There is nothing as disappointing as when your kid fails his or her line during the school’s end-of-the-year presentation mainly because facing a crowd is a huge task for him or her.

Worse still, research suggests that parental urge to protect a cautious kid may worsen the matter.

Psychologists define shyness as a tendency to withdraw from social encounters, and a tendency to feel awkward and tense when social interaction occurs.

It’s easy to want to protect a kid who struggles in new situations, but researchers advise against going too far.

In one study that followed kids from age 3 to 6, kids who were behaviourally inhibited at age 3 were more likely to remain behaviourally inhibited at age 6 if their caregivers were overprotective.

Findings published in the August edition of the Journal of Research in Personality state that researchers found that parenting that is warm and responsive to a child’s needs helps break the link between shyness and potential mental health problems.

Part of the problem may simply be that shy kids don’t show what they know. In a recent study of shy toddlers, a scientist and her colleagues found that behaviourally inhibited kids were perfectly able to understand language, but are much less likely than the outgoing kids to talk (especially with a stranger in a psychology lab).

The lesson is that teachers and parents need to think of ways to let shy kids shine, giving them other opportunities to show they know the material.

Parents should also be reassuring. Shy kids who know that their parents are proud of them no matter the outcomes find it easy to express themselves even more.

Shy kids should also be encouraged to participate in social interactions especially around their peer group; parents would be surprised to see that their kids loosen up and express themselves among their friends.


Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.