There is a growing awareness and appreciation of the advantages to being an introvert, as more information becomes available each day from research into what makes different types of personalities tick.
Although being shy can be considered part of a kid’s nature, and there are many strengths to be found in being timid, it is still challenging for less outgoing children to integrate at school when they are not comfortable socializing and easily get shy.
If your shy kid does not have underlying anxiety but simply prefers a smaller group of friends or quieter indoor play, there is not likely to be a problem. But if your shy child suffers during class presentations and group activities, here are some tips and advice that might be useful to help your shy kids at school.
How to help your shy kid participate more in school
If your child is nervous around big groups of people or dreads group activities, helping the child prepare for a fearful situation can enable her to overcome her fear. If your child is afraid of public speaking, find a speech practicing group or academy for your child. If your child has a fear of public performance, find an extracurricular activity that your child is interested in to expose him or her to frequent performance opportunities.
2. Join the big group
Exposing your child to bigger groups of people more often can improve your kid’s shyness and tendency to be subdued. Spending time in a parent and child class or attending festivals are examples of ways for your child to be surrounded by bigger groups of people, while their attention is focused on something other than the group itself. If your shy child is participating in an activity with you, or distracted by a spectacle, it will help your kid get used to groups, rather than being passive to avoid attracting attention.
3. Opportunities to meet new people
When your little one struggles daily in group settings, it is essential to expose them to new and progressively larger groups. Being exposed to an unfamiliar situation can challenge your child to learn how to cope with her anxiety and integrate into a new environment.
4. Avoid solo activities
Since you want to encourage your shy child to get comfortable and find some joy in group activities and be able to perform in front of a group, avoid or minimize solitary activities like wall climbing, hiking, or drawing when choosing your child’s extracurricular activities. Although these are activities that can be taught in a group, the activity itself is typically done alone or focused on reaching a personal goal or creating something on one’s own. Instead, find activities that naturally lead your child to interact and cooperate with other kids, such as group sports or dance classes.
5. Give support but do not encourage setback
No matter how frustrating it might be at times, do not force your panicked child into something he or she has zero interest in. Instead, find activities that interest your child but he or she is hesitant to join out of nervousness around groups. Support your child by motivating with encouragement and some awards, and if possible, find one of your child’s close friends who might also want to join the group with your child.
Read more in this related article: Helping shy kids to thrive anywhere they go
7 best activities for shy children to improve their social skills
1. Play sports
Playing team sports can benefit your shy child, from physical engagement with others that emphasizes teamwork and cooperation. Since the focus is on winning and cooperation, the shy child can immerse himself in the sport rather than concentrating on his emotions.
2. Public speaking or debate class
If your shy child tends to be at a loss for words in front of her or his classmates, it is a good idea to help your child get more speaking practice. By enrolling in a speech academy or debate club, you can give your shy kid enough preparation and help him or her overcome the fear of public speaking. Research shows one way to overcome fear is to face that fearful situation more frequently.
Dancing can be beneficial for your shy child if she has difficulty moving her body and performing physically. During dance class, your child has the opportunity to observe other kids moving, and gets a chance to be partnered with someone and harmonize their movements, which will help develop your child’s performance in a group setting.
4. Group gameplay
If your shy kid is resistant to any group activity, try starting with group gameplay such as board games. This type of game can be played with a smaller group of 4 or so, and can often be increased to include more people. By engaging in a game your child can casually participate in something fun which can help reduce their fear of group activities in the long term.
5. Theater class
Surprisingly, many actors are more introverted than outgoing when they are offstage or not in front of a camera. Theatre classes can benefit shy kids by allowing them to enact scripted roles, which enables them to feel less exposed than when they are expressing their own thoughts. Acting allows your shy child to experience different characteristics which can serve as models to help her find her own voice and overcome her timidity and fear of public performance.
6. Yard sale/lemonade stand
One of the simplest ways for your child to interact with more people is by holding a yard sale or setting up a lemonade kiosk. This type of activity requires your shy kid to interact with strangers, and the clearly defined purpose of selling can enable him or her to overcome reluctance to speak to new people. At the end of the day, your shy kid can experience fulfillment by counting the profits from selling and serving people.
A great way to engage shy kids with more people is by participating in volunteer work. Rather than simply coaxing your child to choose something he or she can do in a bigger group, join a local volunteer group with your child. There is something about helping and doing something nice for others that can help your shy child to focus on the motives behind their actions, which can not only be helpful in overcoming shyness, but can also bolster self-esteem.
If your shy kid shows signs of lacking in school participation and suffering during group presentations, you can help your child get more comfortable in a group setting. Although your child might prefer solitude and smaller groups, motivating him or her to join group activities that provide more chances to engage with new groups of people can have life-changing benefits.
You might also be interested in reading the articles below:
- Why are parents so overwhelmed by a highly sensitive child, and what are the symptoms and habits of a sensitive child that will guide you to effective parenting?
- Step by step guide to treating children’s anxiety at home, and things to know before getting started