Shyness in children is a natural thing.
Children behave shyly in certain situations, such as when they meet people for the first time and when they are exercising caution in unfamiliar scenarios. However, some children are so shy that it interferes with their ability to make new friends and develop social skills.
Some parents have turned to speech and drama classes in Singapore to hone their children’s social skills and overcome shyness. But are there other alternatives that parents of shy children can consider?
1. Teach them how to start conversations
A child who is unsure of how to initiate conversations in a social setting may choose to keep silent and miss out on the opportunity to make friends. Introducing and practicing some simple greetings to use can come in handy.
“Hi, my name’s ___. What’s your name?” “That looks fun. May I join in?”
A little humour goes a long way too. Having a unique one-liner that your child can use makes them memorable.
Remember the catchphrase “How you doing?” made popular by Joey from the sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S.? Some creativity goes a long way, and this can be harnessed through engaging activities, exploration and by building confident self-expression.
2. Hone an interest
Interests can be developed into skills, and your child can benefit from the social connections that are formed due to common interests.
Does your child like to doodle? He or she can learn art techniques and methods by joining an art class. If they like sports, joining a team can teach him or her the importance of teamwork and collaboration.
3. Acknowledge and build upon strengths
Shy children may doubt their abilities and feel inferior. Pointing out your child’s strong points and praising them for what they do well can boost their self-confidence significantly.
For example, if your child has a natural inclination for painting, praise him or her on the choice of colours used or composition. You could even take him or her to the art store to purchase new art supplies for their next masterpiece.
When your child understands that you appreciate their work, it gives them a boost of self-confidence.
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4. Be patient with your child
In our busy adult world, we tend to rush our children into completing their sentences and urge them to hurry up with their tasks. If your child feels comfortable sharing their thoughts without the fear of getting criticised, you may find them opening up and sharing more about their lives with you.
You can do this by putting all distractions aside and devoting about five to ten minutes each day to focus on your child.
5. Provide an outlet for creative self-expression
Every child has their own method of expressing themselves. Reserved children who prefer to observe the situation before jumping into it have astute observation skills.
Introducing them to the arts provides them with an opportunity for them to express their feelings without conversing. For example, some children like to sing, dance, paint or construct their own stories which showcase their thoughts or truly reflect how they feel about something.
6. Consider a suitable kids’ theatre programme
Other than drama school, some parents may opt for kids’ theatre programmes such as Actors Centre Kids. A programme powered by MindChamps, theatrical strategies are utilised to give N1 to Primary 3 children the confidence to express themselves and collaborate with their peers, while injecting creativity in the activities that they are tasked with.
More than a speech and drama class, Actors Centre Kids does not have a literacy component or exam-based curriculum. Instead, it focuses on a theatre-driven approach to inspire fresh thinking and foster connectedness among its students – these are skills which would come in handy during the learning journey in school and beyond.
This article was first featured on the MindChamps Singapore blog.