Shyness may be an inborn aspect of someone’s personality, yet it can be addressed with a natural medicine. Parents typically say of their child, “He is becoming more himself somehow.” These medicines cannot change the child’s intrinsic nature, but by helping the child feel stronger in himself and freer to express himself, they can help him overcome his shyness.

Perhaps the most extreme shy personality type (and corresponding natural medicine) is called Baryta carb. This type of child hides his head in his mother’s skirts or between her legs, and hides behind the furniture when company comes. He is extremely self-conscious to the point that he’s often convinced people are laughing at him. This child is often delayed mentally and/or emotionally. The medicine can help a child catch up in school, and can also help an immature, dependent, insecure child become more sure of himself.

A Silica type of child, on the other hand (one who needs and will respond well to the natural medicine Silica) does have a lot of internal strength and resoluteness. She just holds back from expressing it. She tends to hold everything in, whether her emotions, her opinions or her preferences, instead appearing to yield to a dominant friend or family member. Deep inside, though, she is very sure of herself. If asked to do something she does not want to do, she will drag her feet and make the task very difficult. So she is able to resist, but she does not have the inner strength to assert her preference in the first place. So she is likely to be quiet and withdrawn in a group, perhaps perceived as a milquetoast. The changes wrought by the medicine Silica will be both subtle and remarkable. In my practice, mothers have said things like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but she just seems more like herself,” as this previously shy child learns to speak up.

Pulsatilla is probably the most common natural medicine for small children, and the need for it shows up in many ways, from sibling rivalry to separation anxiety. The shyness of a Pulsatilla child reflects her emotional immaturity and attachment to her mother. When I have a Pulsatilla child in my office, she won’t answer my questions, instead turning her head to her mother and waiting for her mother’s answer. Pulsatilla has a remarkable ability to help children move through the appropriate developmental stages, including the inevitable independence from mom.

I once had a little girl client who was diagnosed with selective mutism: she never spoke outside the home, and even then she would not speak if someone other than a family member was there. The problem was clearly psychological, since she could speak normally with her family. She had been through dozens of appointments with specialists including child psychologists and speech therapists, to no avail.

I find it helpful to begin by asking, “Why?” In the case of this little 4-1/2 year old girl, most of her parents’ attention was focused on her older sister who was autistic and unable to speak. The little girl must have concluded that she could get her parents’ attention by not speaking, and in fact she did, as her distraught mother dragged both children to endless appointments. The poor mother was at her wit’s end by the time she came to see me.

I gave the little girl Pulsatilla first, because she was so clearly jealous of her sister. The tension in that relationship relaxed, and I was then able to give her Baryta carb. to help her grow up. Six months after I began working with her, her mother called with the good news: “At her birthday party, Sally announced ‘I’m five now and I’m going to talk to everybody!’ which in fact she did, going around and talking to all her friends and relatives.”

The story does not end there, however. Sally came back to see me recently at the age of 14 for a teenage hormonal problem. She has been starring in her school plays for years now!

It’s best to take your shy child to a professional expert (i.e. a certified homeopath). However, they are also safe to try in a low 6c potency if you feel sure that one matches your child. You can easily get them online (search for “homeopathic remedies” then the name of the one you want.) Start small, with just a couple of pellets a day dissolved in the mouth, until you see how your child reacts. (Children love taking these tiny sweet pellets!) If you don’t notice any change, you can gradually increase until you are giving three doses a day. (The FDA has determined that they are all safe to use as over-the-counter medicines.) If you finish one tube and don’t notice anything, it’s best to consult a professional.

About the Author

Burke Lennihan

Burke Lennihan, the author of Your Natural Medicine Cabinet, is a former health food storeowner and a holistic practitioner at the Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge.

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