If you’re an introvert or live with chronic shyness, you know how it affects your own life, especially when it comes to making new friends. When you’re a parent, though, you might not be aware that it can affect your kid’s social life. If other children’s parents don’t know you or haven’t ever exchanged a simple “Hi!” with you, they may feel uncomfortable arranging a playdate with your own kid. Or they might innocently exclude your child because they don’t have your contact information.
Don’t panic, because I have a few tips to help you navigate the trials and tribulations of parenting when you’re an introvert at heart. It might be hard to believe, but it’s taken years for me to conquer my own parental shyness. I would walk into preschool meet and greets with my heart racing, not knowing what to say and overwhelmed when other moms seemed to know each other while happily chatting away. But rest assured — it does get easier! Here’s how …
1. Break the ice.
When you walk into a room full of other parents, don’t wait for others to greet you. Just say “hi” and if you don’t know anyone, introduce yourself. Tongue-tied? Ask how long they’ve been at the school, whether their child enjoys it or if they have more kids. When you’re a parent, you already know you have at least one major thing in common. You’ll be chatting in no time!
2. Take the first step.
If there’s a child your own kid feels closer to, make the effort to contact his or her parent either via a brief text, email, or phone call. Mention your child’s name and that you’d like to help them get together soon. Or if you bump into each other at a park or the mall, be the first one to say hello and mention that it would be great to arrange a playdate for the kids.
3. Don’t pressure yourself too much, but make an effort.
Instead of feeling that you have to make new friends so your own child can expand his or her social life, keep in mind that it’s all about really establishing a basic relationship with other parents so everyone feels comfortable when the kids decide to socialize.
4. Remember you’re not the only shy person in the world.
Other parents might feel just as overwhelmed and will appreciate you being the one to break the ice. So many of us feel anxious when meeting new people that you’d be surprised!
5. Get involved in your child’s school.
Volunteering at your kid’s school is a great way to help and meet other parents! Book fairs, Teacher Appreciation Day, building a garden, and bake sales are just a few opportunities to work along other parents and get to know them better. When you’re working as a team, it takes the pressure to be witty and interesting, so you might feel much more relaxed and at ease.