7 phrases to help your shy child feel brave

1. "Let's get there a little early to settle in."


Watching our kids develop social skills can be really hard. We want so badly for them to thrive and feel confident and make friends, but at the end of the day it's not something we can do for them—they have to learn the hard lessons on their own.

Watching a child struggle with social anxiety can bring up memories of our own struggles over the years; what it felt like to join a new school and not know anyone, or the pain of being made fun of by a mean kid. So it's easy to worry when you notice your child acting shy.


Take a deep breath, though. While some children are naturally more hesitant socially than others, there are some things we can say to help them along.

Here are seven phrases to try when your child is feeling shy:

1. "Let's get there a little early to settle in."

Walking into a busy room full of noisy children can be overwhelming, especially for a child who is feeling shy. Try arriving at school or a party early so that your child is one of the first ones there. This will make it so much easier for them to find their place, whether it's playing with a friend or playing quietly on their own.

2. "Your friend Jane will be there."

Giving your child a heads up regarding who they can expect to see will help them mentally prepare. Of course, it's excellent if they have a friend they're comfortable with, but even if none of their close friends will be there, knowing what to expect is comforting.

If they won't know anyone, you can prepare them for that too. Warning them that there will be all new children at an event will help them not to panic when they realize there's no one there they know.

3. "You can stand with me until you're ready to go play."

Let your child stand with you until they're ready to go play, but try chatting with other adults and going about your business at the same time.

You don't need to ignore your child, of course, but being a little "boring" can help encourage them to go explore on their own or join the other children playing. If you make staying with you too fun or desirable, your child is a lot less likely to venture out on their own.

4. "I see you're not ready to go in yet. Would you like to hold my hand?"

It can be so tempting to tell our child, "Just go play!" when they're clinging to us at a park or birthday party. It's natural to want to see your child running and laughing with the other children, but it's essential to meet your child where they are. Telling them to "go play" can seem like a rejection of what they are feeling, of the legitimate fear they may be experiencing.

On the flip side, if you make too big of a deal of their anxiety, if you hold them and fuss over them, they may feel like they really aren't safe to go play, like there is something to be afraid of.

5. "You seem anxious."

Your choice of words is important here. You can acknowledge your child's feelings of anxiety without labeling them as "shy." If our child hears us repeatedly call them "shy," they will internalize this as part of their identity. It will become a part of them, of how they see themselves.

Instead of labeling your child, even if you think they're not listening, recognize the specific feelings they're experiencing. Just naming what they're feeling for them, without offering a solution, is often enough. If they see that you understand what they're feeling, and more importantly, that you accept it, they will overcome the anxiety more quickly, as they won't be facing the added pressure of pleasing you.

6. "What are some things you might like to talk about with your friends?"

To some children, chatting with friends comes naturally, but if this isn't the case for your child, help them learn conversational skills just as you help them to learn other social graces, like saying please and thank you.

Help your child think of three or four things they enjoy talking about, and brainstorm a few conversation starters they might use with other children. Similarly, practice what they might say if they want to invite another child to play. The more they practice with you, the more comfortable they will feel in real life situations with other kids.

7. "Which friend from school would you like to invite over?"

Often shy kids prefer close friendships with one or two children over more casual friendships with a bunch of other kids. You can help them develop these close relationships through organizing playdates with the children they seem more comfortable with.

If your child can't tell you who they might want to have over, ask their teacher if there's anyone they enjoy playing with or eating lunch with at school. Having even one or two strong friendships can go a long way toward helping a child feel more confident in social situations.

These simple phrases can help you guide your child in navigating through feelings of shyness. More important than the specific words you use, though, is your tone. It's important to keep the pressure off. The last thing you want to do is make your child feel ashamed of themselves for their feelings of anxiety.

You don't have to baby them, but you can be a calm support, an anchor in an otherwise scary social situation. Your child will sense your acceptance of their feelings and will feel more confident if you can remain calm, rather than trying to push them into social interactions before they're ready.

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14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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