Counselling Corner

Shyness In Young Children

Shyness is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort and awkwardness when a child is in company of unfamiliar others. Shyness is different from social anxiety and can occur at any stage of development.

Signs Of Shyness

Holding on to the mother

Hiding behind the mother

Demanding approval for every action

Not comfortable in the company of others

Thumb sucking/nail biting

Causes Of Shyness

● Insecurity - less than firm attachment bond between parent and child

Over protection by parents

● No exposure to new people

● Extremely limited social interaction

● Criticizing the child in front of others

How To Deal With The Condition

● Encourage the child to discuss if any difficulty/fear

● Let the child explore, experiment and create on its own

● Prepare the child for an upcoming event, like explain before visiting a friend’s house

● Narrate your own instances of shyness during childhood

● Provide satisfying activities and achievable targets

● Give responsibility to the child like watering plants, filling water bottles

● Express your love by kissing and hugging more

● Reward your child whenever he/she makes an effort to speak to others

● Do not force the child to talk to others

● Invite child’s friends over to build friendship

● Suggest friendly phrases that can be used

● Do not overreact to his/her shyness

● Do not label the child ‘shy’

● Let the child talk of his/her positives to the mirror.

Reeti Jain


Interference with normal communication due to speech and language difficulty is common in pre-school age children.
Reasons for speech problem:

  • . Children may not have sufficient vocabulary to express themselves.

  • . Inability to express clearly, influences their personal and social adjustment, this may aggravate the problem.

  • . Adults may not be devoting enough time to hear the children patiently.

  • . Children may be asked to keep quiet or speak correctly in public, which may create an environment of anxiety for the child.

  • . Children may not have right role models to emulate. For example, adults may be conversing in ‘baby talk’ with the child.

How to improve on the problem:
  • . Encourage the children to talk without hesitation in a relaxed environment.

  • . Listen to them patiently and carefully, making eye contact.

  • . Read out to them so that they learn correct pronounciation.

  • . Avoid ‘baby talk’ as they learn what they hear.

  • . Do not ridicule the child for his incorrect language or speech.

  • . Offer them proper guidance by correcting them.

  • . Do not force the child to speak fluently.

  • . Understand the child, support him or her and create confidence.

  • . Never punish the child for speech related problems.

  • Note:
    If the problem persists after five years of age, speech therapy may be required. The child could be under emotional stress and seeking guidance of a counsellor is advised.

    Reeti Jain