Working With Shyness


Looking at the Tutor Doctor blog yesterday held a nice surprise for me. It had a post about shyness that I wish I had read back many moons ago as a student and perhaps it would have helped me get further past the awkwardness if someone prior to my outstanding Masters teacher took some time and pushed me through some of the baggage I had since 3rd grade. Thank you Dr. Treffinger! You really helped me understand what it means to dive in deep and use knowledge and wisdom to share the love of your work with others.

Here is a copy of the blog. I hope you enjoy it. Have a safe Labor Day!

Coping With Shyness

Being shy can, at times, make your student feel isolated and awkward in social situations. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being shy, and most students will go through phases where they feel shy, but if being shy is negatively impacting your student’s social life, and they express a desire to be more gregarious, then there are a number of ways in which you can help them come out of their shell.

Practice Makes Perfect
Often, shy students don’t know what to say or feel awkward in situations and this causes them to withdraw. One way to overcome this is to practice potential situations at home. Pick a situation in which your student feels shy, like ordering food at a restaurant or talking to a boy or girl they like. Role-play different situations and discuss possible answers or topics of conversation. Get your student to practice on people they feel comfortable with like friends or family members. Set them challenges and give them rewards when they do well.

Actions Speak Louder…
Presenting a good example is also helpful. Make sure that you are friendly and use the same techniques you discuss with your students when you are in social situations with them. You can make a game of social interactions. Start by awarding points to your student when they say ‘hello’ to people in the service industry. Up the ante as they become more comfortable. Set points goals and give them rewards when they reach their goals.

Extra Activities
Encourage your student to participate in anything that they enjoy. Playing sports, hobbies, music and learning new skills will inspire confidence. If there is anything that interests your student, try to get them to take lessons, join a club or a social group. Building confidence is something you can help with too! Steer clear of harsh criticism and complement them when they do well. Never apologise for your student’s shyness.

Coping Mechanisms
Although you should provide your student with support and comfort when they are in difficult situation, try to avoid solving the situation for them. You can discuss ways for them to resolve difficult situations and also provide them with the tools they need to get through difficulties on their own. Being able to overcome difficulties will build their confidence and teach them valuable life skills. When you allow them to overcome difficulties by themselves, you are expressing a tacit belief in their abilities. Having confidence in them will help them to have confidence in themselves.

Remember that shyness is a gift. It’s a personality trait that shows that students are caring, kind, attentive listeners and have a depth others may lack. Being shy is a personality trait that is natural and should never be seen as a disadvantage. 

(This post was taken from the Tutor Doctor blog and was originally presented on Aug. 30th)

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