Parents Can Help Kids Break Free of Shyness

By Gormly, Kellie B | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

Parents Can Help Kids Break Free of Shyness


Gormly, Kellie B, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Paul Ensanian recalls his trials as a painfully shy child -- part from being overweight and part from having a naturally introverted personality.

"When I was a little kid, it was always a struggle," says Ensanian, 19. He is a Carnegie native who now lives in Downtown and attends the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He says his outgoing mom helped him to break out of his shell by introducing him to her friends' kids and otherwise encouraging him socially.

"For the most part, it's something that I've definitely conquered," Ensanian says.

Just like adults, kids' personalities range from introverted to extroverted, with many degrees in between. While nothing is wrong with having a quieter and more reserved personality, a child's shyness becomes a problem when he or she misses out on opportunities, has few or no friendships and suffers from anxiety, experts say.

Lisa Hauswirth, principal of Hutchinson Elementary School in Greensburg, says that most children are shy at times. However, shyness causes difficulties when it is a prominent pattern, and "when it inhibits children from experiences that they may have had, and when they refuse to enter any new situation without their parents."

Parents should worry if children refuse to participate in extracurricular activities like sports or scouting, and if they usually choose to be alone over being with a friend, Hauswirth says. The good news for parents is that they can help their kids overcome shyness, she says, and many kids grow out of it. Getting shy children involved in extracurricular activities can help, as can reading them children's books about shy animals, Hauswirth says; kids can learn from how the characters solve their problems.

Renee Gilbert, a psychologist who operates the website www.shakeyourshyness.com, says that shyness seems to be inborn with some children, but more of a learned behavior in others. Shy children often have one or more shy parents, or are more prone to anxiety. Shyness can come across to peers as rudeness and to teachers as not being bright or motivated, Gilbert says. Yet, children can overcome their social anxieties, she says.

"I describe shyness as a feeling," says Gilbert, of Bellevue, Wash. "In general, helping our children learn to manage their feelings is the way to go."

Parents need to put their kids in situations where they can develop their social skills, like extracurricular activities with other kids through school, church, scouting and the like, she says. The adults, though, need to strike a balance between pushing too hard -- which can send kids further into their shells -- and enabling and overcomforting their shy kids.

"Part of what your child needs to do is learn to self-soothe," Gilbert says. "On the other hand, if you don't push, nothing will happen."

Parents should be role models by demonstrating social skills, and nurturing friendships, she says.

Surprisingly, shy kids often blossom when they get involved with acting and theater. Rob Zellers, education director of Pittsburgh Public Theater, has observed this many times through the programs that get school kids involved with theater, including the Creative Dramatics program.

"There might be something in the idea that you are being somebody else," Zellers says. "It allows them to do things perhaps they don't normally do as themselves.

"When you step out on that stage, you sort of remove that mask of who you really are," he says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Parents Can Help Kids Break Free of Shyness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.