Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Shy Sixth-Grader

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My son is in the sixth grade at a middle school. He is very shy and goes through his day very lonely, but he wants to talk more and be more social. He is beginning to not like who he is. He is a straight A student and has always liked school. Now he hates it. How do I help him to "come out of his shell" so that he will be more comfortable in school and like who he is? I feel like it is affecting his self-esteem.

A: Pre-adolescence is a difficult time for many children who suffer from shyness and worry about their social skills. Fortunately, parents can play a role in turning shyness around.

Help your son get involved in some activity at school next year in which he'll have the chance to talk with others who share his interest. If he enjoys a special sport or is musically inclined, have him take lessons this summer so he will feel confident of his ability to handle the activity. If tryouts are necessary, he needs to take the responsibility of finding out when they will be held. You don't want to get in the habit of talking for your son and letting him avoid conversations.

Find out if your school corporation is offering any enrichment programs this summer in which your son could participate. You should also check with the parks department and the local library to find out about their programs. Also talk with parents who have children your son's age to find out what their children are doing this summer. Do help him choose activities that he will enjoy so that he'll want to talk to the other participants.

Before school gets out, make sure your son has the phone numbers or email addresses of some of his school friends so he can do things with them this summer. Make it easy for him to socialize by offering to drive everyone to the swimming pool, park, camp, or movies.

Above all else, help your child learn how to be a social being. He needs to know how to make friends. Show him how to ask open-ended questions that can't be answered "yes" or "no." Teach him to look at people when he is talking to them and to be a good listener. Encourage him to tell jokes and laugh as other people enjoy this. Help him learn how to compliment people. Model these behaviors so he can learn them, and he will feel more confident in dealing with his peers.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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.


Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

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!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

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 Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks