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Helping children who are shy

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/2/2006 | Education

All of us know what it is to go to school. The first day can be especially unnerving if we are surrounded by new classmates and new teachers. This may be especially difficult for a shy child, who finds it difficult to reach out and build relationships. You must understand that shyness is not a negative trait. Introverts only require more space and time to adapt and merge with the new environment. 

That is why it is important for parents and teachers to understand the childs needs better. Tagging a child as weak or an introvert can make the child withdraw further. Instead, it is better to recognize a childs talents and work on them. Encouragement from friends can help the child break out of the shell.

Shy children usually take more time to mix with new people. New situations often leave them feeling unsure about themselves. They feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings. This can be seen in playgrounds where they prefer watching rather than actively participating in the game. Another area of difficulty is in starting relationships like making new friends, on or off campus.

Instead of pushing the children, you should allow them to get acquainted with the surroundings. Once they feel confident and in control of the situation they will join in. Most of these children are extremely caring and sensitive as friends.

Organizing outings with their peers gives them an opportunity to understand their group mates and to interact with them at ease. A child is generally shy when placed in unexpected situations. You will get a completely different result if you entrust the child with responsibility. The child will then be forced to take up the challenge, and become a member of the team.

An effective method to initiate shy children into friendship is through role-playing. Play the question-answer sessions and encourage them to practice it in different situations. This enhances their confidence. 

Parents of shy children must take the teacher into confidence. Armed with this knowledge, the teacher will place the shy children in suitable groups where interaction would not be a big problem. Projects, after-school activities and outings will become easier.

It is understandable if a kindergarten child dreads going to school but it requires careful monitoring if the child continues to behave in the same manner in the later years too. This may be because of personal or familial reasons.

At the personal level, the child may show lack of confidence and fear of the unknown because of his own inability to cope up with real life-situations or the academic burden. In that case the child needs encouragement and guidance.

At the familial level, the parents could be responsible for generating an atmosphere of stress by imposing their ambition on the child and goading them constantly to do the best. Or it could be that the home atmosphere is insecure. In that case, the parents must modify their behavior. 

Remedial measures can be taken once the trouble area is identified.