Building Confidence In Shy Preschoolers: 5 Tips That Work

Dealing with an unfamiliar environment coupled with new people may be overwhelming for a shy child. Here are 5 tips to help your shy preschool kids!

Preschools have re-opened after two years– brand new books, school uniforms, superhero-themed lunch boxes and backpacks and the excitement is palpable. You are gearing towards a fresh, new academic year. But does your enthusiasm for starting a new school year get dampened by this one nagging question lingering in your mind?

Oh, but my child is so shy.

How will my shy preschool kid cope?

Shyness is a common attribute. Most of us feel shy from time to time. Many children outgrow this behaviour. As parents, we can help children overcome this. 

Being shy is a trait characterised by being self-conscious, wary or fearful. It takes root in childhood and is fairly common. Children at this age haven’t developed appropriate social or verbal skills. So, in this article, we discuss 5 essential tips that will help a shy preschool kid.

 Attributes Of Shyness:

A shy child might show one or more of the following behaviours:

  • Reserved
  • Hesitant
  • Sensitive
  • Prefers one’s own company
  • Nervous around new people or situations
  • Using gestures instead of words

Children who exhibit these characteristics have difficulty expressing their emotions and it can interfere with the child’s ability to socialise or make friendships. 

Children might view new situations or places as potential threats. A new classroom for example can be demanding for a shy preschool kid. Dealing with an unfamiliar environment coupled with new people may be overwhelming for a shy child.

As parents, you can mitigate this problem by watching out for a few triggers.

Parents want the best for their children. But sometimes unknowingly you might be saying or doing things that might come in the way of your child’s progress.

Here are some simple tips that you can start applying right away!

5 Tips To Help Shy Preschool Kids:

1. Model behaviour 

Robert Fulghum, the author of the famous book, ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, quoted:

 “Don’t worry that your children don’t listen to you, worry that they watch you.” 

Children are keen observers and love to imitate. When you exhibit confidence and take charge of your life, you become a role model for your child. This will enable confidence building. So, take a leaf out of Fulghum’s book and lead by example.

2. Grace and courtesy

Even if your child seems timid, always encourage your child to be polite and respectful towards others. Like saying “sorry” when they’ve accidentally hurt someone, “thank you” when a treat is offered, “hello or goodbye” while greeting, etc. Being a shy preschool kid should not be an excuse for being rude.

3. Creating social opportunities

Socialising helps children connect with peers while developing and practising their social skills. A group as small as one or two kids could be a viable option, to begin with. Arranging for one-on-one playdates is also a good idea. This ensures that interactions don’t feel forced.

In addition to this, participation in sports, music and movement might also benefit a shy preschool kid. They have a positive effect on the child’s cognitive and motor development and also provide social opportunities.

4. Praise and belief 

Give your child opportunities to excel at what they do best. Your child might love to make stuff with playdough or is creative with manipulatives and blocks. Be sure to cheer them on wholeheartedly.

Support your child in their anxious moments and give them the freedom to get comfortable at their own pace. This builds self-awareness. Have faith and nurture her confidence.

5. Encourage expression

Talk one-on-one about what your child is afraid of. Discuss emotions. There are all kinds of feelings and it is good to talk about them from time to time. Since children love stories, you could share instances where you felt shy, nervous or embarrassed and how you overcame it.

Remember that some children of this age may not be able to express much. But children are very perceptive. They might take some time, to listen, toss it around in their heads and express their thoughts when you are least expecting them.

Try Not To Do These:

Avoid labels

By labelling, you are putting children in boxes, ruining their self-esteem and leading them to believe in these labels. This affects how they perceive themselves and can have a profound influence on shaping their personalities. 

Growing up, kids might find it difficult to shake these labels off. Do you catch yourself saying- she is just shy – too often? Stop and reconsider.

Use unbiased statements like: 

It is alright she will take some time or 

She will play when she feels comfortable 

They are more sensitive and thoughtful.

Avoid comparing and critiquing:

Each one of us is unique. Children are no exception. But, we are brought up in a society of social expectations. Comparison with another child seldom motivates or sets an example for your child. It does more harm than good. 

You might see yourself succumbing to these pressures and judging your child, especially when you see another bold, friendly and outgoing kid. Watch out for these triggers and resist the urge to compare or worse, critique your child publicly. The last thing a shy preschool kid needs is to be put in the spotlight.

Why Being Shy Is A Good Thing? 

  • They do not seek attention
  • They are well-behaved
  • Shy children are great observers
  • They are good listeners
  • They are happy in their own company

Books On Shyness:

  1. You are not small by Anna Kang
  2. Too Shy to Say Hi by Shannon Anderson
  3. Ladybug The Shy Rescue Dog by Yogyata Suri 
  4. Too Shy for Show and Tell (Little Boost) by Beth Bracken and Jennifer A Bell
  5. Halibut Jackson by David Lucas
  6. Maya’s Voice by Wen-wen Cheng

Some of the above books are also available in Kindle format or YouTube read-along story format.


As with most things worth pursuing, you may not see instant results. Taking little steps each day can go a long way in ensuring that your children are comfortable in their skin and grow up to be the best version of themselves. But until then, be supportive and empathetic towards your child. 

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