Some children find it difficult to get along with other children because they are shy or timid. Parents must be careful not to confuse the shy child with the quiet one. Children differ very much in their personalities and in the characteristics that make it easy or difficult for them to play easily with other children. Sometimes parents think of the child who is well adjusted to other people in terms of the picture, which is so often shown, of a popular child surrounded by other children, always the gay center of the group. This becomes their aim for their child. It is not necessarily a true picture of a child who can get along well with others. There are many quieter and less-outgoing children who get along very well indeed with other children, and who are liked and accepted by them. Parents are sometimes unnecessarily concerned about these quieter but still well-adjusted normal children. The quiet child is often an independent youngster who is able to meet situations and make friends in his own way. He is not afraid of people; he likes them and will often have two or three good friends whose interests are the same as his. He is just not so boisterous or conspicuously active as some other boys and girls. He should not be called a really shy child.
Nor should parents confuse the young child with the shy child. A two- or even a three-year-old may not yet be ready to meet situations that involve leaving mother or playing with other children. He may still be in the stage in which he just wants to stand and watch the other children play. When he is a bit older, he too will enter in.
The really shy child is the youngster of four or five or older who finds it hard to go out toward other people. He always draws back to the shelter of mother and father and seems disturbed and upset by new situations. Such a child will hang back from entering into play with other children at an age when he would normally be ready and eager to be with others.
If a child is shy his parents should try to look behind the shyness for the cause, which again is often found in overanxiety or insecurity. This may have been caused in various ways, some of them, perhaps, unavoidable. A child who has been ill during his early years and has not been able to play with other children is often a shy or more timid child. A child who has been moved around, or has had too many changes in the people who have taken care of him, has not had the opportunity to develop a feeling of security. Perhaps the child’s first play experiences have been with bigger or older children, or with children who were so aggressive and rough in their play that he could not hold his own, became afraid, and did not want to play with them. Competition with an older brother or sister in which the child has felt unable to keep up will often destroy his confidence and make him shy. Overtraining, with too much criticism and disapproval from his parents, can make a youngster shy and timid. So, too, can a feeling on the part of the child that he will be loved and approved by his parents only if he is good, when good means not making a noise, not running or climbing, or not getting dirty. An overprotected child, whose parents have kept him away from other children, is often a shy child. Or the child who feels inadequate because he cannot climb, throw a ball, or do stunts on the trapeze as well as the others may hold back out of embarrassment instead of joining in with the group. The shy child is almost always one who for some reason or other has come to fear other people or to doubt his ability to meet them.
Such a child cannot be helped to overcome his shyness by punishment or shaming. Talking about his shyness will only make it worse. Nor can his parents help him by suddenly forcing or pushing him into group experiences or play with other children. They must be willing to take the time to help him regain and rebuild his self-confidence. (Continue below to page 2)
Pages: 1 2