Parents with shy toddlers may be concerned about their children not being able to socialise. It can be a worrying time as parents fret about how they will manage at school and long for them to have friends their own age. It is possible, however, to encourage your shy toddler to socialise with other children and it does not need to be a worry.
Some tips to encourage your child to be sociable.
Firstly, it's very important not to over exaggerate the situation. Children are very good at picking up on parents' anxieties which can make situations worse and so do not worry excessively. Many toddlers do not 'play' properly, at this age children often just play alongside each other and don't particularly interact whilst playing and so there is no need to panic if your child is happily looking at one toy whilst other children are fighting over another.
Having play dates can be a good way to encourage children to socialise. A play date in your own home is a good way to ease you child into socialising as they will feel most comfortable in familiar surroundings. Only invite one friend round at first so that your child does not feel intimidated and whilst the friend is round be calm and laidback. Enjoy talking to the friend's parent and let your child see that having a friend round to play and share toys is perfectly fine and not at al frightening. Your child will pick up on your laidback attitude and see that you are enjoying it and so they will be more likely to enjoy it too. The first play date may not be a huge success but gradually your child will get used to it and will be begin to interact as they will recognise the friend and see that the situation is not one to be afraid of.
Soft play centres may be intimidating for a shy child but they are a great way to get children to interact. If you go to one during the day they are usually quieter and it is a chance for a toddler to explore. It is difficult for a 2 year old not to find going down a slide or climbing up blocks great fun and the buzz they will get from doing fun activities will sine through and help them to come out of themselves. They will be more likely to talk to other children and they will also be interested in what other children are doing which can be a great way to stimulate socialising.
Sometimes children can be shy and clingy because their parents are with them. Once they attend a nursery or see a chidminder they cannot hide behind mummy's legs anymore and they have no choice but to interact with others. Nursery teachers will have experienced a shy child before so will have lots of tips that they can offer you and will know how to communicate with your child to encourage them to join in.
There are many books available which talk about friendships and playing. Often children are able to accept ideas once they have seen them in story format. If you read a book like this with your child they may be more willing to spend time with other children as it will help them to understand friendships and how they form.
Do not criticise
It is important that you do not lose your patience and result to criticising your child. Sighing and asking your child why they would prefer to bury their head on your knee rather than run around with a friend will do nothing to help your child only batter their self esteem. Always remain calm and don't go over the top with encouragement, your child will come round in their own time. If you begin to criticise then it will have negative impacts upon your child.
A shy toddler is very common and it is usually nothing to be concerned about at all as they are developing their self conscious and may be afraid to leave your side. Gentle encouragement and a patient attitude will help immensely.