As a child, I was very shy. Painfully, excruciatingly shy. I hid a lot in my room. I was so terrified to read out loud in school that I had to have my mother ask my reading teacher not to call on me in class – Kim Basinger
Shyness is a common emotion, but little known. The literal or dictionary meaning of shyness could be anyone who behaves in an ambivalent manner in new social situations, is considered a shy being. But, on the records, shyness may adversely affect learning ability of the child. Before reaching to an ultimate conclusion about shy children, we need a thorough understanding of present types and manifestations of shyness, genetic influences, environmental and temperamental shyness, and timidity to make a distinction between the normal and problematic situations.
What is Shyness?
The feeling of shyness is universal and may have evolved as an adaptive mechanism to cope with social stimulants. Shyness is felt as a mixture of emotions, including fear and interest, tension and pleasantness. These feelings may be accompanied by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Observer recognizes shyness by downward gaze, physical and verbal reticence. Shy person’s speech is often soft, tremulous, or hesitant. According to area experts, when shy, some children suck their thumbs, some act coy, alternately smiling, and pulling away. Shyness is distinguishable from two related behavior patterns: wariness and social disengagement. Shyness can be a fearful response to new adults in childhood. The most common causes of shyness are the new social encounters, especially if the shy person feels that is the center of attention.
Some adults try to lure shy children into social interaction, thus reinforcing the shy behavior. Increasingly more evidence of a hereditary or temperamental basis for some forms of shyness is now coming into the light. In fact, heredity plays a larger part in shyness than in any other personality trait. Extremely inhibited children show physiological differences from uninhibited children, including a heart rhythm that is much stronger and stable. Between 2 and 5, the most inhibited children continue to be reluctant to other children. However, most researchers believe that genetic influences only a small part of shyness.
The area experts believe that even hereditary predispositions can be modified. Adopted children, for example, adopt social styles of adoptive parents, and extremely inhibited toddlers sometimes become more socially comfortable through their parents’ efforts. Shyness can be a normal, adaptive response to a possible overwhelming social experience. To overcome, shy children generally tend to temporarily withdraw themselves from the situation. This momentary escape give them a feeling of control of the situation. But, by the passage of time, as children gain a sense of control in meetings with people who are not familiar, shyness disappears.
In the absence of other difficulties, shy children pose no psychiatric or behavioral risk. But children who have a permanent or extreme shyness may be at a risk. At school-age shy children tend to like themselves less, consider themselves less friendly and more passive than their non-shy. Such factors negatively affect others’ perceptions. Shy children are often judged by peers as being less friendly and less likable. Because of this, shy children are often neglected by peers and are less likely to develop social skills. Children, who continue to be excessively shy into adolescence and adulthood describe themselves as being lonely, having fewer friends and fewer relationships with members of the opposite sex than their peers.
How To Help A Shy Child?
Being a parent, you must accept you baby as he is. Do not forget, shyness is only one aspect of his personality. Being sensitive to the interests and feelings of the child will be able to build a relationship with the child and show that you respect. This will make the child more confident and less inhibited. Shy children often have a negative image about themselves and they always live in a fear of rejection. You as a parent needs to reinforce your shy kid to demonstrate his skills; instead, comparing your shy kid with other non-shy kids of the vicinity, you need to praise him often.
The crux behind breaking the ice is – children who feel good about themselves are not shy. Allow your child to fly within safe boundaries. Give him access to a few opportunities where he can play with other kids. Playing with new groups will give your kid a chance of a new start and a shy child is going to love it after some time. Allow the child to make his “heat” before new situations. Forcing the child in a situation that he sees no threatening, will assist in the formation of social skills. Help your child feel safe and offers them interesting materials that can lure him in his social interactions. Remember that shyness is not entirely a bad thing because not every child needs or wants to be in the spotlight all the time.