Shyness refers to feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, and apprehension, especially when a person meets new people or travels to unfamiliar places. It displays an individual’s low self-confidence characteristics with increased fear of what others think about them. Children can develop shyness from an early age based on various factors that include their upbringing or social experiences. As a result, shyness can affect a child’s well-being as they grow up, impacting their ability to interact with others positively. Therefore, while shyness may become evident in children at an early age with significant effects, initiating intervention measures can help them overcome it, thus growing up into self-confident and sociable adults.
Causes of Shyness
As children grow up, they perceive their environment and react to situations according to a variety of factors. They typically have a resistance to meet new faces at an early age hence only comfortable in the presence of their parents or close relatives (Kalutskaya et al. 149). Such fear of the unknown can inhibit their ability to interact with new people if parents fail to initiate such interactions. As primary caregivers, being shy further imprints on their children who may take on such behavior hence developing these characteristics. Therefore, the home environment plays a crucial role in determining the level of shyness in children while also affecting the outcomes in future interactions.
Furthermore, as they grow up, the ideas of self-consciousness and embarrassment begin to develop once they stand to understand themselves communally. The perceptions of others start to affect their behavior, increasing their fear of judgment, especially when interacting with their peers (Coplan and Rudasill 47). In most cases, while children may show eagerness to join in social activities, underlying fears suppress their motivation, thus pushing them further away. With constant fears, children’s ability to develop social skills diminishes as they grow. Thus, the concept of being a loner begins to develop, with such young people preferring their own company than experiencing unexpected perceptions from others.
Additionally, a child’s temperament also increases the chances of them developing shyness from birth. Traits such as sensitivity, adaptability, attention, mood, and approachability become evident at early infancy; thus, those portraying them are more inclined to become shy (Poole and Schmidt 646). Such temperaments come naturally; hence, external environments do not necessarily impact their growth. Children with such tendencies develop by clinging to their traits based on the environments they develop. In such cases, the development of shyness resonates with the child’s genetic composition based on traits inherited from their parents.
Effects of Shyness on Children
Shyness can increase social anxiety in children with heightened self-awareness when interacting in the public sphere. This mainly refers to their perceptions of being unattractive and having poor communication skills (Coplan and Rudasill 37). Once they internalize these issues, they become less active in public settings and prefer to be by themselves. Furthermore, their peers can continually exclude them due to their perceived unfriendly nature when undertaking everyday activities such as playing. This creates gaps in the relationships that grow larger with time, pushing such children further away from each other. The continued isolation from others has a detrimental effect on their mental health; thus, without intervention, it can grow into a full-blown disaster.
Apart from that, shyness can also impact children’s ability to participate in education, leading to poor performance. Since they lack the self-confidence to actively involve themselves in-class activities, they can lag despite having the capacity to achieve high results. Lower academic engagement, such as increased response times, performance anxiety, and poor language use, can lead to declining performance (Kalutskaya et al. 150). As a result, their activity levels also reduce since they opt to watch rather than actively participate in classroom projects. Consequently, this behavior ultimately leads to reduced attention and a lack of interest in school activities as a whole.
Interventions to Help Children Overcome Shyness
At home, parents can create an environment where children can freely express themselves. By talking about their fears, anxiety, and thoughts, parents can understand their behavior, thus offer assistance as required. This can be done by asking open-ended questions that allow the child to provide detailed answers (Thornton 409). Therefore, the home environment can create a feeling of self-confidence by supporting children’s trials to speak out and express themselves without judgment. Parents can use such opportunities to reiterate the importance of communication not only at home but also in other contexts. Therefore, by speaking without fear, children also develop communication skills that complement their behavior and improve their social skills.
Apart from that, avoiding the urge to rescue the child from uncomfortable solutions ensures that they can speak for themselves in different scenarios. Interventions in awkward positions that require their verbal input can create a sense of dependency hence causing them to avoid such situations (Gunther et al. 119). While children depend on their parents to talk on their behalf in certain uncomfortable situations, putting them in the limelight may force a response that the parents can build up on to encourage conversations. However, by allowing the child to face such situations, they can start to learn to think and talk independently without requiring support from a familiar face.
Apart from that, in a school environment, teachers should pair shy students with more outgoing ones to help trigger interactions. This can encourage their participation in social activities since such young people can learn from their peers how to express themselves in a classroom setting (Coplan and Rudasill 98). Furthermore, allowing them to interact in small groups may make it easier to instantiate conversations when compared to the larger classroom experience. Additionally, providing them with opportunities to speak out to answer questions prevents other extroverted students from overshadowing their abilities. It also creates an environment where they can feel valued for their inputs in classroom activities, thus motivating them to continue such participation. Therefore, understanding the small matters can help develop such children into active school involvement without forcing them.
Shyness can cause a significant change in children’s behavior, but appropriate intervention measures can help them overcome it to become more sociable as they grow up. It mainly involves feelings of fear and apprehension to new people or environments from an early age. Factors such as upbringing, feelings of self-awareness, embarrassment, and natural temperaments cause shyness in children. These can affect their behavior at home and in the classroom, thus leading to declining performance and social anxiety that negatively impact their ability to form meaningful relationships. However, interventions such as parental care and support in communication and teacher support in the classroom can help them overcome these challenges. Providing opportunities for such children to express their thoughts and beliefs while also getting opportunities to interact constructively with their peers can build confidence and motivate them to more positive social behaviors.
Coplan, Robert J. and Kathleen Rudasill. Quiet at School: An Educator’s Guide to Shy Children. Teachers College P, 2016.
Gunther, Kelley, et al. “The Biology of Shyness and Adapting to Threat.” Adaptive Shyness, edited by L. A. Schmidt and K. L. Poole, Springer, 2020, 111–127.
Kalutskaya, Irina N., et al. “Shy Children in the Classroom: From Research to Educational Practice.” Translational Issues in Psychological Science, vol. 1, no. 2, 2015, pp. 149–157. Web.
Poole, Kristie L., and Louis A. Schmidt. “Early‐ and Later‐Developing Shyness in Children: An Investigation of Biological and Behavioral Correlates.” Developmental Psychobiology, vol. 62, no. 5, 2019, pp. 644–656. Web.
Thornton, Stephanie. “Helping Children and Young People Overcome Shyness.” British Journal of School Nursing, vol. 12, no. 8, 2017, pp. 407–409. Web.