Is your little one a little reserved in front of other kids? These tips will help her open up and interact!
Stop the comparison!
It's never a good idea to compare your child to others, whether it's a more outgoing friend/relative or an overachieving sibling. Instead, focus on what makes your child different and let her know how special that part of her personality is. That alone will help boost her confidence and make her more comfortable in front of others! So if your child isn't particularly athletic but loves to draw, sign her up for an art class where she can be around other kids with the same interest.
Be aware of what you say
Talk about shyness as how your child feels, not who she is. For example, if your daughter is hiding behind your leg and refusing to say hi to everyone at a gathering, you might be tempted to say something like, "Sorry, she's shy." Instead, tell your daughter, "You feel shy right now. That's OK -- you can say hello when you're ready." "It's a subtle difference but saying 'You feel' is much better than saying 'You are’.
Be an example
Be an example of friendliness in front of your child. For example, at playdates, you can engage her friends in small talk ("I love your new doll, Emily. What's her name?"). Kids love to mimic their parents' behaviour, so seeing you at ease with others will show her there's nothing to fear.
Tell her what to expect
Before you expose him to certain situations, explain in detail what you are going to do and what he is going to do. For example, before going to a birthday party, you should tell him who's going to be there, what will be going on ("We're going to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Shane and eat some cake!"), what toys he might get to play with, etc. If it helps, have him bring something from home -- his favourite toy, for instance -- that will make him feel more secure when he gets there.
Keep the group small
Even a child who is usually outgoing can feel overwhelmed around larger groups of children, so for a toddler on the quiet side, a room full of screaming kids can be torture. At this stage, it's best to limit your child's playdates to only a few friends. Then, as your child starts to feel more comfortable around other tots, you can begin introducing her to other kids or sign her up for classes where there will be more children around.
Don’t give them pressure
Research shows that kids whose parents push them too far, too quickly, end up withdrawing even more. Because shy children feel uncertainty and anxiety in certain social situations, when parents force them to participate, it just makes them more anxious, making it less likely they'll be willing to give it a try the next time. If your child is insisting that he doesn't want to do something that feels terrifying to him, let him know you're there to make him feel safe, but don't force it.
But don’t shelter them!
It's important that you give your child opportunities to succeed in new situations. Help your little one take gentle steps in the direction of achievement and accomplishment. Freely use the phrase, 'I'll do it with you,' and say things like, 'I know it's hard (or you're uncomfortable), but I'll be with you. Let's just give it a try.' A gentle nudge might include saying, 'Let's just go take a look.'.
Give compliments when its due
Even if it's a small step -- saying hi to the cashier -- be sure to let your child know how proud you are of his progress. Every chance you have, and especially when your kid is next to you, comment on his newly acquired skills.
Show her love!
Parents need to make building a secure and loving attachment to their child a priority, which will in turn help their child develop self-esteem and confidence. Knowing that you're around to watch over her and lend a hand when needed will help your child feel comfortable being around others. So no matter what, be sure to shower your toddler with lots of hugs and kisses!
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