Location: Bradley Hospital

Supporting a Shy Child

Many parents become concerned when their child is shy in social situations. This behavior is rarely abnormal and there are tips to help your child become more comfortable around others.

Do Not Be Overly Concerned

In children, shyness is rarely a cause for serious concern. Ronald Seifer, PhD, a specialist in early childhood development at Bradley Hospital, explains, "shyness is often a normal developmental stage in children. There is no particular age at which this is normal or abnormal." Your child may suddenly go through a period of shyness and grow out of it just as quickly. If they do not, don't be too concerned.

Be Supportive


  • Do not label your child as "shy." Labeling often leads to the fulfillment of that label.

  • If shyness does prove to be a character trait, do not force your child to be an extrovert.

  • Do not criticize your child or make them believe there is something wrong with them.

  • Accept that a shy temperament is part of your child.

  • Praise their positive qualities, like their consideration of others or their listening skills.

  • Instead of pushing your child to change, do your best to make your child feel more comfortable in social situations.

Create Non-Threatening Social Situations

To help shy children become more social, Seifer stresses the importance of creating a social context where they do not feel threatened. Remember that every child is different.

Your child's shyness may stem from:

  • Anxiety about large groups

  • Fear of new situations

  • Worry about peer rejection

  • A preference for adult-supervised environment.

Before you can create a non-threatening environment for your child, you need to pinpoint the particular anxiety your child has. If your child fears large groups, create a social situation with only one other child. Placing your child in a situation they feel comfortable in will help them build socialization skills.

Keep an Eye Out

Seifer cautions that sometimes shyness masks a deeper problem. If your child's shyness seems to be a considerable problem and a barrier to their happiness, you may want to seek the help of a professional. Your child's problem may not be shyness, but depression or anxiety disorder. Shyness is not often a cause for concern, but use your best judgment as a parent.

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