If your child is shy, you can feel like they’re missing out on a big part of their childhood. One of the best parts of growing up is running around with your friends, playing games, and using your imagination together. Obviously, you don’t want to force them to do those things, as that can make the whole activity feel like a chore. It’s for that reason that we’ve gathered these tips to help encourage your child to participate and have some fun. This is a great opportunity for kids to develop social skills that they will bring with them throughout their life, so it is important they don’t miss out. If you want a safe and fun environment to encourage your child to participate with others, come to Rebounderz Trampoline Park in Lansdale!
-Find the Heart of the Matter
The best way to find out why your child isn’t ready to participate with others is to ask them. Sit down and have a discussion to see why they’re shy, or what is making them uncomfortable, or what they may be afraid of. Even though it may be easy to hand-wave away their concerns, to them, this is their whole world. Hear them out. Let them work out their feelings about it. Then, once you have a good understanding of what worries them, you’ll be able to tackle the issue together. Try to ease their worries as much as possible. See what they would be comfortable with trying.
-Be Their Role Model
If you spend weekends cooped up watching TV, your child is more likely to want to emulate that. However, if you are engaging in hobbies on a regular basis, it will feel more normal to your child. Whether it’s a book club or a spin class, when you participate, your child will want to as well. Vary your activities to show them the range of different things that are out there. If that activity allows children to tag along, bring them along so they can see you interacting with others. Many kids are scared of the unknown, so when you show them there’s nothing to be afraid of, they’ll be more comfortable with trying new things.
If your kid doesn’t like to do anything without their friends, get them involved, too. Find out what activities their friends enjoy and sign them up to do that. Taking a small group to the park can be a fun way to get everyone active and playing together. You can also bring them to an activity center like Rebounderz to give them a place to interact with other kids their age in a safe environment.
If you have an older child already involved with an activity, ask them to take the shyer of your children under their wing so they can learn about it from someone they know. Whether it’s an art class or a basketball clinic, when you are participating with a sibling it can be a lot of fun. Not to mention, it will help their relationship grow and become stronger. Getting siblings to get along seems like an insurmountable task sometimes, but you’d be surprised what can happen when a younger kid asks their older brother or sister about something they’re passionate about.
-Start Off Slow
When your child agrees to try an activity, it’s important to keep it free of pressure. Starting a totally new thing is scary, no matter what age you are. If you maintain a low-key attitude toward whatever they are trying out, they won’t have the pressure of success or being the best weighing on them. If they are taking lessons, starting off once a week can be less threatening to a kid that has worries about participating. Then, as they get comfortable, you can increase the frequency to match their drive to participate.
-Give Them an Escape Plan
Not every activity is going to be a good fit, but it’s important your child feels comfortable enough to admit when they aren’t enjoying it. If they have tried several times and it just isn’t working, let them take a week off. If after that week they decide they want to go back, then that’s great. However, it may be a sign that a new activity might fit your kid’s interests. When you keep it low-stakes, your child will be more willing to try new things and they won’t have the fear of failure that prevents so many people from breaking out of their shells.
Kids, just like their adult counterparts, have a wide range of interests and skills. Not everyone is an athlete or a musical prodigy. Sit down with your child to discuss what they are interested in to find unique ideas for activities. If they’re obsessed with dinosaurs, a trip to the natural history museum where they can talk to the experts might be a perfect fit. If your child loves comic books, maybe a writing or art class would pique their interest. You would be amazed at the range of classes and activities are out there, outside the norm of team sports or band practice.
-Go With Them
Especially for young children, participation with parents is a great way to help your child find an activity they love. So many adults think back fondly on things they did with their parents as a kid, even if the hobbies didn’t stick around for life. Check for a mommy-and-me class, parent-child book club, or an all-ages cycling club. Local recreation centers often hold a wide range of classes suited specifically toward parents and children interacting together.
-Look Around You
Beyond activities and classes, there are many opportunities around you to volunteer and give back to the community at large. Whether it’s raking the leaves for a neighbor or helping out at the food pantry, you can foster a lifelong love of charity and giving back to others in your child. Not only does that go a long way toward helping your child be more comfortable participating in the world, it also helps them become a more empathetic person as a whole.
When your little one is preparing to start school, pretty much the only people they know are their own family. That can make school pretty scary and cause a shy kid to retreat into their shell. You can help them get used to spending time with other kids their age by setting up playdates to introduce them to potential new friends. This is especially helpful if they will be attending the same school, as it can give them both someone to look to if they get scared or nervous. Solid, lifelong friendships have been built out of playdates leading up to school.
Helping your child become more comfortable with participating — whether in a group, with a parent or sibling, or exploring something new on their own — has amazing benefits that can last a lifetime. Remember, keep it low-pressure, help them find something that fits their interests, and be creative with your suggestions. You never know what hobby or sport your child will take a liking to. At Rebounderz, we have many attractions that will spur your child’s imagination and get them participating. Whether they’re leaping into the foam pit or they’re living their superhero dreams on the Ninja Warrior course, they’re guaranteed to have safe fun. We hope to see you soon!