Some children are shy, and some children aren’t. Being shy isn’t usually a problem. Being a little shy can simply be part of your child’s personality. However, if your child exhibits any of the following signs, it may mean that their shyness is part of a bigger problem that requires help.
5 Signs your shy child needs help
1. They lack confidence in any social situation
If your child is shy, they may experience some anxiety in certain social situations. Sometimes it would be reasonable to expect a level of apprehension in social settings. For example, if they have to do a presentation in class or perform a solo musical recital. Such situations might well create stress and anxiety for anyone who is shy. However, if they struggle in any social situation, such as being with a small group of their peers, it could be a warning sign. Your child can be shy but should still have a few friends with whom he or she can be comfortable and relaxed.
2. The get frozen by fear
Let’s go back to the above example about needing to present something in front of others. Of course, many of us — adults and children — are going to experience some low-level anxiety when making a presentation. But what happens when your child is frozen by fear? When asked to speak, your child may have racing thoughts, an elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, break out in a sweat, etc. On the other hand, they may experience fear long before the presentation is due, perhaps even obsessing about it for weeks.
3. They feel alone much of the time
A shy child can prefer to be alone but, at the same time, feel lonely. If your child has said that they are lonely all the time and you notice they’re disconnected from other children, it could be more than shyness. Check to see if your child also appears to be sad all the time and expresses negative thinking. These could be signs of a much deeper problem, such as depression.
4. They don’t pick up on social cues
It’s possible to be shy and still be able to be a part of social situations. A young child that is shy may want to hide behind their parent’s legs or not want to talk to an adult. But if your son or daughter is older and seems to struggle with social situations, take note and look for these signs:
- Avoiding making eye contact
- An inability to understand other people’s emotions
- Misinterpreting or not understanding nonverbal communication
- Having a dislike of being touched or experiencing physical contact with others
5. They stay in their room all the time
Some many children and teens prefer to stay in their room when they are home. However, if your child refuses to leave the house at all, especially to go to school, this might be a warning sign that something is wrong. For some children, school can be an overwhelming social situation that can cause high levels of anxiety. As a result, they would prefer to be at home where there is less stimulation, and it feels safer.
What can I do to help my shy child?
If you are worried that your child’s shyness might be something more, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Your child could be strugglingwith a range of problems: social anxiety, low self-esteem or depression, for example. A counsellor can work with your child to help develop their social skills so they can better understand how to handle social situations.
If underlying issues are causing the problem, your child’s counsellor will work with him or her to work through those issues. Remember, it is perfectly fine for a child to be shy. Problems happen when that shyness interferes with their being able to have a happy and fulfilling life.