Shyness is a reluctance to interact with other people through inhibition -feeling uncomfortable about performing in front of other people and feeling concerned about how other people will rate your performance. Shy behaviour can give other people the message that you don’t like them and that you can’t be bothered to talk, or be polite, to them which puts you at risk of becoming lonely.
Shy children can feel so awkward that they can’t show interest in another person; they might believe they are uninteresting and have nothing of note to say and they might not be prepared to make the required effort of being friendly by keeping a conversation going. Both children involved in a conversation need to contribute and if one doesn’t the relationship might flounder or not develop at all.
Behaviour to help reduce children’s shyness includes smiling and saying hello to other children, asking a teacher a question at the end of a lesson with a friend or in the middle of a lesson on their own, offering to answer questions by raising a hand in class, volunteering to run errands, talking to children they don’t normally talk to, smiling and saying hello to shop assistants who serve them, asking shop assistants for help in finding something, accepting all social invitations and joining clubs.
Shy children need to ensure that when they interact with other people they make eye contact and they speak loudly enough to be heard. They mustn’t rush their speech or fail to fully explain what they are asking because of embarrassment, wanting to get the question over with. They should try to talk smoothly without jerks in the speech or stuttering or many ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ and uncomfortable silences.
Discuss the Following Questions With the Class:
– What is shyness? How does it feel? Are you shy all the time or just some of the time? What kinds of situations make you feel shy? What kinds of situations make you feel shy? (New situations, when you are with people you don’t know at all or not very well, when you meet up with friends after a long break, when you talk to adults, when you have to address the whole class or perform in assembly.)
– Are there any times when you don’t feel shy? (When you are with friends, family or when you are on your own.)
– What do you gain from being shy? (Shyness can be an excuse not to bother to make an effort. It can also mean you get out of being asked to do things as you don’t look confident enough; and you can blend to the background and not be noticed.)
– If you weren’t shy at all, what would you gain? (Having more friends, enjoying their company more, getting to know them better, having friends get to know you better, learning about the world and other people – giving you great practice for when you are older and in less familiar situations.)
– What do people look like when they are being shy? (Head bowed, eyes lowered, fingers fiddling with clothes or biting nails, shifting their feet, blushing.)
– How can you overcome shyness? (Aim for confident body language – it will help you feel more confident. Practise talking to people – if you don’t know what to say, ask them about themselves and they will enjoy talking and will like you for asking.)