“Please don’t call me shy”

Every parent wants to raise a confident child. All children are different. They have different personalities and temperaments. As parents, we tend to worry and even be embarrassed by our less outgoing, more reserved children.

Have you ever heard yourself introduce your child by saying who he/she is and then when the child is quiet, saying, he/she is shy?  Please think about what you are doing. We don’t mean to, however, we just put a label on the child.

According to Wikipedia, “The primary defining characteristic of shyness is a largely ego-driven fear of what other people will think of a person’s behavior, which results in the person becoming scared of doing or saying what he or she wants to, out of fear of negative reactions, criticism, rejection, and simply opting to avoid social situations instead.”

Labelling a child ‘shy’ means you’re talking about who they are as a person, not just their behavior. Children will often take others’ observations seriously, especially those of the people they look up to. They absorb the labels you give them, and these are difficult to shake off.

Shyness is not considered a desirable trait in western culture. The term shy has some very negative connotations: anxious, awkward, fearful, timid, inhibited, etc. Our society openly approves of being bold and outgoing more than being reserved and quiet. Therefore, a child knows very well that being called shy is not a compliment and they begin to believe that they are not good enough. Eventually, they could come to believe that shyness is a part of who they are at their core and the label of ‘shy’ becomes self-fulfilling.

Many people think the shy label is necessary to explain the behavior of their child, but is there really anything wrong with being quiet and contemplative?  Those are great qualities in children.

Here, 3 reasons not to call your child “shy.”

  1. Calling your child her shy could make her feel you disapprove of her personality, not a message we want to send to our children.
  2. It helps to let your child know you are proud of her for taking small steps when she is fearful. Each small step is forward movement that leads to overcoming obstacles bit by bit.
  3. It’s essential that you show your child her style of relating is the right way for her, even if it’s different from your way. Parents should be careful not to impose their belief systems about being highly social as something that is necessary.

So next time you are thinking about labeling your child as “shy,”

Instead of saying this…

“You’re shy.” or “Don’t be shy.”

Try some statements like these…

“You’re talkative with people you know well.”

“It takes a little while for you to feel comfortable with new people.

“You like to know what something is all about before you try it.”

Instead of labels, describe the behaviors in a positive way.

As parents, we strive to ensure our children have a wide range of possibilities for their life, don’t define your child by labeling them as shy 😊.

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