Monday, August 1, 2011

Helping a Shy Child Gain Confidence

If you have a problem with a chronically solitary child—a child who will not join in with the group or simply stands alone in a corner of the classroom—you can try these methods: 

  1. Give the shy or lonely child access to an attractive activity with the hope of drawing other children to interact with him. 
  2. Try to interest the child in a cooperative activity such as putting together a puzzle, playing a game, or block building, with you as his partner. 
  3. After playing with the child yourself, draw another child over and say, [Chris] and I are having fun playing together. [Caleb], why don't you play with [Chris] now.

Try to include the child or have other students personally invite the child to take part in group activities.  Give the shy child a specific job or activity to do such as handing out activity sheets, giving each person a pencil, or passing out snacks.

Greet the shy child at the door to your classroom and welcome him inside. Help him say goodbye to his parents. Then lead him over to join another child or a small group of children so he doesn't feel overwhelmed by the large group.

The following week, have another child or two greet the shy child at the door and invite him to join a smaller group of children. Encourage the child to become engaged in the small group activity.

From preschool through elementary and up to middle school and beyond, shy children can be reluctant to join the group or to experience new activities. Kind encouragement seems to work best with these children. Welcoming adults and caring peers can go a long way to making shy children feel supported and loved as they hesitantly enter new situations.

Galatians 5:13 is a good reminder of how we should treat all children who enter our programs: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather,serve one another in love."

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