My Child Is Shy; Should I Be Concerned?

A little shyness isn’t anything you should worry about. More than likely, your child is developing normally. Speech therapy could be helpful to boost their confidence, though. A speech pathologist could test them to determine whether they’re developing normally.

We’ll be able to determine if they need support to develop normal confidence. Otherwise, you should resist pathologizing them. Not all shyness is indicative of an underlying problem.

Let’s take a look at how shyness presents during different times of your child’s life. This can help you figure out if seeing a speech therapist might be beneficial.

Shyness Under the Age of 3

A shy child under the age of 3 might not be cause for concern. If they’ve got a problem with speaking, seeing a therapist early is crucial. Treating them young helps them to develop normally. Some shyness isn’t an issue.

However, you can look for certain behaviors to see if the behavior might be pathological. How do they respond whenever they’re playing with toys? If they seem intensely focused on it, they could have something wrong. Try taking a toy away from them and watch how they respond. When they’re focusing mostly on the object, it could indicate the need for a speech therapist. They should look at you just as much as the play object.

You can also pay attention to them whenever introducing a new playmate. If they seem particularly anxious, it could be a sign something’s wrong. Anxious playing could indicate they’re developing some sort of social issue.

Also, pay attention to how they’re playing. Simply moving an object back and forth isn’t normal, either. Healthy play should serve a purpose. For example, they might try building something out of blocks. Spinning them around in circles for hours isn’t a good sign.

Look at how they respond whenever you’re calling their name, too. They might get hyperfocused on playing, but they should still respond to their name. Try to see if they’re able to understand commands as well. Children should be able to understand what you’re asking them fairly quickly. Do they need to hear something multiple times to understand it? If you’ve got concerns about their understanding, you might want to see a professional.

Shyness During the Preschool Years

After the age of 3, most children get involved in regular social activities. You should have some feedback from teachers. And, you’ll have seen them playing with several different playmates as well. Issues speaking should become more evident by this point.

Most of the time, teachers will let you know if something is wrong. Try not to bring up concerns with a teacher unless it comes up organically. Otherwise, you might push your concerns onto them.

If your child seems shy, it might not be related to anything pathological. Most teachers have enough experience to understand when something is abnormal. A little shyness isn’t uncommon at this age.

However, some children act shy because they’re unable to understand verbal communication. That would be something you should see a professional about. Two key aspects to look for would be social motivation and social relatedness.

Does your child seem motivated to engage with other children? If so, they’re probably developing normally. And, can they understand what other children are saying to them? If not, then seeking professional help wouldn’t be unwise.

Shyness During Schoolage Years

Once they’re in kindergarten, a child’s personality really begins to shine. A little shyness at this age could just be part of their personality.

Usually, they’ll be able to tell you why they’re not interested in a social activity, too. Ask them how they’re feeling whenever they’re in a social situation. This can be helpful while screening them for potential speech pathologies.

You can look at how they like to play. Do they seem to prefer playing by themselves? If so, try talking to them about why they prefer playing like that. Their answers could help determine whether something might be wrong.

They might be dealing with some external issues. This is the age when bullying can become a problem. A shy child is much more likely to be the victim of bullying, unfortunately.

Learning how to interact with other children could help them. But, a reserved nature could also be indicative of a speech deficit. Speech therapy could help them overcome any issues like this, though.

Don’t assume shyness is a sign they’ve got a pathological issue. However, don’t dismiss it, either. If something feels like it’s wrong, seeing a child therapist wouldn’t hurt. They’ll be able to answer any questions. And, if there is something wrong, they can connect you with helpful resources too.


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