Are there effects of labeling your child "shy"?
I truly believe that labeling any child "shy" can do them long term damage, to a point of sabotage. Just the other day, I bumped into a friend I haven't seen in a while at the bookstore. She was with her 10 yr. old daughter, who I also hadn't seen in some time. We were having casual conversation and I remember asking her daughter how school was. She was very polite and responded, but she wasn't really elaborating. I didn't think anything of it, other than she was just on the quiet side. My friend then called her daughter “shy” right in front of her! Just because her daughter chose not to say much, she apologized for her daughter's behavior by saying, “Oh, sorry, she's normally shy.” She basically labeled her right then and there!
From age 3 to about 10 yrs. old, children interpret many things literally and believe that what is told to them is the truth. My cousin was also called "shy" from a very young age, and I never really understood why my aunt would call her that all the time in front of family and friends. My cousin wasn't shy at all. She was just selective about what she would talk about depending on who she spoke to and what the topic was. She told me years later that because her mom kept insisting she was "shy", that she actually believed it herself. The "shy" label defined her into her adulthood. She accepted her label as the absolute truth.
I still never understand why parents feel the need to make excuses for their child's personality. What's wrong with being on the quiet side? Let your son/daughter decide when and where she/he would like to speak, and to whom she/he would like to speak with. There are so many reasons why kids are quiet or introverted. It could be just a phase, or a comfort issue. Maybe the child reached a point of feeling fed up because of parents continuing to stifle him/her. It could also possibly be from some traumatic event. But honestly, it could also be the parent who's creating the problem! Stop with the "they're shy" business, and PLEASE stop making excuses for your kid. Of course, when your son/daughter is in school, the teachers will know how quiet or NOT your child is....after all, our kids spend about 1/3 of his/her day in school!
Food for thought...think about the loud, obnoxious, annoying, in-your-face type of kid who can't shut up for one second. Do the parents of those kids refer to them as loud and obnoxious? Or, do they use words like energetic and spirited?
Read what Dr. Sears has to say: http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-shy-kid