How to Help Your Shy Toddler
People always said that a home schooling child will become a social misfit.
I am grateful to God because I had proved they were ultimate WRONG.
What is the biggest misconception person having about those who learn at home?
A myth that our kids will not be socialized. If they mean the cruel, competitive kind of socialization that we often see in public school, they are right (thank goodness). If they mean they will not be around other people and kids, they clearly know nothing about how homeschoolers really live
– Tamra Orr, Home School Expertise, USA
Children do not need to be socialized in a large group of same-age children to become well adjusted socially.Quite the opposite.
Most parents want their children to learn their social graces from adults, not other children.
Homeschoolers have healthy relationships with people of all ages, including the new mother next door, the retired couple who loves to garden, their friends at ballet, Karate and, most important, their parents.
Children love to learn. It is as natural to them as breathing.
They have an inborn hunger to explore the world and examine what is interesting.
They learn by following their interests, with one interest leading to another. This is the way we all learned as younger children and how as adults we learn after we leave school.
Homeschooling families learn together and know that learning is a life-long process.
The concern that homeschooled children may be unsocial has proved to be a myth.
A homeschooled child is free to explore the richness and diversity of life outside institutional walls.
In lieu of same-age grouping found in schools, the homeschooled child may interact with people of all ages and kinds in the extended family, the community, the working world, and beyond.
There are also homeschool support groups, with field trips, mini-classes, parties, plays, and community service.
Since KiruaMi-cHan was born, he tend to be more closed to me than other baby did with their mum due to I had breasfeeding him exclusively for 2 years and 6 months.
I love him to be such a cuddly baby forever with me but it is my duty to teach him to know whom he could trust and with whom he could be friend.
I did not want my child to follow any strangers that they met.
Nevertheless, it does not mean that I want to overprotected him, it is because of the security of my baby is my main precedence.
When KiruaMi-cHan was 2 months old, I took my first step to read him a book about “How to Deal with Strangers When You Are Alone“.
I made him clear that he supposed to be aware of strangers and the consequence if he does not.
My hubby and I brought him to the playground since he was a little baby and introduced him to outside world.He managed to play the swings at the park confidently when he was 6 months old.
While others were just love tittle-tattle around, I took my private time with him; singing, tell stories, sharing facts while we were at the playing field.
Of course, he will feel insecure with strangers, but I did not want to label him as *shy*.
I preferred he took his time to know others as a security reason.
Whenever he with me, he will asked me whether “that person” is safe for us to shake hand or give a hug, he will followed.
The important thing here is; do not push your toddler but lead them. At the age of 2, I took him to the mosque every Friday night to read Yassin.
I made sure I described to him about the mosque, the people whom we were going to meet, the activities, and etc before we go.I packed for him his drawing book, pencil, small story book, healthy snack, his favorite drinks plus one of his favorite Hotwheel car to ensure he feel just “at home“.
At first, he felt a bit weird when he saw too many people gathered and read Yassin together.
But then, he seemed to be happy, watching me carefully muttered words in Arabic language and surprisingly he even joined me while I am praying with the group.
Every Friday noon, my hubby brings him to “Friday Prayer” and let him feels the difference.
Alhamdulillah, until now, he is the one whom truly excited when it comes to Friday!
He so proud to wear his Baju Melayu and love to listen to the Khutbah eventhough the Khutbah is 100% in Malay language (it’s my hubby duty to translate for him).
My hubby and I took him to KLCC playground due to he could easily get along with his foreign friend.
It is such a pleased moment watching him using his English mix with a bit of Spanish, French, Japanese, Hebrew, Bahasa Melayu and Arabic words while playing with them.
Most of the kids were using more than 4 languages at home. He first reacted when met and chat with a Scotland toddler girl is “Mama, I found my friend“.
For me, he just love to play around with new language.
I trained him to be thankful to Allah and be proud to whatever he be while at the same time don’t forget about poor people.
I’ve got one experienced while I saw another big kids at my grandma’s house teased him that he is “anak Mat Salleh“, then I’m so glad he just ignored the pathetic attitude and said “You should be shame of yourself“.
3 days later, he proof himself he could speaks very well in Malay languages even my hubby and I never teach him just by listening to my grandma’s talking.
Other routines that we do to keep my toddler and my babies to real life were:
- visiting to library (once a week)
- visiting and helping orphanage (twice a month)
- field trip – Aquaria, Science Centre, Museum, Art Gallery, Planetarium and etc (twice a month)
- Martial Art lesson – [Boxing, Tae Kwan Do, Silat, Wrestling; by my hubby] [Karate Do; by me] (once a week)
- Our daily life based on: art class, baking class, reading class, Islamic class, Lab time, computer learning, swimming class, mechanical lab, free-dancing and singing class that has been our daily routine.
We do anything that make our kids happy. It doest need a special place, it just need a room and a loving heart with; curios, playful and healthy kids. Other tips from Dr Michele Borba and Dr. Lawrence Balter that I adopted in teaching my baby and toddler are:
- Avoid labeling
Instead of saying, “My child is shy,” try explaining that “KiruaMi-cHan just got here. It takes him a few minutes to warm up.” If called my child shy, he may internalize the label and make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. What’s more, my child may use it as an excuse for not doing something (“I didn’t thank grandma for the present because I’m shy“).
- Use your own experience as a guide
If I were shy as a child, I think about how I came to feel more comfortable. Did it help me to make one good friend, to join a sports team, to get outside myself and volunteer with my parents at a soup kitchen or nursing home?
I do recalling my own feelings which allowed me to empathize with my child and devise a plan of action.It helps when I talk to my child about times when I were nervous as a kid (“I would get butterflies before I walked into a party too“). If he knows that others share his feelings, he might feel less sensitive in her social interactions.
- Be patient
You can’t teach a child to socialize by pushing him into a kid-filled room and then walking away. That would be like trying to teach him to swim by tossing him in the pool.Instead, ease him into social settings.
Before you go to a party, talk to him about who might be there and what games might be played. Then, at the party, stay with your child for as long as he needs you.
If he feels really uncomfortable, you might want to stay for just a short while.However, you should also point out to your kid that the birthday child would appreciate his effort to join in, and that not staying could hurt her feelings.
As for me, when I had to visit my uncle at the hospital, firstly I told my toddler and my baby what is the hospital, where is it, what kind of people works there, what kind of person that we meet, what should we do while we there.They a bit scared when the first time saw too many sick people in that room, I calmed them by saying, “Poor those uncle, they are so sick and unwell. You could help them by giving them your best smile which will make them feel very happy and get well soon“Both of them followed my words and they were extremely happy when all the patient smiles back at them. “There, you see you had made such a great work today! Good job KiruaMi-cHan and ReiHi-cHan. Let’s we pray for their health“, as I replied to them with smiled. I am so glad, they were keep quiet, well-behave and watching the patient with sympathy.
- Find ways for your child to be a leader
You might have your son “help” with a younger sibling in your (or another) family.Ask him to show the younger child how to do something (“Why don’t you show Michael how to build the blocks into a big tower“).
Shy children are often full of self-doubt and being admired by a younger child may build self-confidence.
- Reward outgoing behavior
When you catch your kid being friendly, make a big deal of it (“That was brave the way you said ‘hi’ to the bus driver!“).
Children are more to repeat actions that have had happy outcomes.
- Play to your child’s strengths
Give your youngster opportunities to shine. If your daughter has a flair for art, enroll her in an art class with her age-mates.
This will boost her confidence while expanding her social contacts.
- Practice social skills
Other children respond to kids who are friendly-those who smile, look people in the eye, start conversations, and listen to others. But kids who are shy haven’t had much practice in these skills.
You can help by practicing friendly behavior together with your child (“Let’s say Zidane asks you to play with him. I’ll be Justin: ‘Hi! Want to play with my race cars?‘ What’s a good thing for you to say back? Now you pretend to be Justin and I’ll pretend to be you”).
Do this several times, making sure to correct and prompt your child as well as praise him.Eventually, as your child becomes more outgoing, other children will take him into the fold. This, in turn, will boost his social confidence and counter his tendency to withdraw.
- Give your child some space
Children need to learn to live with the occasional slings and arrows of others. They need to see that they do not fall apart as a result of a rebuke. If you are too quick to “fix” every frustration, you might be thwarting your child’s ability to develop social skills.
When you see your child struggling to join a group of kids, stifle your urge to butt in-count to ten-and let her use the skills you’ve been practicing with her. She may surprise you!
- Model eye contact
One of the most common traits of well-liked kids use is that they use eye contact. In fact the average person spends 30 to 60 percent of the time looking at the other person’s face.
As you’re talking with your child say: “Look at me.” or “Put your eyes on my eyes.” or “I want to see your eyes.” If your kid is uncomfortable about using eye contact, tell her: “Look at the bridge of my nose.”
- Praise prior success
It’s natural for a shy child to focus on past failures. So help her recall previous experiences when things went really well. “Remember last year’s swimming lessons? You begged not to go, but did and met a new friend.”
- Reinforce smiling!
One of the most common characteristics of confident, well-liked kids is that they smile and smile. So whenever your child displays a smile, reinforce it: “What a great smile!” or “That smile of yours always wins people over.”
Also, point out how your child’s smile effects others: “Do see how kids smile back when you smile?” “That little boy saw your smile and came over to play. Your smile let him know you were friendly.”
- Debrief a stressful event
If your kid has had a really embarrassing attack of shyness find a time to discuss what happened and she could handle it better next time. “It sounds like you really didn’t like being with so many kids. What if you only invite one friend at a time?” “So what really bugged you was asking Kevin face to face. Why not ask him on the phone next time?”
- Reinforce any social efforts
Any and every effort your child makes to be even a tad more social deserves a pat on the back: “I saw how you walked up to that new boy today. Good for you!” “I noticed that you really made an effort to say hello to Sheila’s mom. She looked so pleased!”
- Schedule warm up time
Some kids take longer to warm up in a social setting, so give your child time to settle in. Be patient and don’t push too quickly. Let her watch a bit, figure out what’s up, and set her own time frame to join in.
Help him fit in. All kids need to feel as comfortable as possible when they’re with their friends. So make sure your son or daughter has a cool hair cut, the “in” pair of sneakers, backpack, jacket, or pair of jeans. It can make a big difference in boosting a kid’s comfort level.
- Rehearse social situations
Prepare your kid for an upcoming social event by describing the setting, expectations, and other kids who will be there. Then help him practice how to meet others, table manners, making small talk, and even how to say good-bye.
Doing so will decrease some of the anxiety he’s bound to have from being in a new setting.Hint: A shyer child often feels less threatened practicing social skill with a younger, more immature kids than children his own age.
- Create One-To-One Time
Many kids can be overwhelmed in groups, so limit the number of friends to one at a time. Then gradually increase the number as she gains confidence
“It’s important to remember that being shy is not necessarily a self-defeating personality trait. Many successful people, including political leaders, performers, scientists, and artists, have said that they were shy as kids, yet attained success and happiness as adults”- Dr. Lawrence Balter
“If your child is shy, chances are he was born with a more introverted, sensitive personality. So this is not about trying to turn him into an extrovert. After all, you can’t change your child’s personality and natural temperament. But you can help your child learn the skills he needs (and deserves) to feel more comfortable and confident with your kids. And that is doable because of this fact: shyness doesn’t have to be debilitating. So let’s focus on what you can do to enhance your kid’s abilities to find, make, and keep friends. Here are nine ways to help a shyer child fit in and feel more comfortable in social situations”- Dr Michele Borba
Remember: Your role is not to try and change your child’s basic temperament and personality but instead to help him warm up, open up, and join the fun having friends can bring. Simple, little changes can reap big results.Best of luck mommies! Amin 😉