In Practice

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Help Your Shy Child Cope with the Holidays

Parents can help shy children feel more relaxed during the holidays.

Parents of shy children often worry about how their child will react to an influx of visitors over the holidays. Here are five tips to make life easy for you and your child.

Tell Your Visitors How to Bring Your Child Out of His/Her Shell

If your child has some passionate interests, let your friends and relatives know what they are. Encourage visiting friends and relatives to try starting a one-on-one conversation with your child about your child's special interests. 

If your child is slow to warm to relatives they only see infrequently, it doesn't mean they're unsociable. They might just need a little extra time and help to come out of their shell.

Talk to Your Child in Advance About Topics They Might Discuss with Visiting Relatives

Social skills come naturally to some children. Other children need more explicit help to know what to do in social situations. Once they have some ideas, they're likely to be more confident asking questions to new people. 

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Give Your Child a Job To Do

Shy children sometimes love to do jobs like taking trays of h'orderves around to guests. They'll feel more relaxed if you give them a task that helps them feel like they're doing a good job at something. Tasks like shelling walnuts can be used to give your child the opportunity to take some personal time away from the crowd.

Communicate To Your Child That Other People Like Them

Shy children often receive comments like "You don't talk much do you?" Find out if your child believes other people don't particularly like them. Make sure they know that their relatives are looking forward to seeing them. 

Develop Holiday Rituals Your Child Will Look Forward To

Routines and predictability help settle the anxiety systems of shy children. If you can, create a predicable structure to your Christmas Day that your child will look forward to.  For example, if you travel at Christmas, a shy child might feel calmer if they have their own special backpack that they take on each trip to the airport or long car ride. 

If you liked this article

If you liked this article, you'll probably like this one on 50 Common Cognitive Distortions.

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photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Alice Boyes, Ph.D. translates principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and social psychology into tips people can use in their everyday lives.

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