Good for you for anticipating the challenge of school before you're actually walking her there for her first day.
There are playful ways to help a child with shyness. At home, when it's just you and her, you can initiate Special Time, which is dedicated play time when you tell her that you will do whatever she wants to do, and you set a timer so that you and she both remember that you don't get to answer the phone or do anything else besides pay loving attention to her, and follow what she wants to do. If she wants to make pancakes in the middle of the afternoon, you make pancakes in the middle of the afternoon.
This helps to strengthen a child's confidence and sense of closeness with you: that confidence needs to be her strong base from which to adventure. Sometimes when children have had early health challenges, or a difficult birth, or early separation from their parents that couldn't be helped, it instills some fear that is totally outdated now, but because it sits in her memory unchanged from that earlier time, it still feels paralyzing to her. Special Time helps her to gain more confidence.
Second, you can play games about "seeing and being seen." Good ones are hide and seek, and peek a boo. Sometimes a child will hide under covers, and you can look for them and not find them and they laugh and laugh. When you do find her, act playfully surprised and frightened--"ohhh! don't look at me! Yikes! Don't let me see your eyes!" This puts her in the powerful role and you in the playfully frightened role in the eye-contact department, and the more laughter she has, the faster her confidence will build. This is going to be a good set of games for her for some weeks, maybe months, as she gains her sense of herself.
Third, when she's out in public and faced with a stranger, gently encourage her out from behind your leg, or gently encourage her chin to come up. Don't insist that she say anything or do anything, but do say, "you could take a look at Mr. Williams." Be gentle. Be warm. She needs to feel the possibility of looking, but needs not to be forced to look. If you are gentle and slow enough at this, relaxed and kind, she may be able to cry about not wanting to look. Listen to her crying. Just listen. Don't talk much. Don't reason with her. Don't get busy trying to make this look OK to others. Just put your arm around her and keep gently saying, "You could take a peek at Mr. Williams." The crying she does will help to flush the feelings of fear out of her system, so she can be friendlier soon. She's very shy, so several good long cries, with you supporting her by listening, but still saying that you know she can take a look, will help her flush out the fears and find the courage to act more confidently in the world.
We have some booklets, Listening to Children, that are very helpful in learning what to do to increase a child's confidence. You will find them here. And this second URL is for an article on helping children with shyness. It contains a story that will illustrate the power of listening to your daughter cry her shyness away, with your support.
When I went to school, I was shy too. I would think my mom tried to help me. I just had to grow out of it. I am 17 and still extremely shy. She might just have to meet other kids, and be around people to become outgoing. Or she might be one of the people who will always be shy, like me.
Hi Melanie. I am student from the University of Santo Tomas here in the Philippines. I am currently taking up the program, Bachelor of Education major in Special Education.
I think it would help if you expose your child to places where in he or she would get to interact with other people particularly to those of his or her age. Accompany him or her to those places so that your child would feel secure. Furthermore, bringing your child to places such as day care centers or play places while exposing him or her to his or her peers would be a good thing to do because a child feels more comfortable working with or being with people close to his or her age.
I also advice that you seek for professional help. You and your child may go to a child psychologist.
I have tips for you in helping your chil with peer relation.
Parents get their children play with other children. Monitor play. Suggest strategies to use in approaching other children. Find playgroups for your child. Encourage your child to play. Praise your child for signs of responsiveness. Teach friendship skills indirectly through puppetry, role-playing and stories.
You might try using a picture book as a vehicle to help her discuss her fears. While not about social anxiety per se, "Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows: Helping Children Adjust to Change" address issues of fear and anxiety about new situations.The story centers on Harry,a caterpillar that has a fantastic life full of games, friends, school and leaf eating. He is stunned when, one day at caterpillar school, he learns that he is expected to build a chrysalis and become a butterfly. Harry vows to remain a caterpillar forever, as his friends build their chrysalises and move on. Eventually, Harry learns to accept change as a necessary part of life, and joins his friends as a butterfly. There are tips in the back of the book to help parents and educators use the story as a vehicle to help kids talk about their feelings about change, and teach them coping strategies to manage their anxiety.