I’ve been a shy, quiet person for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always felt I was just born this way. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to come out of my shell and have gained a lot more confidence. Still, I would not call myself outgoing.
Now that I’m a mom, I see shy/introvert traits in my son that I recognize in both myself and his father. I wonder if he’s picked these cues up from us or whether it’s just in his DNA. Having shy tendencies myself, I’m careful to not give him the impression that there is anything wrong with being shy. I think it’s necessary to have both extroverts and introverts in this world to balance each other out. But there are still times I wish, for his own sake, that he would not respond with silence when a friend greets him for example.
So, what – if anything – can I do to encourage my son to be more outgoing? Amy Guzek, MD, who specializes in Pediatrics, had this to say: “Children’s personality and whether they will be an introvert or extrovert are somewhat hard-wired. You will not likely change an innate personality.
As a parent, we can encourage our children to explore different environments and activities. Some children may thrive in smaller group settings. Others may enjoy a team sport or larger setting with a chance to acclimate if they are on the shy side. The key is to support your child in whatever way is comfortable to her, while also allowing her the opportunity to experience different things.
Dr. Guzek also recommended HealthyChildren.org’s article “Shyness in Children” as a great launching point for sound pediatric advice. And after reading it, I’m reassured that my son is just one of those who needs a little more time to warm up. The fact kids are going out of their way to greet him tells me that he’s not being rejected by his peers. The list of social skills and interactions to work on and model as parents are also very helpful.
I’ve often felt being a parent has made me a better person, and doing this bit of research has just reinforced that I need to lead by example. If he sees me doing things that push me outside of my comfort zone, I can only hope that he will do the same!