Break The Mold! (Or Bend It)

Making a shy kid more communicative

As a mom of four, I have had multiple personalities to cultivate and raise.  Each child had his own quirks and traits that made parenting fun, hard, unique and challenging.  So parents, guardians… what do you do with that child that hides behind your leg?  Who looks at the floor when spoken to?  Whose fear is palpable when someone catches him off guard and speaks to him?  One of my twins was so shy, human contact could actually elicit tears!!  Sound familiar?  No worries. Here are some tips for breaking that mold and getting your child to communicate better.

Don’t Push! Dr. Sears, a certified health coach, warns of the dangers of pushing too hard.  Pushing too hard can cause an introverted child to recoil more from social situations, because they feel put on the spot.  Most shy personalities are born that way, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Shy kids tend to be more kind and empathetic kids with big hearts.  So, treat your child as the blessing that they are! Praise them in their emotions.  It’s good to encourage healthy communication, but don’t make them feel forced.

In conversation once with a social worker, she told me how from age five, her kids had to speak to three people in church every Sunday.  She explained on the first three weeks, her shyest wept.  That same child, now 13, knows the name of every lunch room worker, teacher, teacher’s kids, as well as everyone at church, and willingly engages in conversation with adults.  Positive reinforcement for their efforts went a long way!

Parent’s magazine Allison Hersh, Ph.D.  Suggests practicing at home and explaining what to expect, and replacing pessimism with positivity.  What are the positive aspects of conversation? Making friends and learning vs. rejection.  Knowing what to expect in a conversation can reduce anxiety.  Recognition of a job well done, “you played so well with her,” or “I’m so proud of you for talking to Mrs. Smith today!” can be the positive reinforcement that kids need to help come out of their shell.

Workingmother.com suggests modeling self-love and positive self-talk.  When you get a promotion, or accolades at work, win a prize, celebrate with your child.  Teach your child to love themselves and to be proud of who they are.  Self-confidence is a huge factor in successful communication.

Workingmom.com also preaches teaching resilience.  There will be rejection, there will be disappointments.  Teaching your child to not give up is important, and so is validating their feelings.  Children that feel that their feelings are validated are more comfortable sharing their feelings and opinions.  Don’t pity, but empathize, and then teach them to move on.  Disappointments are a part of life, but not a reason to quit!

Any other helpful hints?  Please share!