I am writing this in support of parents with shy children, in fact, in support of those shy children, too. There is pressure in our culture to not be shy, to try to push our children to overcome shyness. I have always felt that being a parent was the hardest job I’ve ever had, also the best. One of the aspects of parenting that brings forth that word “hard” is the huge responsibility that comes with parenting. We are always feeling fully responsible for another being including his or her behavior. Shy children are shy because that is part of who they are. It may be a permanent part of their character, or it may be temporary. By the time we become parents, most of us know what in this world we are comfortable with and what we are not. We use our feelings of comfort to create the environments in which we live and later in which we raise our children. We develop a style or approach to living and parenting. Shy children are perhaps, taking a little more time finding comfort outside the protected homes you have made for them. If supported and loved, they will find a way to tackle the “new” and it will be according to their own time frame.

If your child does not reply when greeted, prefers to play alone or next to a friend rather than with a friend, try not to feel so responsible for their behavior. Patience mixed with modeling the behavior you would like for them to exhibit will help in their social development process. Repeatedly directing them in what to say or do, especially in front of others will most likely increase their feelings of shyness and discomfort.

School presents the biggest challenge for shy children. How many adults do you know, who pause before entering a room full of mostly unfamiliar people? It can be much harder for children in a situation like this and particularly difficult to establish friendships while in a group setting. Making special friends during after hours play dates works well and will ease the return to the group. Each familiar and new friend might then become a source of support for your child. A friend in the crowd warms the room.

I remember the title of a book so popular in the 70’s: “I’m O.K., You’re O.K.”. Holding that thought leaves room for acceptance of and faith in our children and in ourselves, as parents.