Children with shy, inhibited temperaments tend to have insecurities, marked by social awkwardness and withdrawal, for instance. Children with this temperament become especially insecure in new situations. According to the American College of Psychiatrists, parents should respond by providing an understanding, consistent and appropriately protective environment.
Prepare for New Situations
Knowing that your child's insecurities tend to worsen in new situations helps you respond in a sympathetic, effective manner. Prepare your child for new situations by discussing them beforehand, allowing your child the opportunity to share his feelings. Help him problem-solve in advance and, if appropriate, have him role-play how he might respond. According to occupational therapist Denise Allen, children and adolescents respond well to stress management techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.
Routines help children feel secure and provide comfort in times of stress. Teach your child to complete tasks in the same order at bedtime to send signals to her body that it's time to relax and go to sleep. Routines in the morning give an insecure child something to focus on, helping her to avoid worry and insecurity. Should you recognize your child becoming insecure, remind her to focus on these comfortable routines.
Maintain Your Cool
According to the website Family Education, parents of insecure children tend to vacillate in their emotional response to the child -- from empathetic and undisciplined to overly strict and rigid. Maintain a facade of calm in the midst of your child's meltdown. Listen with empathy, but maintain boundaries. Use the broken record technique, repeating advice calmly a number of times to allow your child to really listen to what you have to say.
Sometimes an insecure child just needs an understanding ear. An appropriately empathetic parent listens to the child and helps him label his feelings. If the child is screaming that he does not want to go to school, for example, you can say, "I understand you are afraid. It's normal to be afraid in new experiences." Labeling the child's feelings will help him calm down and discuss his fears rationally. Help your child problem-solve managing his insecurities, rather than allowing him to avoid difficult tasks.
- "Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology"; Young Children In An Insecure Situation, Jean M. Arsenian; 1943
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists; Mental Health and Growing Up
- E-bility.com; Cool Karma - Relaxation for Children and Adolescents; Denise Allen; August 2002
- Family Education: The Highly Sensitive Child: Parenting Strategies
- Changing Minds: Broken record