As he got a bit older and would go to sleepovers, participate in Boy Scouts and sports, and interact with more adults, he was increasingly involved in situations that required he introduce himself and speak up. This was not a natural area of comfort for him at the time. “Did you happen to see the hockey finals in the Olympics? Over the next few years, I can’t tell you the number of people who remarked to me, “Your son is so polite and poised. I was really impressed with the way he introduced himself.” Of course that made me feel proud, but also it gave me a great sense of comfort that he had mastered one of the most important skills anyone can have — the ability to confidently meet someone new and start a conversation. When my son was little, he was shy and somewhat reserved in new situations. Unlike his older sister who would immediately jump into a new group at birthday parties or chat it up with my adult friends, my son would hold back and remain quiet until he felt more comfortable. I knew mastering this skill would provide immediate positive results and give him a sense of self-assurance.
For anyone who is reserved, shy, or feels uncomfortable in social situations, starting a conversation can be overwhelming. You feel self-conscious and awkward, and often the fear and anxiety is triggered just anticipating the situation. Choose a few that resonate with you, write them down, and keep them in your wallet or purse for those times when you are in new social situations.1. During our talk, I taught him to smile, look people directly in the eye, extend his hand, and have one or two questions or comments handy to engage the person he was meeting. If you know something positive or interesting about the person you are meeting, bring that up. I reminded him it would be uncomfortable the first few times he did this, but in time it would feel more natural and easy.
Where some kids were obviously confident speaking to anyone, my son was simply more reserved and reticent to start a conversation, especially with an adult. I remember talking with him about this and discussing how important it is in certain situations, especially when meeting adults, to confidently introduce yourself and make a bit of small talk.