When Your Child... Feels Shy About Greeting People

2-min. video | Open Door For Parents with Dr. Eileen

(106 sec. Video transcript at bottom)

This week’s video is about handling those first few seconds of interaction with a friend or potential friend. For shy kids, this can be a tough moment, but having a game plan and some practice can help. This is NOT about having to turn in to bubbly extravert! It is about communicating, “I like you, and I’m happy to see you!”

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Video Transcript

Hi! Welcome to Open Door for Parents where I share ways to support your child's feelings, friendships and mental health.

I'm Dr. Eileen. Today I want to talk about when your child feels shy about greeting people.

A greeting is the first few seconds of social contact. When kids are feeling shy, they may look down or look away to avoid greeting someone. They’re focused on their own discomfort, but the unintended message they’re sending is: Stay away! I don’t like you, and I don’t want anything to do with you!  That's not how they are feeling, but that is what they are communicating.

If this sounds like your child try having them count how many greetings happen among kids at the start of school just to see how common they are.

Next teach them the steps to a friendly greeting:

  • Smile to show you’re happy to see the other person.

  • Make eye contact.

Eye contact is an invitation to connect. Kids who feel uncomfortable looking someone in the eye, can try looking at people’s forehead, between the eyebrows. From a distance, that looks the same as eye contact.

  • Say, “Hi!” and the person’s name.

Saying the name makes the greeting more personal.

Practice friendly greetings with family members, and then try them with friends.

Kids who struggle with greetings often don’t want to draw attention to themselves, but not greeting people is what stands out.