Shyness is a part of life for many children and teens. And while studies on shyness show that it’s not totally detrimental to success in school or later in life, it’s generally recognized that shyer people have a more difficult time due to social anxiety and other drawbacks that come from being more closed in a world that is increasingly open. As a former teacher, I can say for sure that shyness can, in some ways, hinder a child’s success. Here are three ways shyness creates problems at school.
Although I labelled it public speaking, what I really mean is that virtually every class or activity has a component that involves acting in front of others. It could be giving a speech to classmates, doing a math problem at the board, or shooting basketball foul shots in front of a crowd.
These tasks aren’t always easy for even extroverted children. For kids with extreme shyness these activities in front of their peers can be horrible, anxiety inducing events. And, the lack of poise and confidence can lead to lower grades and less success in these activities.
School isn’t just about studying and grades and academic performance. It requires a lot of social adjustment and adaptation. All of this is crucial for the real world too where knowing a skill is valuable, but social skills matter, as well (think business as an example).
A child who is shy has more trouble making friends, interacting with teachers, and functioning in an already high stress environment. And, wanting friends, dates, and good relationships is a deep human need. You might be happy if your kid brings home good grades. But your child likely has more stress and anxiety associated with the lack of a social life.
Shyer kids tend to be the victims of bullying more often than outgoing children. It’s likely because shy youth internalize their feelings more. They’re less likely to stand up to the bully or tell anyone else about it. Plus since shy kids are sometimes perceived as “different” they earn the attention of bullies who look for different children to pick on.
This might be the biggest problem for shy kids at school because being bullied can lead to lower grades, self-harm, and other negative health consequences.
While these problems might seem bad, if you have a child who is shy that doesn’t mean he or she will experience any of these issues. However, helping your child become more outgoing and come out of his or her shell will provide many social advantages. Our book, The Teen Popularity Handbook: Make Friends, Get Dates, Become Bully-Proof does just that. We offer tips to create a happier, more outgoing and confident child who can avoid the issues that can occur with shy teens and children.