A study involving 152 children aged 7 and 8 examined the phenomenon of shyness. Researchers evaluated their behavior, physiological responses, and self-reported nervousness during a speech task. Results indicated that around 10% of the children consistently exhibited high stress levels and long-term shyness, suggesting a connection to temperament. Additionally, approximately 25% of initially non-shy children demonstrated increased social stress reactivity during the speech, highlighting that while speech-induced shyness is common, individuals with a shy temperament may consistently find attention stressful across different situations.

Pérez-Edgar emphasized that shyness, often overlooked in comparison to outgoing personalities, is not inherently problematic. Extroversion tends to be favored in Western cultures, but it is crucial to acknowledge the diverse range of traits and their unique contributions. Pérez-Edgar underscored that anyone can experience shyness in specific circumstances, and highly shy individuals can lead fulfilling social lives, albeit in a more subdued manner. Approximately half of persistently shy children may develop anxiety disorders, impacting their academic performance, social interactions, and activities. Intervention is necessary, and families should be attentive to signs of anxiety, particularly in shy children. It’s important to note that not all shy children are the same, and many of them grow up to be well-adjusted adults, highlighting the variability within shyness.

To address shyness-related avoidance, Dr. Erika Chiappini advises parents to describe behavior and normalize feelings instead of labeling the child as shy. Gradual prompts for engagement can be beneficial, as avoidance can worsen future anxiety. Seeking support from a pediatrician or school counselor is recommended, as various therapies, including medication and non-medication approaches, effectively assist children and teenagers with anxiety.