It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips Series with Heather Johnson” here on The Idea Room. I for one, really enjoy all her great tips and advice on things that most of us as parents struggle with. Here’s Heather in her own words…
Have you ever been in a public situation and one of your children will not talk or answer questions? Maybe you followed up their actions with “Oh, he is just shy”. Sound familiar?
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. There are things we can do as parents to teach our children so they feel more comfortable around new people and in social situations.
First… The DON’TS
DON’T LABEL YOUR CHILDREN
When we label our children, our children are more likely to “become” that label. If your child is asked a question, and refuses to answer, you don’t want to say “he is just shy”. The more we make comments like this, the quieter our child will become.
Don’t let other people label your child either. “Are you shy”, shouldn’t be something your child has to hear from others. When someone does decide to label your child, respond by saying something like, “No he isn’t shy, just not very talkative right now”. This is a much more productive approach than labeling.
DON’T RESCUE YOUR CHILD
Don’t answer for our children when they won’t talk. Just go on with the conversation and let your child participate when they are ready.
DON’T FORCE OR PRESSURE
Pressure will most likely turn into a power struggle where your child will act exactly how you don’t want them to act, just to prove that they are in control.
DON’T BE EMBARRASSED
It can be embarrassing to have our 3 year old hiding between our legs, refusing to talk to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We might think it makes us look like bad parents, like we don’t have control of our children, and that they don’t respect us and won’t obey. Maybe we worry people will think we haven’t taught our children. We have to get over those thoughts. If others judge, it is their problem. We know our children best. We need to do what is best for them. Don’t let what others think affect our actions.
Do…PREPARE YOUR CHILD BEFORE HAND
Explain to your child what will take place in the upcoming situation. Explain that there will be new people who want to say hello, shake their hands, and ask them their names. Give them a good idea of what might happen so they are not caught off guard. Don’t just explain what will happen, talk about what you expect them to do in the situations.
DO…EXPOSE YOUR CHILD TO ALL DIFFERENT SITUATIONS
Don’t shelter your children. Expose them to lots of different situations with different people. Give them opportunities to be social, but don’t force them to perform in the situations. Give them lots of new experiences and opportunities.
DO…PRACTICE SOCIAL SKILLS
Role Playing is a very important teaching tool and will help build your child’s confidence. Practice what to say when they meet someone new. Practice making eye contact. Practice how to introduce themselves. Practice speaking up, so others can hear them.
DO…ARRIVE EARLY AT SOCIAL GATHERINGS
Many times, kids just need a few minutes in new situations to feel comfortable. Arriving early to social situations, parties and gatherings will allow your kids a few minutes to “assess” the setting, and even meet a few people before everyone arrives. It gives them time to warm up to the people and the environment. They are able to already establish their position in the environment instead of “arriving into an environment already in progress”.
DO…ATTEND FAMILY GATHERINGS and PROVIDE LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
When your family is together and you know your child is comfortable, give them the opportunity to lead and be in charge. Use situations that are already occurring and give them special tasks and assignments. Teach them public speaking skills, and let them practice.
Kids have their own personalities and inner feelings. Instead of labeling and assuming, work with them and you will see huge differences in their actions when it comes to public situations. All kids need to learn the skills, it is just quicker and easier for some than others. As parents, we need to be patient.It can be a phase, or their age, and with time, things will get easier for them and for you.
DO YOU HAVE A CHILD THAT IS LESS OUTGOING AND MORE RESERVED?