an image of a child laughing

Shyness happens to all of us, especially to young children who are stepping foot into a nursery for the first time. With shyness, this tends to fade away once the initial awkwardness sets to one side. But for some children, shyness seems to stick with them. And many remain quite shy throughout the rest of their lives.

What is Shyness?

According to Psychology Today

"Shyness is the awkwardness or apprehension some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Unlike introverts, who feel energised by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don't know how or can't tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction."

Shyness is more common than you think. Studies have shown that as many as 38% of children have reported of shyness. Whereas in adults, 40% considered themselves shy.  

Thankfully, as child carers, there are a number of methods you can use to help children overcome their shyness. And we share 6 tips in this post:

1. Never Label Them As Shy

If you label a child as shy in front of everyone, chances are they will internalise it. Instead, say “reserved”, "polite" or “quiet” or even “thoughtful”. Shy children are very conscientious of their environment, so these words will be more appropriate and as a result, they will feel more positive about themselves.

2. Go Up to Them If They're On Their Own

Shy children usually sit or stand to one side and observe other children playing and enjoying their activities. They partially feel that they should join in on the fun but they feel uncomfortable in doing so. 

Make the effort in going up to the shy child and ask if they're okay. Sometimes, allowing the child to express themselves in their own terms will make them feel so much better. Ensure you get the child to open up in private away from the other children, that way the child will feel at ease.

3. Introduce Them to Other Children

Sometimes to help a child break free from shyness is to help them make new friends. Your nursery will have a lot of children, and by simply taking the time to introduce them to one another will help improve their confidence.

4. Never Put Them on The Spot

If you're telling a story or running any other form of group activity, then it is crucial that you're mindful when you want to encourage the shy child to participate in the activity. Doing so without notice would make the child feel extremely uncomfortable.

Before the activity, just have a quick word with the child and let them know you want him or her to participate in the group because  you believe they will be really good at it. Provide some insight into the activity so the child knows what to expect. For example, if you're reading a story, tell the child about the story beforehand in private. This way, the child gains your trust and will be more than willing to participate.

5. Give Them Reassurance

Showing empathy to a child is a brilliant way to give a shy child reassurance that they can overcome their shyness. Sharing a story of your experience of dealing with shyness, will give plenty of encouragement to the child.

6. Use Scripts

Besides helping them make friends, you can give shy children a routine script that they can memorise to help them introduce themselves to different children. Most of our conversations have become routine, so by giving a child a basic script that they can refer to can help them break the ice in unfamiliar social situations.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on this topic? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Interested in a Career in Childcare?

If you are interested in a career in childcare, then The Learning Station can help. We're a London-based training provider that delivers accredited childcare qualifications through online distance learning. Our courses are flexible so that you can learn at your own pace and in your own time. For more information, please do get in touch by visiting our contact us page or calling directly on 020 8342 7210.