Confidence is defined as “Trust or faith in a person or thing; A feeling of reassurance, especially of self-assurance.”
A parent recently asked me how they could gently give their child more confidence.
The Montessori approach engenders confident children as these children are shown every day that we believe they are capable individuals, able to look after their own needs, and as they grow a little older, to the needs of others and their environment.
Download this simple chart to print out to remind you!
Top tips how to help your shy kid get confident
1. Stop calling them “shy”
It is a very difficult label to grow out of and often becomes self-fulfilling. Instead, if someone comes up to talk to them and they hide behind you, you can get them to practise saying something like, “I don’t feel like talking right now.”
2. If your child takes some time to warm up at parties etc, give them the time to stand with you and observe until they are ready to participate
Don’t give it too much attention. Make it quite boring for them standing with the adults watching. But also give your child the message that you accept them as they are and know that they will go and play when they are ready.
3. Some children need to know in advance
Preparing children in advance so they know what to expect can give them more confidence.
For example, if you are about to see Sinterklas arriving in Amsterdam, you can prepare your child by letting them know that there are going to be a lot of people but you will be holding their hand all the time. You can tell them that there will be lots of Zwarte Piets with their faces painted black offering pepernoten to the children etc. Or it may be telling your child about how many people will be at a party and what the plan is (you can always ask the host in advance).
4. Role playing
It can give children more confidence to practise certain skills like making friends, using their words, saying thank you, or clapping at a play. It takes practice to develop these skills and some children find role playing very useful.
5. Never compare a child to a sibling or friend, even out of frustration
Sometimes in our efforts to inspire kids we use friends or siblings as role models. Comments such as “Look how your sister plays with the others?” actually discourage these kids rather than encourage them. Compare kids only with themselves not others.
6. Show your child how to do things for themselves
A child who is shown how to do things for themselves, grows in confidence each time they dress themselves, clear their plates from the table, wipe up a spill etc. This applies for all kids, especially kids who can feel self-conscious at times.
7. Educate yourself about introversion
If you think your child may be an introvert, it would be a worthwhile investment of your time to read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Cannot Stop Talking”. I love this byline, and I love this book. I wrote a little about it here.
I think it is difficult to raise a child who can be shy at times because society almost expects that every child should be chatty and easy to talk to. Understanding introversion will help parents not only see the world through their child’s eyes, but be aware how they can help their child.
I truly think we can support children who appear to be shy. Try these tips and let me know how you go.