Have you ever experienced the awkward introduction of a timid child? You know, the kind where the kid looks everywhere but at you? She’s burrowing into her mother, burying her head, peaking out on occasion, speaking just barely above a whisper? I don’t know about you, but I see this all the time, and early in my parenting, I purposed to train confident kids who bless the people they meet.
I’m in a new season of life, with my oldest in law school, my youngest in middle school, and now I have new mission. I feel called to help the parent standing beside the timid child. As far as I can tell, there are two basic types: the embarrassed parent who tries to dismiss it or offers up an excuse for the withdrawn behavior, or the unknowing parent who doesn’t recognize there’s a problem because it’s so commonplace.
My heart aches for the parents, and quite frankly, it grieves for the kids. They do not understand why their hearts pound and why a sudden, sometimes crippling, insecurity grips them with a simple introduction.
One mom even told me that her son wouldn’t look at the doctor when asked how he felt. Another said her daughter wouldn’t answer the door when the doorbell rang. I even had a mom once say that her children couldn’t carry on a phone conversation without panic.
That’s nothing short of a crisis.
As parents, it’s our job to give our kids effective communication tools. So, in my quest to train confident kids, I came up with a weekly assignment that produced great fruit in my children and is now bearing fruit in other kids.
I am convinced that it can change a child’s life and alter the way they perceive themselves in relationship to other people.
Remember the moms I talked about with painfully shy kids? Well, after implementing this assignment, the same kids now look the doctor in the eye and explain what’s wrong, answer the door, and talk on the phone with confidence. I’ve even seen teens and pre-teens grow into effective communicators who can contact a place of business without hesitation and gather important information with respect and confidence.
Eager to know what it is? First, let me prescribe that it be done three times a week. Repetition is key. The more they practice, the more confident they will become. (Begin with role-playing and practice as a family before assigning this to them publicly.)
- With you watching, have your child approach someone they do not know (this could be a clerk at a store, a new person at church, a new friend in a club, etc.).
- Explain to them how to make strong eye contact (this means not to look away, look the person directly in the eye).
- Instruct them to extend their right hand firmly and direct. No wimpy handshakes (this goes for girls too).
- Have them memorize, “Hello, my name is_________________, what is your name? It’s very nice to meet you, have a great day.”
- When they report back, have them repeat the entire conversation, especially the person’s name. Nervousness = mind going blank. If they know they have to come back to you with a name, it will help them focus on remembering. The anxiety will eventually disappear.
After they master this, you can move on to what I like to call the “interview”: teaching them to move into a conversation after an introduction. But you’ll have to check back for a future post!
Know this, your child has something to say, and God wants them to say it with confidence.
Be sure to stop back and leave a comment, letting us know how it’s going!