproving comment or look will only make her feel even more self-conscious.
At the same time, resist the temptation to make life easier for her by shielding her from new people or situations. Coddling and reinforcing self-defeating behaviour will only create additional problems in the future. If you feel like you need more guidance in this matter, you can start by calling our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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