Simple Strategies for Encouraging Shy Students

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Shyness is a complex emotion that is sometimes difficult to understand. What’s important to remember is that it usually elicits feelings of anxiety, fear, embarrassment, apprehension and tension in your student. Being confrontational only exacerbates the problem, but there are ways in which you can help your student to build confidence and participate in class activities. When your students don’t participate, they miss out on vital social and academic skills.

Be Understanding

Students aren’t shy because they choose to be. Accepting their feelings as valid is the first step to overcoming them. According to family therapist, Rose McAloon: “Be sure not to criticize your child for being shy. And don’t compare her with other kids or her siblings who may be more socially adept. Instead, respect her feelings and fears and work around them.”

Discuss ways in which shyness can be practically overcome. Role-play scenarios like how to start a conversation with someone your child would like to get to know better or how to deal with bullies. Having an arsenal of prepared responses will help your child to feel more confident. You can also ask them about situations which made them uncomfortable in their daily interactions at school. Discussing the ways in which your students could have responded will help them to feel more prepared.

Meeting strangers

If you bump into a friend and want your child to greet them, but they are too shy, don’t apologize. Preempt this behavior by chatting with your friend for a few minutes before you introduce your student. When your student sees that you are comfortable, they are more likely to respond or make eye contact.

Small groups

Most shy students find large groups intimidating. Instead, arrange for one-to-one meetings with new people or new friends.

Preparing your student for large events will help to ease their discomfort. If they have to perform at a school concert, practice their part until they know it by heart. Then get them to perform it in front of your family, then add some friends so that they are accustomed to performing in front of a crowd.

Get them to visualize their performance, the stage, and all the people in the audience. They should visualize themselves giving a successful performance and feeling confident. The same technique can be used to great effect when preparing for presentations.

Small challenges

Try to give your student small, confidence-building challenges every day. Be sure to only give them challenges that they can cope with as failure only helps to reinforce shy behavior. Be patient and understanding and never push them too hard. While you should encourage them to move outside of their comfort zones, let them move at their own pace.

Always build their confidence with praise. Focus on the positive and don’t be over critical. Focus on their positive attributes and help to build their confidence.

Get a tutor

If your student is not participating in class, you can help to build their confidence by getting an in-home tutor. Here they can work in the comfort of their own homes which helps them to feel secure and confident. They can overcome gaps in their knowledge and feel more confident when answering questions in class.

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