- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 12, 2004

Dealing with a shy child can be quite challenging for many parents, but what happens when you have a shy child and an outgoing child in the same house?

Sheila Niswander of Dunkirk, Md., has an outgoing 4-year-old girl and a reserved 8-year-old boy.

“My 4-year-old is much more talkative,” she says. “It’s a typical first-child, second-child thing.”

But Mrs. Niswander, who also teaches first grade at Mount Harmony Elementary in Owings, knows that it’s important not to allow one child to roll over the other.

“You spend a lot of time keeping watch,” she says. “You want to look for the level of comfort for both kids.”

The key is to ensure that the needs of both children are met and that each child is appreciated for individual strengths and abilities.

“It shouldn’t be just the squeaky wheel that gets all the grease,” says Dr. Paul Steinberg, who deals with adolescents as associate director of Georgetown University’s Counseling and Psychiatric Service and with adolescents and adults in his private practice.

“The shy child may withdraw even more if parents reinforce that fact,” he says. “Parents should recognize that they’ve got so much to offer.”

To make sure that both their children’s needs are met, the Niswanders often split up the child care.

“We go one on one,” she says. “That way they both get attention.”

Sometimes, of course, the two are put together. Mrs. Niswander says it can be a boon when the shy child is older than the nonshy sibling; it allows the shy child to take the lead.

“It’s beneficial to have him stand up to her,” she says. “It gives him a safe zone.”

While it may be easier to recognize the successes of the nonshy child, even small steps taken by the shy sibling should be celebrated, Dr. Steinberg says.

“You need to encourage lots of kudos,” he says. “Use lots of affirmations and support the child in a nonpunitive way. Shy children need lots of encouragement from parents.”

MORE INFO:

BOOKS —

• “THE FRIENDSHIP FACTOR: HELPING OUR CHILDREN NAVIGATE THEIR SOCIAL WORLD AND WHY IT MATTERS FOR THEIR SUCCESS,” BY KENNETH H. RUBIN WITH ANDREA THOMPSON, PENGUIN USA, 2003. THE AUTHOR, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN, RELATIONSHIPS AND CULTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, DISCUSSES THE IMPORTANCE OF CHILDREN’S SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT.

• “RAISE YOUR CHILD’S SOCIAL IQ: STEPPING STONES TO PEOPLE SKILLS FOR KIDS,” BY CATHI COHEN, ADVANTAGE BOOKS, 2000. THIS BOOK OFFERS A SIMPLE APPROACH FOR CHILDREN WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO BE ACCEPTED TO ACQUIRE THE SOCIAL SKILLS THEY NEED.

• “WHY DOESN’T ANYBODY LIKE ME? A GUIDE TO RAISING SOCIALLY CONFIDENT KIDS,” BY HARA ESTROFF MARANO, WILLIAM MORROW, 1998. THIS BOOK GIVES PARENTS TIPS TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN IMPROVE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS.

• “THE SHY CHILD: HELPING CHILDREN TRIUMPH OVER SHYNESS,” BY WARD K. SWALLOW, WARNER BOOKS, 2000. THIS BOOK OFFERS ADVICE TO HELP CHILDREN AT VARIOUS AGES TO OVERCOME SHYNESS.

• “THE SHY CHILD: OVERCOMING AND PREVENTING SHYNESS FROM INFANCY TO ADULTHOOD,” BY PHILIP ZIMBARDO AND SHIRLEY RADL, MALOR BOOKS, 1999. THIS BOOK DISCUSSES WHICH PARENTING STYLES CONTRIBUTE MOST TO A CHILD’S SELF-CONFIDENCE.

ONLINE —

• INDIANA UNIVERSITY SOUTHEAST’S SHYNESS RESEARCH INSTITUTE (HTTP://HOMEPAGES.IUS.EDU/SPECIAL/SHYNESS/) STRIVES TO UNDERSTAND SHY CHILDREN, NOT CHANGE THEM. THE SITE OFFERS LINKS TO BOOKS AND ARTICLES ON SHYNESS.

• AN AREA OF KIDSHEALTH.ORG, A NONPROFIT SITE SPONSORED BY THE NEMOURS FOUNDATION, OFFERS INFORMATION ESPECIALLY FOR CHILDREN ON OVERCOMING SHYNESS (HTTP://KIDSHEALTH.ORG/KID/FEELING/THOUGHT/SHY.HTML).

• AN AREA OF PARENTCENTER.COM (WWW.PARENTCENTER.COM/REFCAP/LEARNING/SCHOOLSUCCESS/8626.HTML) GIVES PARENTS ADVICE ON HELPING SHY CHILDREN SUCCEED IN SCHOOL.

OTHER RESOURCES —

• THE CHILDREN’S NATIONAL MEDICAL CENTER INFANT AND TODDLER PROGRAM; WEB SITE, WWW.DCCHILDRENS.COM/PROGRAMANDSERVICES/PROGRAM_INFANTANDTODDLERPROGRAMITP.ASP; PHONE: 202/884-5960.

• THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN, RELATIONSHIPS AND CULTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND; WEB SITE: WWW.EDUCATION.UMD.EDU/EDHD/.CCRC/; PHONE: 301/405-0458.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide