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Teach Your Child How to Be Outgoing

Some children are naturally cautious with others. Some are what we label as shy. The truth is all children can be reserved toward others at some point in their life.

Helping children to be outgoing is a delicate job. Parents always fear that pushing too fast will create resistance and perhaps bruise the developing personality. Or that waiting too long to promote confident interaction with others will cause it not to happen at all! It is hard to tell the parent of a “shy Echild not to worry. We all want our children to enjoy the expansiveness of life.

With gentleness, a reserved child can be coaxed to “come out of her shell E


Preschoolers are still checking things out! They need to explore and handle their environment and the people in it. Some are more adventurous and step right out. If your little one needs encouragement to open to new experiences and people, go gradually.

New situations and people provide an overload of sensory input to a sensitive child. Holding her close while she surveys a situation is best, letting her know you are listening for her and watching out for her if she does venture out. Reassurance that you are still connected is important.

Small playgroups in quiet surroundings might be a good way to provide an encouraging setting. Going to a park where your child can observe other children having fun may draw her into the activity. Starting with short periods and then extending the time after a bit will prevent your child from being overwhelmed.

Don’t forget to applaud her small successes by saying, “That was fun! We’ll come another time. ETake care not to push her into situations as this is a process that could take years. Patience and understanding without creating a fuss is best. Know that time will likely be the key.

Main points to address:

  • Some children are naturally more sensitive to new situations and people.
  • Go gradually, extending social and play experiences slowly.
  • Remember to offer lots of hugs and smiles.

Grades K-3rd

Reluctance to separate from Dad and Mom at the start of school is quite common. Teachers are experienced with drawing children into activities. The adjustment time can seem like an eternity! Loving support can include “I know you can do this.”

Having some successful experiences with cousins or playmates previous to school will help. Reminding your child you are coming back, or that you will do something fun together will help ease separation emotions.

Giving your child a picture of your family to keep in her lunch pail or on her table at school will comfort her. Having a special code phrase or sign, like “See you later, alligator, Ecan ease parting times.

If your child still seems to be less outgoing than you’d like, invite a gentle playmate to visit your home for short periods. An hour is enough for 5 and 6 year olds; a little longer, but not much for 7 to 9 year olds. Do not push your child into parties or sleepovers if they don’t want to attend.

Practicing shaking hands and introducing yourselves can be fun. Some children have been able to become more outgoing by dressing up and being someone else for a while. Physical sports, martial arts, and dance are safe ways of self-expression that empower and build confidence.

Main points to address:

  • “Separation anxiety Eis common with 5 and 6 year olds.
  • Send a picture of the whole family to school.
  • Plan “short and sweet Eplay periods at your home.
  • Physical sports, martial arts and dance can build confidence.

Grades 4-6th

Most but not all children will have become more outgoing by age 9 or 10. If your child still seems shy but is generally happy, then let time do its magic! But if your youngster is withdrawn and insecure in a way that worries you, trust your instincts and find a counselor to talk with.

But most times continuing to support your child by providing opportunities for interaction with others alternating with periods of fun and close family time will eventually build self-confidence and a willingness to be more social.

Some children connect with elders better than those of their own age group. Volunteering to read to an older person or work in a soup kitchen might be a safe way to open up to others. Any activity that opens the heart without feeling threatening is good.

It is interesting to note that many of the most famous and influential people in history were not very outgoing. They were thinkers and planners, many times creative types who preferred quietude and sometimes solitude to a more stimulating lifestyle.

We walk a fine line as parents between wanting our child to follow their own natural bent and “wanting the best Efor them. Your loving acceptance and support and the passage of time will help your child find their own balance.

Main points to address:

  • Most, but not all, older children have become more outgoing by 9 or 10.
  • Volunteering can be a safe way of opening up to others.
  • Many folks prefer quietude, even as adults.
  • Never force the issue. Time and loving support will help your child grow to be the person they are meant to be.

Posted in Character.

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