Shy Kid? Activities To Help Your Child Communicate Better

Communication is the key to success in today’s competitive world. Communication skills can be defined as the ability to express ourselves freely and confidently in all aspects of life. Shyness in children can prevent them from making friends and developing a sense of well-being. Shyness can be a problem for kids as they hesitate to participate in school activities, ask questions, and speak up their minds. They may refuse to raise their hand in class, address an audience, or work as a group leader on a project. This can adversely affect their learning process and communication skills.

Some kids are naturally introverts so parents have to accept their natural behaviour. However, parents/caregivers can employ the following tips to enable the kids to come out of their shells and communicate better.

1. Understand your child’s shyness

Understanding their shyness and not forcing them all the time to do as they are ‘supposed to do’ is the first step in helping build better communication skills in children. Do not label them as ‘shy’. So if your child does not answer a question someone has asked or hesitates to take an initiative in speaking, do not call them ‘shy’ to describe how they are feeling. Instead, try saying that your child is “not feeling very talkative right now.”

2. Awaken their curiosity

Engage your child in activities that arouse their curiosity. Give them books to read or videos to watch that focus on interesting facts. Storybooks and fairy tales enhance their imagination. Arising a child’s curiosity ultimately compels them to ask questions. Their inquisitiveness will lead them to come out of their shells and communicate with others in search of answers.

3. Engage them in outdoor games/activities

Get them involved in outdoor sports like cricket, football, volleyball, swimming, etc, that require team building and involve interactions with others. This will help them lower their shyness when they interact with a group of other children.

4. Practice ‘role plays’

Some shy kids know what they should ask for, but they have trouble saying it when required. They often hesitate to speak up for the simplest of things. Rehearse sample situations with your child. You can even help create some scripted material to say when your child needs to speak up.  Having pre-written answers for different situations eases a child’s anxiety and he feels better equipped to face any situation.

If your child feels awkward greeting teachers in the morning, act out the situation with his toys or with family members at home. The goal is to get your child to think of the things he/she can say in such situations.

For example: “Good morning Sir/Ma’am, how are you today?”, “Can I talk to you after class, Ma’am/Sir?” or “I need some extra time to get the homework done.

5. Play storytelling

Storytelling is an excellent communication skill-building activity for kids. Readout stories along with them every day and allow them to express their views at the end. Encourage them to suggest an alternate ending to those stories. Also ask them to tell stories, initially in front of a few family members, and later on, increase the audience. This will slowly diminish their hesitation and make them good public speakers at the same time.

6. Use mirror

Ask your child to practice speaking in front of a mirror. Give them small topics to express their views on. Initially, ask them to practice alone. Once they gain confidence and are more comfortable, you can ask to join as well. Practicing in front of a mirror enables the child to have a look at themselves and examine their body language. This is excellent communication skill training for children.

7. Do what interests them

Kids are always eager to know if their parents are listening and if their thoughts are valued. Instead of forcing any activity on your child, ask them what interests them. This will increase their interest and participation in the activity. The more active they are, the better they will perform. This will not only improve the communication skills of the child but also reduce their shyness.

It is important to give children a comfortable and safe space to let them overcome their hesitation and shyness. Bad experiences during the initial years and emotionally hurt children are the reasons to develop a shy behavior later on in life. While some kids are naturally introverts, parents/caregivers have to differentiate between inborn behaviour and shyness due to unfavourable experiences.

So, it is imperative to acknowledge a child’s needs and not over-expect from them. Having unrealistic expectations and forcing them on your child will only make things worse. Understanding them, acknowledging their shortcomings, and engaging them in communication skill-building games for kidswill enhance their interactions and help them shed their shyness. This is essential, not only to help them express themselves better but to make them confident and successful individuals tomorrow.