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Help your children overcome shyness

Friday, March 01, 2013

New social situations can be anxiety inducing experiences for some children. NewBridge, located in Pompton Plains, is a counseling center that has been helping children overcome shyness for 49 years. To help children become less anti-social, it helps to understand where these feelings come from. When discussing shyness, take the child’s temperament into consideration, Chilton Memorial Hospital pediatrician Dr. Sarah Blecherman said.

Blecherman describes three different temperaments: easy, shy or difficult.

“A slow to warm up or shy child adapts to new situations or experiences
slowly and often but not always with a negative attitude,” she said. “They
are hesitant when making new friends and may withdraw from having a
new experience.”

Kathleen Blohm Kolaritsch, licensed clinical social worker at NewBridge,
said that the first problem is labeling a child as shy. Blecherman also
agrees with this.

Upon greeting others, avoid saying “Oh, he/she is just shy,” Blohm
Kolaritsch said.

This only reinforces to the child that being shy is a bad personality trait.
Parents should use positive reinforcement to build self esteem in their
children Blohm Kolaritsch said. Parents should also avoid promoting the
image of their child as shy to others.

Forcing a child into an uncomfortable situation or calling them shy increases anxiety and leads to more shy behavior Blecherman said. Calling a child shy increases the probability that they fulfill that role. Promote new experiences and help them be more outgoing by finding things that they are interested in and setting up situations where the child will feel comfortable.

For example, try encouraging the child to share an art project that they are excited about with a family member Blohm Kolaritsch said.

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