Nothing upsets an introvert like change. For someone who loves routine and the quiet predictability of life, moving unsettles and robs the introvert person of their solitude and security.
It’s even more difficult if you, as a parent have a shy child and find your family in a new address.Your fifth grade daughter hides out in her room, rearranging her sock drawer. Your second grade son digs in his heels when he sees the school bus because it takes him to NEW and STRANGE people in his life. What’s a mom to do?
Below are several tips for parents of elementary students to jump start your child’s new life:
1) Be patient. Everyone warms up to people in their own time. Give your quiet child time to test the waters. If he doesn’t want to go to the new Batman movie with a kid in the neighborhood, don’t make a stink about it.
2) Be in the background. Often hovering turns a child off and they do the opposite of what you think they should do. Offer different kinds of scenarios and wait and see what appeals to her. It’s more humiliating to a child to feel like Mama has to gather up new friends because he or she can’t.
3) Alert: If a child suggests an activity such as Scouts or an art class, try to accommodate. Often the shy child will make friends easier if there’s a structured setting where they don’t have to sit and talk but can be doing an activity.
4) Be hospitable. When your child finds a new friend, open up your home to the new friend. Often a casual….”We’re having pizza and trying out the new Wi game, why don’t you invite McKenzie to join us?” may trigger an enthusiastic response in your child. Set up “spontaneous” activities that a new friend would enjoy.
5) Talk to your child’s teacher. In one of my daughter’s elementary classrooms, the teacher paired a popular, kind student to befriend the new student. If the teacher doesn’t have such a program, suggest she might want to start the Buddy program. If pitched well to a classroom, it can actually be status to be a Buddy.
It’s hard for many kids to move and the most difficult for the shy child. Fortunately, making friends is a learned skill and with some coaching even your quietest child will be asking if their new buddy “can eat over toninght?” That’s sweet music to a worried mother’s ears, and with patience it will happen!
I’d love to hear comments from moms, teachers, youth leaders and school principals. How have you been able to encourage a shy child to make friends in a new town. Please leave you comments here.