One word that proves your child is listening to you, loud and clear.

by Babs Hadjusiewicz July 07, 2009

shy-kidOh, my! Oh, my! What kind of shy? As discussed in these articles on and, there are varied reasons for shyness in children. Feeling shy can and does present limitations for a child. I want to address one kind of shyness that I encounter frequently when I first greet a young child who’s accompanied by a parent or caregiver. The child sends all kinds of smiles my way as our eyes meet. All kinds of smiles because kids quickly pick up on my giving them attention…as in recognition and respect. I see those eyes and smiles responding positively to my expectation that we will connect verbally. Eye contact and smiles, that is, until their adult voices a different expectation, “Oh, he’s shy.” Now, that little face darts behind the parent’s leg. I can almost see the child's thinking: Gotta be shy ‘cause that’s what my (mom/dad/accompanying adult) expects. In truth, I have yet to meet a child who’s shy…with me. I’ve met parents who say their child’s shy. But I’ve not met their shy child face-to-face. What I meet is a child whose bright little eyes are eager to meet mine. A child who's eager to engage in conversation. So what kind of shy is it when a child is acting on an adult's stated expectation? Is it an eagerness to explain away a pang of parental anxiety that the child might not respond appropriately when greeted? If one throws out a label…shy…might it offer “cover” for the child…and for the parent? Does it then become a habit for the adult...and child? Do we now have a shy child? Another truth: I have yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want the very best for their child. We parents hope our child will put that best foot forward, don't we! We want our child to feel confident. And we want to feel proudful to witness our child's graceful confidence while meeting and conversing with others. One way you can build that confidence is to help your child own (or know the words from hearing it again and again) this favorite esteem-building poem of mine as shared in a previous post. Then your child (and you!) can say those familiar lines whenever shy expectations seem about to set in.

Babs Hadjusiewicz
Babs Hadjusiewicz


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