Jennifer recalls how tough it was to be an only child. Her grandmother would always remind her of how different she was from other children because she preferred to play alone. Although she liked to be alone, she still felt lonely.
She believed her shyness peaked after her parents divorced. The seven-year-old had never expected to be living with a stepparent. Her comfort of coming home to both parents quickly diminished, causing anxiety, insecurity, and low self-esteem.
Shortly after her parents separated, she felt that her parents no longer had time to listen to her. Jennifer felt as though she had no voice and just had to accept the situation. She became conditioned to being alone and eventually found being alone comforting. Many children who experience divorce may find themselves without a voice, which can contribute to feelings of guilt and shame. This might result in shyness, insecurity, and separation anxiety.
Jennifer believes that being a shy child hurt her emotional growth and contributed to her difficult childhood. She recalls the pain of how her parents paid little attention to her. As a result, she sought little attention in school and had difficulties forming relationships with others. Being the only child was difficult and having no siblings to play with or talk to contributed even further to her sense of isolation and lack of social skills.
Divorce is not the only factor that can cause shyness and a lack of social skills in children. Additional factors, such as abuse, neglect, an overprotective parent, and mental disorders, including learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, can contribute to shy characteristics. Being an only child can also affect a child’s sociability.
When children do not feel encouraged, they tend to clam up and disengage with others. Therefore, if you are the parent of a child that exhibits shyness, try not to label him or her as shy. Once children are labeled as shy, it can take away their self-esteem and motivation to become outgoing and social. Also, overprotective parents can take away their children’s independence by not allowing them to learn skills and make decisions in social settings.
The following are ways to reduce shyness in children: