One of the most important goals of early childhood education is the development of a child’s social aptitude- their ability to get along with others. Even at an early age, a child needs to learn how to approach other children, engage with them and communicate effectively. Research indicates that children who can develop and maintain friendships early are more likely to be successful and productive adults.
Every child is different, while some may develop social skills and make friends with ease, others may be more reserved and require more time to feel comfortable in a group. Unfortunately, children who are unable to make friends, often feel rejected and suffer from low self-esteem. Once they get into this mind set it is often difficult to break out of it.
Children can present different challenges to educators. Those who are shy or overly aggressive may find it difficult to get along with others. It is important to first identify the nature of the problem and work to overcome it with the child. By building on their strengths, you will help these children gain acceptance and develop their social skills effectively. A child’s social development is further strengthened when they have secure relationships with parents and teachers and are provided with several opportunities to interact and play with other children.
In almost every group there is a shy child. It is important however, to first observe and identify the reason behind their reserved nature before taking action. The main reasons for their shy nature could be because of genetics, upbringing of the child, and the child’s environment. Never be quick to judge them, they are bright too, but have a different perspective to life.
Below are a few tips and techniques to help shy children break out of their shell, in the classroom or outside:
o Boost their confidence by appreciating any small steps they take towards being social.
o Make sure to involve them in your conversation during class by praising their work, thereby building their self-confidence. Include them into group activities of their choice, this would help them learn from their peers and be influenced by them.
o Initially, do not force the shy child to get friendly with those they are uncomfortable with or dislike. This will further push them away from being social.
o In certain cases, it would be required to get to the root cause of the child’s inability to mix with their peers. This can be done by counselling, finding the right solution, and work towards it.
o Taking the child out to a variety of different places broadens their outlook on life and helps them become more receptive to different situations, people, and perspectives. For instance, even an outing to a garden, a mall or a market place helps them to appreciate the outdoors.
o Organizing play dates with friends from the class, school or neighbourhood can help the children emerge from their shell.
It is completely normal and acceptable for children at a young age to display shy or reserved behavior. The priority of every teacher should first be to ensure the child feels happy, secure and comfortable in their school environment. In the current age, it’s very important to be receptive to all kind of people and experiences. Within this scenario, the extroverts do have an upper hand but there is no ideal type. One size does not fit all. Introverts and extroverts complement each other to make a perfect world. To conclude, if despite all efforts, the child still doesn’t come out of his self-enclosed cocoon then it is best to let them be their own natural self and evolve into the person he/she aspires to be. That will make the child a happier and fulfilled person which is what matters the most.