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PlaygroundEquipment Blog
Friday, March 21, 2014

Simple Playtime in Playgrounds Can Make Shy Kids Sociable

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A community playground is your kid’s first stage. Make it count!  
What do Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Carrie Underwood, and Tom Cruise have in common? I’ll let you in on a little secret - they were once shy. However, they were able to overcome the shyness and bring out their hidden potentials. The key towards overcoming shyness? Spending quality time in playgrounds and having proper parental supervision and love to back you up.

Childhood shyness is normal, but if left unaddressed, could have a large effect on a kid’s development, particularly social development and skills. Severe shyness of kids in their early childhood may have a large effect on their social skills as this may be retained until they reach adolescence. The Shyness Breakthrough author and doctor Bernardo J. Carducci, PhD., explains that kids are born to be cautious in new situations. Shyness may be triggered by a number of factors such as strangers, crowded playgrounds, and even harsh experiences at home.

Recent studies show that self-proclaimed shy adults have increased to 50%, from 40% in 1970. In 1994, the National Co-morbidity Survey revealed that social phobia exists in 13.3% of Americans which makes it the third most prevalent psychiatric disorder. On the other hand, children approximately 80% of newborn children suffer extremes of timidity or shyness. Moreover, 75% of these shy children are expected to retain this attitude or personality as they reach adolescence. Accordingly, evidence shows that shyness may be inherited from parents or grandparents who also exuded shyness back when they were toddlers. Another interesting fact is that shyness may be related to the birth months of September or October, and physical attributes such as blue eyes, blonde hair, pale skin, and allergies, all correlated to families of inhibited children.

That little thing called Shyness
We have been shy even at one point in our lives, especially when we were kids. Looking in the eyes of a kid, you get to an unfamiliar place, a park, with your mom, and you find yourself gripping your mother’s dress tight. You see a smiling, friendly kid handing you a candy from across the playground, and the fear gets to you even deeper then you hide your face behind your mother’s dress. You see a crowded playground with numerous kids laughing and playing as their eyes wander off to your direction. You hear them laughing over things you cannot understand, playing toys you wish to play with too but you just resorted to crying. Shyness is normal in every kid especially when taken into an unfamiliar or new place such as residential playgrounds accessible to the public, when seeing unfamiliar faces, or when they see themselves different from most fit children, such as handicapped kids.

Shyness is a pain during preschool years when transition and children development are crucial. This is the stage where children are leaping toward ar eas of development including social, mental and physical skills. As such, it is important to understand how shyness should be applied and controlled either as a foe or a friend when it comes to your kids’ development.

Shyness is anxiety. It is an emotion whereby individuals feel a melange of emotions which are mostly opposing ones such as tension and pleasantness. Shyness is evident through the actions a child may portray. The usual shy kid does not engage in social conversations with other kids in the playground, likes to keep this to himself, kids getting bullied, silent and constantly seeks the presence of familiar people around. It should be noted however, that shyness is different from  social disengagement but are closely related behavioral patterns without the same internal tension felt by the shy kid.

Benefits and consequences
Knowing the true definition of shyness allows parents and teachers to address the issue properly. Depending on the developmental stage, children may be involved at different levels of shyness which require different types of intervention. AskDrSears.com explains that shyness may be a help or a handicap to a child depending on how it is handled.

Nothing is wrong with being shy, so don’t, never, point it out as a problem. The problem about people is they tend to romanticize shy kids as though they lack a sense of personality. But the truth is, shyness is a personality.

Most shy children are great observers and listeners. They are private people to which you could confide secrets to. For children exuding qualities of shyness, these kids are usually the obedient and respectful kids as they exude an accepting presence toward people of authority.

It is normal for parents to worry about their shy child, especially if you were raised with a sociable and people-pleasing personality. But don’t expect your child to become like you, you have to accept and deal with your kids’ development. For one, Thomas Alba Edison, a renowned scientist, admits to being extremely shy that he gave up hopes on becoming an actor. However, due to his exceptional skills in science and invention, he was able to create the light bulb and has made a large impact on society. By being shy, children do not conform to the norms and gain a sense of control over his needs. 

On the other hand, severe shyness may just as well be considered a problem as it comes with consequences. Shy kids are found to be at risk for psychiatric problems. Since shy kids tend to keep to themselves when playing with commercial playground equipment or toys at accessible playgrounds, they fail to establish social interaction among other kids which may evolve into the loss of self-confidence. Accordingly, shy kids are found to be less competent and are passive towards their peers making them the usual kids getting bullied by out-of-control kids. 

One of American Idol’s best singers, Carrie Underwood admits to being shy and being misinterpreted during her interview at theboot.com. According to her, the biggest misconception about her is her shyness is usually misinterpreted as being mean. However, she explains that she keeps private to herself and yet works on helping people understand that it’s not all about what they perceive. This American country singer rose to fame and landed the top spot in the Billboard with her first album. 

Like Carrie Underwood, Tom Cruise suffered from shyness as a child. Cruise suffered from dyslexia back when he was a kid but was able to overcome the disease and rose to being one of the hottest male stars in Hollywood. 

Generation Shy
With the emergence of social media today, shyness may just be eradicated. With the social media keeping everyone involved with peers they could relate to, people are introduced to a world where everyone could communicate and express themselves. People have become bold and  expressive of themselves and over their opinions. With blogs and the internet, they could express themselves without fear of being judged or misinterpreted.

Ways to Get Fit and Fit in
During the early years of development, particularly preschool years, playtime may just be the most effective tool to address the issue of shyness. Playtime helps children to develop social and mental skills while also channeling ways to get fit for children. With the right pieces of playground equipment, your child will learn the concept of sharing mingling with other kids which enhances his social skills and may well become fit children in no time.

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More than a play space, playgrounds sharpen your children’s skills. 

Bringing your child to residential playgrounds, church playground, indoor playground, or backyard playgrounds exposes your child to numerous kids allowing plenty of opportunity to practice social skills. Sandboxes, waterplay, and slides in the playground ensure that kids could have fun while having close contact with other kids for socialization. Some playground equipment even provide games for the brain such as the Tic-Tac-Toe complete with climbing walls and slides. The simple and common game Tic-Tac-Toe actually gives a kid basic knowledge on strategy, among other logical thinking skills.

Increased playtime allows kids to eliminate shyness while ensuring physical fitness and providing ways to get fit with fun involved. Through playground equipment, parents could view playtime as a step towards a healthy lifestyle and children development.

Other than engaging and supervising kids in the playground, here are some parenting tips that will surely help develop your kid out of his shell.
  • Understand and accept your child for who he is. Keeping track of his characteristics and interests builds the bond between the two of you and opens you to how he sees the things around. Knowing the root cause of issues enables you to become more aware of what solution to take.
  • If your child suffers from a disability, it would be wise to bring him to accessible playgrounds for children with disabilities. This way, your child will be open to a familiar set-up where he belongs.
  • Never speak for your child, let your child do the talking. Also, do not open every conversation with statements such as ‘she’s shy.’ These statements do not build the self-esteem of your child. Instead, it takes away the confidence that he could do things and the shyness they feel will be further intensified.
  • Reinforce their social skills through constant opportunities for playtime with other children, such as playing in sandboxes in residential playgrounds or the slides where social interaction is likely to happen.
  • Give constant compliments that express appreciation over the success or achievement of making a new friend in the playground or in school. This way, your child is motivated that socialization is a good thing which may be translated to his development as he grows.
A Healthy Mix of  Playtime and Openness
Shyness creates a great divide in the family. This trait affects a healthy home of openness and relationship between the parents and the child. Without an open communication in the family, problems usually arise frequently and may affect the overall dynamic of a happy home. This trait is common for most kids and yet is usually misunderstood. Learn how to understand the personality of your child. As parents, you should take the necessary steps like bringing the child to playground areas where playground equipment and other kids are present to build social skills. Do not force to change the personality of your child. Instead, hone it to the best that he can be.  

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