How To Help Your Shy Child Feel More At Ease

It’s natural to be nervous in new situations, even as adults we sometimes get a little overwhelmed trying new things.

It’s natural to be nervous in new situations, even as adults we sometimes get nervous trying new things, so it’s not surprising that little ones can be nervous or shy when it’s their turn.
Starting playschool is a big step for most children, and it’s important to note that shyness is completely natural. After all, it’s their first time away from home for a large part of the day. Often starting playschool is the first time children will have been around a larger number of other children for an extended period of time.
Then when it comes to starting “big” school it is a big developmental step for most children. They move from a relatively protected environment of a preschool, to a much more demanding environment, where there are more children, more structure and less one on one support.
Some children will go to a school where they don’t know any other children and if they’re shy by nature they may find it difficult making friends.
However, there are lots of things you can do to help.

1. Talk to their teacher
If your little one is coming home from school and telling you they have nobody to play with, It might be a good idea to talk to their teacher to get a full picture of how they are getting on. The teacher may have similar concerns or she may be able to reassure you that your child is actually mixing and getting on well in the classroom. 

Children have the most freedom at yard time and this can sometimes leave a child feeling shy and overwhelmed. However, if the teachers are aware they can help to reduce any problems that might occur. 

If your little one is finding it hard to make friends, the teacher can pair them with other children who might be potential friends.

2. Coach them in advance
Try not to draw too much attention to your child’s shyness either with them or when speaking to other parents when they’re around. Try to encourage your child on what they can do rather than focusing on them being shy and it being a negative thing.
For example, when meeting new people, rather than saying “Don’t be shy”, coach them in advance about positive options they can use to break the ice, such as “why don’t you tell Sarah where you went over the weekend”.
3. Arrange playdates
If she is finding it hard to make friends at school, you could arrange a play date with some potential friends. To make a play date go well it takes a little bit of skill and good hosting from the parents. Make sure:
  • It is mainly one-to-one (by keeping siblings occupied).
  • They have plenty of interactive and attractive toys to choose from.
  • You give them space to play alone but are also there to support if needed.
  • You have time to prepare your child (what she will play with, and so on) and to talk after about how things went.

Remember that friendships are important for young children, and having just one or two good friends in their class could make a huge difference to your child feeling settled and confident.  

Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.

Laura Doyle

Mum of four, Gentle parent living on coffee and trying always to stay positive and motivate in the midst of the madness.

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