Is your little one exhibiting signs of shyness when it comes to social situations and meeting new people? If so, you might be wondering how to help a shy toddler. You might even be wondering if it’s normal for toddlers to be shy in the first place.
First of all, let us reassure you that it is completely normal for toddlers to be shy since they are still understanding the world around them and are finding their feet in so many different, new scenarios.
Very young children are not yet used to being sociable, and they’re still navigating how to interact with others, whether that’s their peers, older children, or adults.
If you have a very shy toddler, or think your child could do with a couple of pointers to build their confidence, we have some ways you can help them.
After all, at Little Angels we see children of all personalities and temperaments, from very shy toddlers to children who unleash their inner social butterfly the minute they step through our doors!
Which is why, over the years, we’ve picked up some valuable tips that will help you bring your shy toddler out of themselves.
Tips to Help Shy Toddlers Build Their Confidence
If your young child has a tendency to cling to you, hides behind you, is reluctant to join in games or refuses to talk to unfamiliar people, this is normal shy toddler behaviour.
And that is absolutely fine. But as a parent or guardian, it’s only natural that you want to see your child blossom, grow, increase in confidence and make friends.
Here are some tips on how to help a shy toddler become more confident.
Lead By Example
Your child learns by mimicking your behaviour, so it’s important that you become a good role model for them in this regard.
It might not come naturally to you either if you’re also shy, but do your best to exhibit confident behaviour so your shy toddler can learn from you.
You don’t need to suddenly become the most gregarious person in the room, but small actions such as proactively saying hello and smiling at people – such as the other parents at nursery – are a great start.
Congratulate Brave Behaviour
It can take a lot to bring a very shy toddler out of their shell, but if you praise them when they’ve been brave, this will go a long way to helping build their confidence.
If you want to know how to help your shy toddler, one of the best things you can do is to draw positive attention to new behaviours such as answering an adult’s question, playing with other children or trying out a new activity at nursery.
Make it clear why you’re praising them so they will be more likely to repeat the action. For example, “That was very nice when you told Mia’s mummy your name. I think she really liked that!”
Activities such as learning a second language or taking music lessons are great ways to get a shy toddler to build on their skills – which will have the natural, knock-on effect of increasing their confidence.
Classes that help children learn and grow are not only educational, but they’re always great fun too. Especially when singing, shouting out new words, or making a racket with an instrument are concerned!
Not only that, but your toddler will be in a smaller group of children who are all learning the same thing, meaning there will be a sense of camaraderie from which friendships can bloom.
Forcing your shy toddler into unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable situations is not going to help matters.
As we’ve said, it is normal for toddlers to be shy, so allow them the time to feel comfortable. If needs be, stay with your little one in social situations – such as playdates, parties and playgroups – but also encourage them to explore
Once your toddler starts to become more at ease, you can slowly physically step away from them for short periods by talking to other parents who are present instead of focusing purely on your child.
Arrange a Playdate
Talking of playdates, these are an excellent way to help a shy toddler increase in confidence by making friends.
Ask your child if there is someone they particularly like playing with at nursery and speak to their parent or guardian about arranging a playdate.
Even if your very shy toddler hasn’t shown many signs of being outwardly social at nursery yet, why not chat to some like minded parents and see if you can organise a get together.
You never know – it could be a blessing in disguise for the parents too!
Make Eye Contact
Along with hiding behind you and refusing to speak, another sign of a very shy toddler can be a reluctance to make eye contact.
If you want to know how to help a shy toddler, make eye contact with them. It’s as simple as that. As adults, we know that making eye contact with others is an important social skill.
It’s therefore a good idea to encourage your child to do this from an early age, as this will help to increase their confidence and improve their social skills.
Can Nursery Help a Shy Toddler?
At Little Angels we’ve been privileged to witness countless former shy (and very shy) toddlers grow into wonderfully sociable little people.
That’s because nursery will massively improve your child’s confidence, and therefore help them overcome their innate shyness for a number of reasons.
Children who go to nursery or preschool become more independent. At Little Angels, for example, we encourage children to interact with the different age groups within our nursery, and we also encourage group and independent play.
Both of these things help toddlers learn how to communicate – both with their peers and with older children and adults – and help them develop the social skills needed to overcome shyness.
And if you’re worried about your very shy toddler starting nursery, we highly recommend you attend a nursery open day, as this is a fantastic way to find the right environment for your child to thrive in.
Learn More About Little Angels Nursery
At Little Angels nurseries, we are more than used to looking after shy and very shy toddlers.
And we believe it is our empathy for both children and parents, the latter of whom may be wondering if it is normal for a toddler to be shy and not knowing how best to help them, that makes us special
We’re located near Southwark Bridge and Perkins Square and we’d love to help your child learn and grow whilst we help them increase in confidence.