Ways to help your child overcome shyness

There is nothing as frustrating for a parent than to handle a shy child, one who can’t stand and talk when his or her peers are talking. Handling a shy child requires a lot of patience and sometimes, mothers lose it. But this won’t solve the problem by a long shot.

Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

Mrs. Ayobami said when her last daughter reached speaking age, they began to notice a concerning pattern. She had always been a shy child during her toddler years, but as she continued to develop, she started to realize that her tendency to hold back in interactions with others was becoming more pronounced. She would not speak to anyone outside the immediate family. She never said anything. Yet, while at home where she was comfortable, she would talk away.

As the youngest of six, our daughter grew up around words, and she became a supremely verbal little girl – but only in the presence of family. In public, she was willing to smile, nod, or gesture, but never uttered a word.

Even with her grandparents whom she loves and with whom she would happily spend the night, she wouldn’t talk much. All she does is her solitary thing. She took to whispering in her siblings’ ears for communication in public places, and when she was enrolled in school, she went through several hours of class without joining in the songs or any activities that called for speaking up.

We tried all sorts of things to encourage her to give it a try – rewards, games, verbal encouragement, and it seemed to help a bit. When asked why she wouldn’t speak, she just said she felt embarrassed. It took time, patience, persistence, and a real understanding of what was going on inside her, to help her find her way into a new confidence.

I learned and understood what was going on with her. Anxiety can be difficult to understand. It can be hard to see why situations that don’t trigger your own fears may make your child hesitate or avoid them altogether. I befriended my daughter. I told he she was my friend, gave her hugs for nor reason, pat her on the back whenever she does her homework well.

I planned my help strategies based on her real needs. I found out that her concern was what others may be thinking of her, and I helped her consider ways to check her perceptions against reality. I told her to not jump to conclusions about other people and their relationship with her. She understood that if she’s not clear about something, asking questions is a great way to get enlightened.  Whenever my daughter feels confused about what to do in a new situation, I help her learn new behaviours that might be helpful.

I also considered myself her coach. Overcoming shyness requires building a felt confidence in whatever area of experience is creating the difficulty. Anger, shaming, or impatience was not likely effective strategies in coaching her in new ways of thinking, perceiving, or behaviour. Instead, I took time to give her plenty encouragement, and celebrating her little victories as they come.


I am a writer, a journalist and phenomenal woman. I don't conform to societal stereotypes. I am passionate about women and the issues that plague womanhood in this part of the world. Engage and be awakened.

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