Within any classroom, there are often a few quiet or shy children who may find it difficult to make friends (sometimes because they appear hostile) and are perceived to have skill deficiencies or lower intellect – though this is not necessarily the case. However, because they hold back and appear withdrawn they fail to make their skills apparent. There is sometimes a concern about their long-term social development should they fail to learn appropriate strategies to help them to become braver, more confident and able to form meaningful connections.
Psychologists say that persistent shyness or shyness that leads to children playing alone can be a problem as they miss out on learning important social skills such as sharing and taking turns. This can affect their cognition and sense of self.
Often children who are shy with other children of their own age that they see regularly, are anxious about what others think of them or how they think of themselves. This can lead to them excluding themselves from interacting with others and might make them easily victimised.
For parents, it is unsettling when their child comes home upset because of their feelings of exclusion, isolation and loneliness.
I have worked in school with this specific issue and carried out programmes that take place through coaching sessions or workshops. It is important to provide tips and guidance about how to become braver and more confident in their communication.
As a result of becoming braver and more confident children will develop better social skills. This also means they will have better language skills which will in turn increase their cognitive development and to make improvements academically. They will also have more opportunities to prove what they know and to make their strengths apparent instead of raising suspicion about skills deficiencies.
They will have a greater sense of fitting in and will be able to expand the boundaries around how they live their life in general, meaning that they are more likely to speak up if they experience a problem and will have better opportunities presented to them by others in life, increasing their knowledge and understanding of the world with greater ease.
This also creates a better outlook for their mental well-being too, as their social circle will become more reliable, more expansive and they will overcome anxieties they may have been on the path to developing.
In summary, these new skills will affect them positively in an emotional, intellectual, linguistic and social way:
Emotional: Better sense of self and understanding of the emotions of others. They will have less worry and anxiety and feel as if they have choices instead of being stuck with the problem of shyness.
Intellectual: As a result of greater levels of social interaction they will learn more from others by discussing their thoughts and ideas. They will have access to more information and be able to make better choices as a result.
Language: Their comprehension of language will increase as will their vocabulary. This carries long term benefits for the fitness of their minds into later life and old age.
Social: Due to their greater social skills they will have improved connections with others and will form more meaningful relationships with other people. This means that they are more likely to be good partners and parents later in life.
Financially:Making a small investment to change their trajectory could pay dividends later on, especially if you compare the cost to the cost of helping them to resolve a more deeply rooted social anxiety later in life. The health challenges that might manifest themselves and the cost associated with not succeeding as well academically will mean they will likely need further support in the future.
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