Shyness can be hard to overcome for children. Being able to make new friends, communicate with new teachers and talk to new neighbors is an essential life skill, not just for military children.
Shyness can be part of a child’s personality, or it could be a result of something situational. Regardless of reason, shyness is simply an emotional reaction to being around people who you do not know or are not used to yet. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to cope.
When my daughter was learning to swim, there was a pivotal point in her swim lessons: the instructor gently encouraged my child off the diving board, when she was reluctant to go on her own. That was a hard decision to make as a parent, but I am glad I did. For Emma it opened a whole new world she was once afraid of. After that, she willingly and joyfully jumped off the board.
You know your child. You know what will be good for them to face and what will be detrimental. Dealing with shyness is the same.
You need to know your child and what they need. Push a little, but don’t lose control. Know what steps are the right ones to take, but just like in walking, it’s vital that the steps are always going forward. Each bit of progress is a small moment of victory.
Here are some engaging but practical ideas on how to help your child deal with their shyness:
Of course shyness that goes to the extreme of serious social anxiety may need other intervention. As a parent of a shy military child, you will know if and when your child’s behavior has gone from being shy to being anxious to the point of not socializing. If you have any concerns that your child may be suffering from anxiety please talk to your pediatrician about it by scheduling a special appointment to address anxious behaviors.
Shyness may stay with your child throughout the course of his or her lifetime. Most people have a hard time believing that I am shy, but I am. The difference is I have learned that my adrenaline goes up when I have to interact with strangers. It’s nothing more to me now than a simply characteristic trait I have and I have learned to adapt. Your military child will learn in time too how to adapt and overcome with time, support and opportunities.
Photo courtesy Ernst Vinke