My son Heinel is a very shy boy. He gets pretty stressed out on birthday parties, weddings, school programs and other social events because it means meeting strangers and going to an unfamiliar place. But he was slowly able to get past that. Today I will share with you some ways that helped my son to relax and enjoy social events:
1. If your child is terrified to go somewhere, ask him what scares him the most, then address his fear.
My son usually says he does not like birthday parties because he gets shy with other kids and their parents. We tell him that it is alright if he does not want to play with them and if he really feels shy towards the adults, he need not talk but just have to smile. This makes Heinel feel that we understand him and we respect how he feels by not forcing him to do something he is not ready to do.
2. Go to the venue earlier than the time of the actual event.
Arriving the same time as everybody does can be very overwhelming to children because they see strangers and unfamiliar environment all at the same time. Arriving earlier will give them time to have a feel of the place, and explore the vicinity of the area without bumping into other guests. He gets to see slowly how people starts coming in and saying hi to him one by one as oppose to arriving later and have several people greet them at once.
3. A week before the event, prepare your kids by talking to them about it.
For our son, letting him know in advance allows him to have time to absorb the idea that for that weekend, we will not be going to the mall. The best method is to show him the calendar and point the date of the event. Then everyday, as I remind him, I show him the calendar again so he can see how many days more before we go.
4. Set a positive mood for the event.
Whether it is a birthday party, wedding, family get together; it is best to create a positive picture on his mind like telling him what is in store for him such as magicians, puppets, yummy food, balloons, etc.. set the mood that the place is fun.
5. Be a friend.
Go around the area or join games with him. Do not scold him for being shy, it is not his fault after all.
6. Bring a favorite toy.
Venues are new environments and kids need to feel secure. Bringing his favorite toy can help him feel at ease. It can also start a conversation with a friend or an adult. Before, when we attend birthday parties, Heinel warms up only to people who talks to him about his toy. Also, if he really does not want to participate in the party, having a toy will distract him so you and dad can join the activities.
Just like in anything, all our kids need is a little time. He will not be super shy forever. Just give them time to come out of their shells. I do hope my tips will be of help to you. Feel free to share yours too!