It might start by simply hiding behind their mother as a toddler and progress into a sense of anxiety so strong it inhibits everything from classroom instruction to proper socialization.
While many children are boisterous and creative through imaginative play, some struggle deeply with shyness.
Shyness has positive points, but when it is so extreme that it affects their daily life in a negative way, then there may be ways to help.
Group activities for shy kids can be very beneficial when executed correctly. Timid kids can learn to find strength in numbers and to be accepted in ways they previously feared.
It might seem the worst thing you could do is put a shy child in the middle of a team or arranged social circle – but in many instances it can also help.
While some kids may never be the spokesperson of the group, they may contribute ideas to a more outgoing member of the team and feel proud where they otherwise would’ve just been silent.
An attentive teacher will recognize a shy student who is struggling, and will often try to help.
One way to help is to arrange the classroom so that desks are in pairs or small clusters rather than individual rows. This promotes teamwork in the classroom – the various clusters of desks work together to come up with an answer, or they brainstorm together for an activity.
Leading the Way
Many shy children tend to be excellent students or independent workers.
Why not tap into these positives by asking them to mentor younger children?
Whether in the classroom or on the soccer field, the opportunity to build relationships with younger kids can make the shy child feel more comfortable and able to speak up more in other life situations.
This works even better if they can be paired with another to assist a handful of younger ones. This mentorship system is the core of the Montessori school structure – it has been known to raise confident and capable children, and in some instances, abolish shyness.
Get Active in the Classroom
Although it may seem a recipe for disaster, one of the best activities for shy kids is group physical activities or sports. They experience victories without having everything rest on their shoulders, but also learn the important lesson of other people counting on them to be confident and do well.
Team activities have proven time and again to be effective in bringing children out of their shell, and don’t include the pressure of individual sports like gymnastics or figure skating.
When Shyness is a Problem
If a child is so shy that they are experiencing anxiety attacks, problems even walking into the schoolyard or signs of depression, encourage the child’s parents to seek the help of a health care provider right away.
While many kids are shy and go through life in a simpler, quieter way, shyness can sometimes lead to more serious issues. Sometimes even a one-time therapy session with a quality counselor can get to the bottom of the situation and help the little one to feel more confident and secure in who they are.
Sarah Antrim is a blogger and social media manager for ActivityHero, a website that helps parents find, plan and book kids classes and summer camps. She blogs extensively about kids activities, providing parents fun and time-saving tips on how to engage kids. As a mother of two, Sarah firmly believes in the company’s mission to keep kids active & healthy.
Try HelpTeaching out today for free.
No credit card required.