Shyness as an emotion, which usually develops to help individuals, especially children
cope with new surroundings or external stimuli.
It is actually a mix of various emotions like fear, apprehension and even tension at
times. The characteristics that expose a child's shyness to an outsider maybe a reduced or
soft tone of voice, hesitant or trembling speech and the child usually avoids direct eye
to eye contact with an outsider. The shyness in children may vary during different
developmental stages in their life. For example during infancy, fearful shyness maybe
portrayed as a response to meeting new people where as the child grows older and becomes
around 4 to 5 years of age, shyness in the form of self-consciousness is portrayed. In
many cases, children tend to feel shy in social encounters where they are made the center
of attention. However changes in the environment and pressures at play school or primary
school are also factors attributed to a child's shyness.
Individual differences in shyness
As we all know, no two children can be alike and this dissimilarity in
children results in individual differences in shyness. Or to be explained in simpler terms
some children are shyer than others, while some are less shy than their friends or
counterparts. Certain children react to their changing environment more than others do,
where as certain children may selectively respond to only certain changes and not respond
to any other changes.
Shyness to a certain extent is also inherent and inborn in us. Our
culture and race determines our shyness to a certain extent. Heredity is also used to
determine the extent of shyness in a child. At many times the emotion of shyness in an
adopted child is closely linked to his biological mother's emotions and feelings. Another
aspect that contributes greatly to a child's shyness is the family background, environment
and social situations, which are faced by the child. If the child has been brought up in a
closed, conservative and narrow-minded Indian family, then the likelihood that the child
will be shy is very great. Some parents in an effort to make their children overcome their
shyness force them to participate in activities with other children and force them into
interactions with different people. However this behavior from the part of the parents
only strengthens the shy tendencies of the child. But the basic deduction reached by all
child psychologists and researchers is that genetics plays a very small role, but to a
certain extent does determine shyness in a child. It is mainly the influences to which the
child is exposed in the early stages of his life from 3 to 6 that determine shyness in
When does shyness pose as a serious problem ?
Shyness is a very normal emotion that helps children adjust themselves
to different surroundings and situations. For that temporary period of time when the child
is shy, he crawls into a little nutshell of his own and gains confidence about himself and
tends to feel secure. Slowly as the child gets familiar with the surroundings, his shyness
gradually decreases. This behavior is absolutely normal and should not worry most parents.
However if the child continues to exhibit extreme shyness for no
particular reason and overtime, the shyness does not reduce, then that matter does become
of important concern. Children that tend to remain shy in their early childhood may
develop certain traits that stick with them throughout life. They are reserved and do not
like to play with others. They may develop a poor image of themselves and acquire a low
self-esteem. Other children may also judge a shy child as a less friendly person or as
less caring. This is not necessarily true about the shy child but it is a way of life, as
others perceive the shy child to be such an aloof person.
As a result of which, peers may stop playing with the shy child and
neglect him and as the child grows up, his social developmental skills will get hampered.
Children who are extremely shy during their childhood and continue to be shy in their
adolescence, generally feel lonely and even depressed at times.