Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Encouraging Your Shy Child

Education Expert Advice from Barbara Callaghan

Q: My eight-year-old son is very timid and afraid to tell his teacher if something is wrong or if he doesn't understand something. He is also reluctant to get involved in activities with his classmates. What can I do for him?

A: Shy children are sometimes at a unique disadvantage. Interaction that is easy and natural for an extroverted child can be quite stressful for a shy one. But you can be an advocate for your child and help him build self-confidence in the classroom and other social situations.

First of all, make an appointment with your son's teacher. Good communication between home and school will be key to his progress. Describe your son to the teacher as you see him at home, and let her know how your son behaves when he becomes frustrated and doesn't understand something. Let the teacher know about any approaches that might be effective in getting your son to ask for help. The teacher might in turn be able to give you insight into your son from a different perspective, and she may have her own ideas about how to help him. The important thing is to open the lines of communication. You and the teacher are a team. The more information you give the teacher, the better equipped she will be to teach your child and to encourage him to be more assertive.

Secondly, encourage your child to become involved in a leisure-time activity of his choosing. Find out what your son's real interests are, and sign him up for lessons, a team, or a club. It isn't necessary for your son to do what all of the other kids are doing just because it's popular. But it is particularly important for shy children to pursue extra-curricular interests because it gives them confidence in their own abilities and practice in social situations. Your son might be reluctant to participate in an activity because he is not sure what to do or feels inadequate. By participating in an activity he likes, he will gradually learn that he has talents and can feel more comfortable with others.

More on: Expert Advice

After teaching in California for nearly ten years, Barbara Callaghan moved to New Hampshire in 1985 and became a principal. After 10 years as a principal, she returned to teaching, her first love and true vocation.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks