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Fear Factor: Guiding Your Child Through Insecurity, Shyness and Fear

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Children who are shy, timid, and reserved may be “coveted” by many parents or parents to be. Yet, according to experts, children are supposed to be outgoing and energetic. Those who are overly apprehensive and bashful may eventually experience self-esteem issues and need early interference and nurturing in more socially appropriate skills and behaviors.

While you don’t want your child to “give in” you do want him or her to somehow fit in and one of the ways to expose your child to fun and positive experiences is to help him or her break out of his/her shell. Here are some effective tips offered by the pros.

· Applaud ambition and accomplishment and your child’s interest or attempt to do something new. Show (extreme) enthusiasm in his/her projects and attempts at projects and help motivate your child to continue trying. Perhaps enroll him or her in a class or group that focuses on his/her particular passion.

· Inspire you child to face fears, and apprehensions. Be reassuring and encouraging and let him/her know how much faith you have in him/her. If nervousness prevails, continue to encourage and persuade you child to make the attempt at something new, including joining a new group anyways. Tell him/her to give it 3 to 5 tries and see how he or she likes it and then you can re-negotiate. Remember they may be “angry” with you initially, but in the long run, they will applaud your persistence.

· Set the example by making friends with other parents or joining parent-child organizations, including a place of worship. Get involved with activities that will require both you and your child to be present and interact with other families, and that will encourage him/her to associate with others and make acquaintances and friends; maybe even get involved in a project or two.

· Push, but not too hard, and focus on making strides in baby steps. Ask your child to perhaps invite a friend over from school or to play with neighbors. Don’t forget to take your child out to kid friendly environments including sports enrollment where he/she may be inclined and encouraged to strike up a conversation with peers.

· Keep talking. Saying something once rarely has an impact, especially if it’s within your child’s nature to react and respond in a certain way. Continually give your child pep talks. Point out his/her good qualities and repeatedly address negative perceptions and thoughts.

· Be conscious of your nonverbal cues and establish a means of be nonverbally encouraging. Also don’t baby your child so they are uncomfortable around others and help him/her also develop their positive non-verbal communication. Help build confidence by teaching him/her to stand straight, sit up straight, speak softly, intelligently and clearly, instruct him/her not to cross his/her arms etc. and make sure you put these practices into practice too. If you are confident and carry yourself that way, chances are your child will be too.

· Discuss uncomfortable situations and potential comfort creating solutions. Also consider role-playing through “awkward” situations.

· Advocate involvement in-group activities that are of interest.

· Set an example in socialization. Host family gatherings and parties with others who have children his/her age, encourage your child to also invite neighbors and classmates, and if he/she has siblings, encourage them and their friends to include your child to help him/her get over his/her “awkwardness”.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Fear Factor: Guiding Your Child Through Insecurity, Shyness and Fear

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