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It is absolutely undeniable that each child is unique and different. No two are the same. As parents we know that each child has their own temperament and personality, their way of interacting with the world, their preferences and their tastes from the moment of birth.
As we grow up, we observe how some are more spontaneous and open while others are more shy and withdrawn. Some easily strike up conversations with strangers while others hide behind Mom until the ice is broken. In the latter case, how should parents act? Is it necessary to intervene and modify their way of being or is it preferable to wait and respect their way of being in the world? Intervene, wait, respect? What should we do?
First of all we must understand that shyness in the first years of life should not be considered a problem. Only if beyond 6-7 years the boy or girl openly manifests relationship problems with their peers should we speak with a child psychology professional.
As children grow and develop, they acquire different abilities and skills, including social-emotional ones. Social skills that will allow them to interact with others in a healthy and rewarding way. These, contrary to what we believe, are not innate, we are not born with them, therefore, they can be learned. The best teachers in childhood are the reference adults (parents) and from them and with them children learn to relate to others.
Many parents who ask about the shyness of their children of 2 or 3 years, of 4 or 5, are concerned that they do not know how to relate properly with their classmates at the park or school. They are afraid that they will not know how to defend their interests before others, that they will be left out or even make fun of them.
This concern is completely normal and understandable since whenever we talk about shy and withdrawn children, we do it from a negative point of view, from the need to promote their lack of confidence or increase their self-esteem. It is true that we must provide these children with social skills and personal resources so that they can, in the future, relate to others without difficulty, but we must be cautious and respect the times of each child.
Before seeking professional help and intervening, it must be understood that there are children who need more time than others to adapt and relate, who take time to feel comfortable and open up to others.
But there are also others who simply choose not to participate in some social activity. because they just don't care. Whatever the case, we must respect their way of proceeding without pressuring them to greet, kiss or interact with the grandmother, the teacher or the person on duty who wants to make them funny.
The answer is to be respectful of the way you are and this means do not force, do not insist, do not force. It means accepting their reactions and not giving importance to their behavior, their refusal to say hello or interact with others. It means giving you time to decide whether or not you want to participate, to see and observe the situation.
If we do not force, if we do not force, if we do not insist, the boy or girl who is initially shy and withdrawn will have the opportunity to initiate the social relationship when he feels ready. The more we insist the worse, that is why we must avoid:
- Reproach, criticize or punish their way of being.
- Scolding for not wanting to kiss when greeting.
- Answer for him or her when they ask a question.
- Compare him with other children or siblings, because each child is special, unique and unrepeatable.
Accept your child as he is, provide him with different opportunities for social interaction, and respect his time. Children need time to know how they should act in society.
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