A message for parents with shy children.

As a young girl I vividly recall crying when someone I didn’t know looked at me.

I hated having to speak to strangers and even hated having to say hello to those that I knew.

Being a shy child is very hard; and not just on the child.

I’m sure my parents thought I was quite rude/anti-social for not being able to say hello to their friends.

It’s not that I was being a little shit on purpose, I REALLY didn’t feel comfortable.

In hindsight I think it’s because I didn’t feel at home in my own shell so it was hard for me to step out of it.

Sensitivity often goes hand-in-hand with shyness and it certainly was the case for me.

kids change use

Isn’t it amazing the difference 26 years can make?

As a child I remember that even when I wasn’t really being told off I still used to cry. In fact I used to cry a lot, especially when I saw baby lambs bleat out for the mothers they had lost.

I couldn’t stand to hear our pet lambs cry out for milk so I used to rush up to them as soon as I woke up to make sure that they were okay.

It’s incredibly hard being a sensitive child and unless you’ve been one or have been teased for crying ‘over nothing’ then it’s hard to explain.

All my life I have heard ‘what are you crying about now’ or ‘why are you crying?’.

Most of the time I had no idea, it was like my soul was so full of sadness and just overflowed.

I have to clarify that I had THE happiest upbringing with amazing parents and siblings. They aren’t the reason why I used to burst into tears.

Some of us are just born overly sensitive.

And while I’d like to lie and tell you that we get over it and that we now have thick skin I can’t.

Once a sensitive soul always a sensitive soul.

In saying that, over the years I’ve had to cope with some devastating losses and heart breaks so I have had to grow a few protective layers.

Yes these layers help but sadly there are days when they just don’t cut it.

But most importantly I have a message to parents with shy or sensitive kids….

PLEASE accept them for who they are.

They don’t cry or get upset over ‘nothing’ just to piss you off.

They really can’t help it.

And please, as a favour to me, don’t tell your child off for crying, it doesn’t help.

Were you a shy child? Or do you have a shy child?

How do you tackle it?


  1. Thank you so much for this. I have a shy and sensitive child and I just had never realised that the two features can go together. Thank you for helping me to understand my child better (from your adult perspective).

  2. soul to soul here em! … connecting on a deeper level!
    many creative people are sensitive and shy!
    I was always sensitive, quiet, shy, miss goody two shoes and a recluse! … it’s why I paint and write it all out of me!… it allows my boldness to shine through into a different media!
    many coping skills achieved over the years, but I do still have anxiety when there is a social occasion! …
    I actually feel ok about myself! … I accept that this is my basic nature and love to be left alone! … then I am a happy chappy!
    one can be flip or glib and is a cover up for something more sensitive!
    thankyou and cheers to you em! love m:)X

  3. I was a shy child, and my mum used to say that people would find me rude because I wouldn’t make small talk with them, I’d just murmur and that was it. It wasn’t until I went to a private school for 6th form with mostly boys in and only 40 girls, and found my place where I was more visible in all the activities and subjects I was good at.

    Now people can’t shut me up and noone would say I was shy. I think underneath I probably still am, but I’m a lot more confident in myself and can carry off a confidence even if underneath I’m trembling. I think it helps that once I’d got past secondary school I just found I didn’t really care what people thought and could shrug it off. If you can do that it really helps.

    I do wonder what our son will be like though. He takes a while to get to know people, but then with other people he just seems to get on with them straight away. but he is definitely an observer and a child who weighs things up in a room before going further in and joining in (or not).

  4. Beautifully said Em! We grow up believing that sensitivity is a flaw. As we grow into ourselves we realise that sensitivity is as much a curse as it is a wonderful gift – we are more emotionally perceptive and do indeed need to grow protective layers – that’s only because we posses raw natural empathy – you can’t teach empathy – you either have it or you don’t. Great advice Emily – shy, sensitive children grow up into kind, considerate, compassionate, giving human beings… and there ain’t nothin’ flawed about that 🙂 Xx

  5. I’ve always been shy and have never managed to totally overcome it. My parents were very over protective and still are in some ways. My mother had several of my teachers telling her that if she didn’t push me more ( into activities such as sports, debating, girl guides etc) she was setting me up for problems and not coping with life as an adult. And I have to admit that when I’ve been struggling with some pretty tough battles with depression and anxiety and feeling like I haven’t amounted to much career wise, I sometimes wonder if they were right. Sigh. Even Mick believes that I should have been forced to do sports and insists on it for our boys. Luckily they are not shy at all, but my middle boy is VERY sensitive.Anyway, I think I could write an epic about this topic and clearly need to write my own blog post! Loved it!
    PS. It’s hard to imagine you being shy!!

  6. My oldest is very shy. She has got better as she gets older, but she is still sensitive and gets upset easily. My husband was similar as a child – in year 7 his teachers were concerned he was a selective mute. He grew out of it, and while he is still an introvert, he is quietly confident in public situations, and not afraid to stand his ground on his beliefs. When parenting her, we try to give her strategies to help her cope with situations, such as wave a hand rather than talk. She will now say her name and about her school if she is asked by someone she doesn’t know. I’ve seen her grow so much.

  7. Some of us just have hearts on our sleeves and leaky eyes.

  8. Lovely post Em. I was fairly shy as a child and I would say I’ve never really grown out of that! You just get better at hiding it perhaps x

  9. I was never a shy child so I am finding it a bit tricky to learn how to deal with my sensitive girl. It is a big learning curve and I have been trying to let her know that it is ok to be shy, it isn’t a negative thing. But somedays can be hard.

  10. The world needs sensitive souls. My Miss 5 isn’t all that shy but she’s still quite sensitive and cries a lot. But she has the most loving hearts in the world and I wouldn’t change a thing! Popping over today from the Digital Parents Blog Carnival.

  11. My eldest is shy & my youngest stepson is sensitive so I can understand where your coming from. I am tolerant & accepting of it, but many don’t understand. Although I wasn’t sensitive, I was very compassionate so would cry over many things & still get easily teary now. Were all different I guess, wouldn’t be any fun if we were all the same. But I agree, no sense getting angry.


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