I have heard this quote too many times to count as a young child puts his head on his mother's shoulder, hangs on to her leg, or stands quietly beside his mother with a "shy smile" on his sweet little face.
So what is shyness? Merriam-Webster defines it as "feeling nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people; showing that you are nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people; tending to avoid something because of nervousness, fear, dislike, etc."
I am forever grateful that, soon after I became a mother, someone was kind enough to explain to me that shyness was just a cover-up for rudeness. That 2 year old who won't say "thank-you" to his hostess for a delicious meal is, in fact, being rather self-centered. He is thinking of his own feelings rather than the feelings of someone who may have spent hours or all day preparing for her guests so that they could enjoy a meal together. A little child who won't introduce himself is being rude to an adult or young friend who is taking an interest in him.
Philippians 2:3 says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
Luke 6:31 - "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
Let's teach our children to consider others, to be kind, and to focus on those around them rather than on themselves. As mothers, we should spend time teaching our children how to shake hands, look someone in the eye, and speak clearly as they introduce themselves. Don't let that toddler bury his head in your shoulder when someone speaks to him. You should tell them to smile. Do NOT excuse any sort of rudeness at any age by telling the adult (and your child) that they are "shy". Have fun practice sessions at home where you pretend to be someone else so your child can walk up to you, shake your hand, look you in the eye, and say "hello, I am (your child's name)". I remember the fun we had when I would make up a name or simply call myself "Mrs. Bontrager" (for some reason it made my children laugh to call me "Mrs. Bontrager"). We would laugh as we practiced introductions, answering the phone, or saying "thanks for the good meal". I also remember a certain 2 year old daughter (her name begins with an A!!) who was not allowed to play after a meal at our friend's house until after she said "thank-you" for the meal. Lessons learned at an early age usually stick quite well. It is a blessing to have all of our children, on a regular basis, gratefully thank their hosts & hostesses for a meal at one of our concerts. (more often than not, someone that they only met that evening before a concert) I am also grateful that, whenever necessary, each of our children can introduce themselves clearly and with a smile on his/her face.
If, in spite of training and practice, you still have a child who refuses to introduce himself or shake an adults hand, simply tell your friend "looks like we need to work on that some more". And then be sure you do work on that after your guests leave. :)
"But my child is an introvert", you may say. While that may be true, it is still no excuse for rudeness. I find that our introverted children (not very many of them in this family!!) are some of the best conversationalists. They truly enjoy that one-on-one contact with people, more than a large crowd situation. The introvert usually knows how to draw out someone who may not be comfortable with talking to a stranger. I have been blessed to see our sweet Rebecca cheerfully conversing with a dear grandma or other elderly person before a concert. She is one of our "quieter" children, and yet is becoming a great little conversationalist as she learns to think of others first.
Just like appetites for food or media, a child can learn to enjoy and be comfortable with talking with others when they consider that this is not about themselves, but rather about sharing the love of Jesus with others. How can a "shy" person share the Gospel? The same as anyone else!
We need children and young people who will smile, say a kind word, and most of all "go into all the world and preach the Gospel".