Why Your Child is Shy
I recently worked with a young girl “Sally” (age 14) who was shy. Her mother was concerned about her lack of social life. When I first met with Sally, she was reluctant. Sally’s prior counselor had given her homework she was not able to complete.
- “At school, go up to someone you don’t know and start a conversation.”
- “Midweek, make plans with one of your friends for the weekend.”
Sally wasn’t able to do either. And not only did she feel bad about it, she felt worse than she did before. Sally already felt bad for being shy, but now she felt the added emotion of failure as she was not able to fulfill her counselor’s recommended homework, even though the tasks seemed simple.
Sally became more self-critical of her “shyness” and more self-critical of her ability to act in order to fix it.
You see, what most don’t realize is that children “know” what they need to do to socialize. They see many kids doing it in school. That’s not the issue. The issue is that Sally really isn’t shy. She simply does not feel comfortable with herself, so she doesn’t feel comfortable socializing.
So, asking a child who feels insecure within herself to start a conversation or make plans with a friend is IMPOSSIBLE for the child.
The reason she isn’t able to fulfill this seemingly simple task is because the root issue is not being addressed: her lack of self-esteem.
Sally is not socializing because she feels unsure of who she is, compares herself to others and tends to be self-critical of herself in her own mind. So, it’s ineffective to encourage action on her part which, at this stage, is too advanced and will only set her up for feeling like she failed again.
Therefore, if you have a child similar to Sally, who is shy or maybe lacks friends, then do the only thing you can do: improve your child’s self-esteem. Because children who have an improved self-image discover how to love life and most of all, love themselves. And when that happens, their social life improves.
When you teach children to love themselves, they feel better, perform better and are more comfortable being themselves around other people. If your child isn’t shy at home, innately your child isn’t shy. It’s as simple as that. You must teach children how to feel comfortable with themselves first, and then and only then will they feel comfortable around others. Imagine that?
The end result: after completing my program, Sally found the confidence within herself. She stopped feeling bad about herself; stopped feeling as if something was wrong with her. Nothing was wrong with her, aside from her not knowing her true worthiness. And instead of begging mom to change schools to find new friends, she formed new friends and even became more involved in school activities, all because she understood that the only thing necessary was loving herself first.
Connie Henriquez is a Teen Life Coach who works with kids & teens who suffer from anxiety and common childhood insecurities. Her specialty includes teaching them how to be confident, happy, make better decisions and LOVE their LIFE in as little as 30 days (regardless of what they have experienced in their past). For more information check out Connie’s “30 Days to Happy” program here or call (516) 340-0378.