As a shy or introverted kid, you may have felt that pull to conform to the extrovert mindset.
Messages like ‘just get out there,’ ‘push yourself’, or ‘get out of your comfort zone’ do little to reduce the butterflies that thump in the chest of the quieter child.
For me, shyness meant hiding behind my mother’s legs whenever she spoke to another adult. Or crying at the side of the tennis courts when my parents dared to spend a whole 45 minutes away from my side.
These days, my friends would not use the word ‘shy’ in a top 10 list of adjectives about me (now that would be a fun game to play). Yet the memories of those awkward moments are still vivid in my mind.
My two kids are fairly confident, but still have their own moments of shyness.
Taking part in team sports is often cited as a way to help your child feel more comfortable in group environments. But even that still sounded a little nerve wracking to me.
I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted my eight-year-old son signing up to a contact sport – this filled me with fear, even though he does love to watch the NRL.
But when I dug further, I learnt there are lots of different ways kids can play Rugby League with non-contact options like tag, or League Stars where they learn the skills to play. All of these versions of the game are underpinned by values of mateship, strength, resilience and courage, which resonate with me.
Junior Rugby League, which has the tagline of creating a ‘League of Strong and Confident Kids’, is an inclusive game that aims to help break barriers for shy kids to build their confidence.
Think learning fundamental movement, skills, teamwork, and making friends that can last a lifetime rather than scrums and tackles. And mixed boys and girls teams (up until age 12). Find your local club and remember, sport is for all kids, not just the outwardly confident ones.
If you were a shy child too, these are the 11 things you know to be true before you discovered your confident self…