It can be easy to worry about your quiet child as a parent. You might wonder how will your child succeed in school when there is so much going on. You may worry that your child might be left out socially as you watch him or her hold back in group settings. He or she might not be in many activities like other children. Maybe your child doesn’t get invited to a friend’s home that often.
You might try everything you can. Trying to include them into the family conversation at the dinner table. Do you feel like a failure as a parent wondering if you are doing something wrong? You might even feel embarrassed at times or are angry that you are failing as a parent.
But you aren’t.
Your child is going to be okay, and so will you. Telling you this might not help you stop worrying. We worry as moms and as parents.
There are many ways you can help your quiet child succeed. It can be challenging, but there are ways for your quiet child to practice their social skills and learn how to navigate in our loud world more easily. Check out these 5 ways you can help your quiet child succeed.
1. Change the way you speak
It can be easy for quiet children to receive unwitting messages from others, even from their parents, that something is wrong with their quiet behavior. Apologizing to others for your child’s reserved behavior can imply that your child’s quietness is a negative thing. Instead of saying sorry, try something like “She’s feeling quiet right now.” This helps acknowledge how your kid is feeling in the moment and that they do not always feel that way. Helping create an environment of acceptance within your own family and outside will give your child the freedom to be who he or she truly is.
2. Open a conversation
Speak with your child after about a situation that have made them go silent. These sort of conversations can help both of you better understand the behavior. You then can help offer some tools to help your child next time a similar situation occurs. If your child doesn’t feel like greeting another person back, suggest to them that they can wave hello or even smile. This will help your child transition to more social interactions that occur within school and other activities.
3. Practice together
We can often feel overwhelmed ourselves in a loud or an unfamiliar environment. As adults we can push through such situations, but our quiet children are still learning to hone these skills. One way to help your child work on their skills is practicing together. Introduce your child to social situations that will allow him or her to steadily work towards feeling comfortable and eventually having fun with other kids.
Try not to put your child in a large playgroup or force interactions before your child is ready. This can cause your child to feel more anxious and may even try to further avoid interactions. Start with small interactions like a playdate with one other kid and slowly overtime move to a larger group setting. If your child chooses a more extrovert friend, don’t be surprised. A loud friend can often help your quiet child find their way into social settings and making new friends!
4. Make a plan
If there is an event coming up, work out some strategies ahead of time. For instance, if there is a friend’s birthday party coming up tell your child that it is always nice to say hello to the birthday boy or girl and tell them happy birthday. You can even role-play the interaction together before the party so he or she knows how it feels to say the words. When your child has a playdate, have them bring their favorite stuffed animal or book. They can use their favorite item as an icebreaker.
Make sure you are not the last one to arrive at an event. Often arriving last can be overwhelming for your child if the environment is loud. Get there early so others can approach your child and help them have a one-on-one interaction before the others arrive.
5. Celebrate their accomplishments
When your child steps out of their comfort zone praise them for their accomplishment. It’s important to recognize and praise their new skills as this can boost their confidence. Remember not to bribe your child into interacting with someone. This will give your child the wrong idea. Instead, acknowledge your child’s social strides as they occur. When your child is having a good time at a playdate or event make sure you tell them that you see that they are having a good time. Your words will help your child notice that they are making progress and doing it!