Some children require a lot of encouragement when it is time to step out and interact with other children. Here are a few tips that will assist parents in helping a shy child make friends.
Let A Shy Child Warm Up: As babies, children interact with others by watching and imitating. This is called onlooker play. As toddlers, they engage in parallel play with other kids. In this stage, they played near other children with similar toys, but do not necessarily interact beyond sneaking peaks and imitating their friend’s games. Studies show that “onlooker” and “parallel play” are not only for babies. It seems that children who are shy or the youngest in a group will often hang back and watch until they feel comfortable.
Parallel Play is described as a bridge between onlooker and cooperative play. As a bridge, it can help kids join other children’s activities smoothly. Instead of rushing up to a group of kids playing kickball, a shy child may find a spare ball nearby and bounce it on his own while watching the group. This will give him the time he needs to check the kids out and decide whether he should ask to join. If parents understand their shy children’s need to take it slow, they will provide the support their kids need to reach out and build relationships.
Invite Play Date Guests to Make a Shy Child Comfortable: If a child is shy, parents can try hosting play dates with only one or two guests. It is more difficult for a quiet child to get overlooked in a smaller group. He will also have an easier time speaking up when there are not that many kids vying for each other’s attention. Parents can also consider their child’s favorite activities. Allowing an opportunity for their child to shine while doing something he/she is good at will make him/her more likely to open up and enjoy himself. Additionally, a favorite activity will take the pressure off a shy child and provide him with an instant ice breaker.