Getting shy children to ‘face their fears’ and coaching parents in exposure therapy is the focus of a new study at The University of Queensland.
UQ’s School of Psychology’s Dr Simon Byrne said while shyness was common among children, parents should seek support if it was causing problems in their child’s life.
“Figures suggest that up to nine per cent of children experience clinically severe shyness, and 20 per cent of children and adolescents experience anxiety disorders, which can be incredibly distressing and highly disruptive,” Dr Byrne said.
“We are seeking participants for our study and hope to use the results to develop parent-based exposure treatments for shy children.”
Exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for anxiety and while psychologists usually lead treatments with children, this study will shift the focus to parents coaching their own child.
“Parents will take the lead and practice exposure therapy with their child, over four sessions, with the support of a psychologist,” Dr Byrne said.
“It’s all about educating parents with the necessary skills so they can help their children thrive, without the need for ongoing treatment.
“By helping children practice social interaction we will be able to boost their confidence and reduce shyness.”
The study is calling for parents and their children aged between five and 12 who struggle with shyness.
Children will receive free treatment during the study.
To register your interest, please visit the volunteer for a research study page.