Photo by Robinlynnme
Genevieve Thiers, CEO of Sittercity.com, pays a visit to Toddler Buzz today with tips on how to help your shy toddler or school age child cope with the coming school year.
While many children whine about having to go back to preschool or grade school, some children completely dread the experience and are too shy to even see the fun, positive aspects for going back to school. If this sounds like your child, back-to-school can be an especially unnerving time.
So Sittercity.com has some tips to help quieter kids cope with these new school-year changes.
DITCH THE "SHY" LABEL
How many times have you or someone else said, "Oh, Joey's just shy"? It seems like a harmless aside, but labeling a child as "shy" actually makes it even harder for him to feel like he can be anything else.
To reverse this mentality, comment to other adults within your child's earshot that he warms up and is quite friendly. The next time you see him playing with someone, remark to your spouse or friend later (again, when your child is around) that Joey is getting friendlier and friendlier!
HOST A BACK-TO-SCHOOL PARTY
To help your child feel comfortable with his new classmates, offer to host a back-to-school celebration in your backyard. (If this seems like a large task, remember that you can hire a babysitter or two to help run the show.) Before everyone leaves the party, give them a contact sheet with everyone's information on it to encourage more school-year playdates.
A lot of times, a shy child simply isn't sure how to initiate a conversation. To build this skill, you can sit down with the child and brainstorm different ways he can engage others. Here are a few examples:
- Comment on what someone is doing. When Susie starts drawing, your child can say something like, "You must like art."
- Compliment someone. "I like those shoes."
- Offer to help. "Want me to help you pick up those papers?"
In addition to having your child practice these types of things, you'll want to lead by example so that your child can see how you make connections with people and feel confident doing so himself.
If conversations seem too intimidating to your child, tell him that the easiest way to make friends at school is to smile! That way, he may encourage someone to come over to him without even saying a word. If your child isn't comfortable smiling out of the blue, help him practice in a mirror and compliment his efforts with enthusiasm.
ENLIST HELP FROM SIBLINGS
If you've got older kids at the same school, enlist their "big sibling skills" to help your younger one feel more comfortable. Big Sis can give a reassuring smile or wave in the hallways to remind your shy child that he's not alone.
TALK TO THE TEACHER
Communicating with your shy child's teacher is another key way to helping your child get through the school year. Teachers are often open to helping children share their interests with other students in the class, for example, which, again, is a great way to build confidence.
How are you helping to prepare your shy child for preschool or kindergarten?