SCARSDALE, N.Y. – For many Scarsdale and Eastchester children, the idea of new classes, parties and group activities can be daunting. For parents, seeing their children struggle in these environments can be even harder.
Zineb Truta, the owner of Great Play in Scarsdale, understands the struggles shy children face, and has advice for families to help the kids become more outgoing. At her gym, she helps children build the confidence they need to enjoy group activities.
“We help to prepare [children] for other social settings, to help them not feel inadequate in situations where they don’t have to,” she said. “Our coaches are trained to pay attention to those children that are a little bit more shy and reserved.”
It’s important to assimilate timid children slowly into these activities, and to give them time to acclimate themselves to their new peers and surroundings. Parents should never force their children to participate, and may find it beneficial to let them watch from the sidelines at first.
“While parents may feel isolated and embarrassed if they have the only kid not participating in a class, we know there have been dozens before them,” she said. “A shy child means they are uncomfortable in their environment. Once they’re comfortable and open up, they have more fun, and it helps with socialization in the future.”
At Great Play, Truta said, the coaches know the children by name and offer consistent positive reinforcement to help them feel more at ease at the gym. If they see children who are struggling with shyness, they go out of their way to communicate and interact with them so they feel more comfortable. The coaches also provide classes that include parents, so children can have a support system.
“We encourage parents to arrive early, so children have a chance to warm up to their environment and get a little more comfortable,” Truta said. “More confident children lead to more confident adults.”