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Overcoming Shyness on the Playground

Shyness can plague a youngster and make it difficult to interact with other children in play situations. Even on the playground, a timid child may not feel comfortable interacting with peers or approaching other children to make friends. You can help your child overcome shyness to have fun with others on the playground.

What is Shyness?

A shy child feels anxious and inhibited when presented with social situations. Shyness causes feelings of unease, often around strangers. Children may exhibit shyness in new or stressful situations, such as a new classroom or play situation. A shy child may feel uncomfortable speaking with others, embarrassed with public attention and may avoid participating in games and activities. Shyness can be mild or it can be so problematic that it creates unhappiness because the youngster can't make friends or participate in activities.

Encouraging a Shy Child: Tips for Parents and Teachers

If your child's shyness is leading to exclusion on the playground, offer assistance to help your youngster develop social skills and feel more comfortable with peers. It's common for children to exclude shy children from play simply because of the shy child's social awkwardness.

Examine your own social awareness to ensure that you don't project any of your own insecurities to your child. If you over-identify with your child's anxiety or social discomfort, you may inadvertently encourage more shyness instead of helping your child overcome shyness.

Set a positive example of an open and receptive attitude toward others so your child can see and follow your example. Stay near your child on the playground to observe interactions between them and other children. Smile at other children and parents around you on the playground so your child can see you acting confident and relaxed. If other children approach your child to play, wait to see how your child responds. Introduce your child to other children to create a possible opportunity for your child to play with peers at the playground. If your child's shyness prevents them from interacting positively, step forward and encourage your child to engage with peers in a friendly and relaxed manner. You might even strike up a conversation with other children yourself to show your child how enjoyable it can be to interact with others in a social situation. After watching your conversation, your child may even join in, too. It may help to teach your child an "icebreaker line" to use when meeting other kids at the playground. Try simple questions such as "What's your name?" or "Would you like to play?"

Play Ideas and Activities for Shy Children

Whenever possible, prepare your child for playtime at the playground by describing the planned activities and the people who will be at the playground. Shy children often feel more comfortable if they know what to expect in a situation. Brainstorm what your child might say to other kids he or she meets on the playground.

Help your child overcome shyness on the playground by role playing common situations. For example, if your child tends to stand around and watch other children play instead of joining in the fun, use stuffed animals to act out the situation. Make a teddy bear stand on the sidelines while other stuffed animals play and ask your child how the one toy may be feeling. When your child tells you that the teddy bear feels sad or lonely, talk about what the teddy bear could do to feel happier. If your child can't think of a solution, suggest that the teddy bear could approach one other playmate to introduce themselves or ask to play a game.

It might help your child interact with others if you take an engaging toy to the playground because this might attract other children. A remote control car zipping around the playground could bring children flocking around your child to watch the action. With peers eager to interact with your youngster, they might feel confident and comfortable having these conversations.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart