Shy children may have greater language skills than you think
If you're child's shy and less talkative than others, it doesn't necessarily mean he or she is delayed or language deficient, researchers say. (kaarsten/Shutterstock.com)
Published Saturday, February 8, 2014 9:41AM EST
New research has emerged that may comfort parents who fret that their toddler has delayed or deficient language skills. Because really, they could just be shy.
After evaluating 816 toddlers in Colorado, researchers from the University of Colorado and the University of Connecticut concluded that just because children were less verbally responsive, it wasn’t for lack of comprehension.
They understood what was being said and were capable of speech, but were merely reluctant to respond.
"Our findings suggest that inhibited behaviors like shyness don't hamper language acquisition overall but instead relate specifically to how toddlers express themselves through words," the study says.
For their study, published in Child Development, researchers asked parents of 816 children to file reports on their children's language progress at home, at 14, 20 and 24 months.
Scientists also evaluated the children at home and during lab visits, by asking them questions and gauging their comprehension and speech skills.
The findings showed that girls showed higher levels of shyness and language skills compared to boys.
To encourage shy children, researchers suggest trying to develop self-confidence, social skills and independence. One easy way is to arrange for playdates with other toddlers.
Better yet, enrolling tots in preschool has been shown to be a highly effective way of speeding up their language skills, particularly when they're learning with older, more developed kids.
Another study out of Ohio State University found that preschool children with poor language skills showed marked improvement when they were placed in classrooms with higher-achieving classmates.