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Why are school so negative about DD's shyness?

(97 Posts)
littlesunshining Sat 30-Mar-19 19:22:51

7 year old DD is in year 3 and every parents evening it's the same, she's doing well academically, she's on top of all her targets, this is what she needs to do to improve...but she's too quiet apparently. I'm not sure why the school have such a problem with her being quiet. By the sounds of things she gets on with her work but will tell someone if she's stuck. She doesn't cope very well in big groups so she doesn't put her hand up very often but she answers the teacher if she's asked a question. I know her teacher wants her to participate more and I encourage to but she can't be forced. She doesn't have loads of friends, just sticks to her little friendship group but she gets on with most the kids in her class. I see being quiet and introverted as just part of her personality, she's been that way since she was a toddler and she may grow out of the shyness and become more confident in the future but if she's happy and doing well then i don't why they are so eager to do something she's uncomfortable with

isabellerossignol Sun 31-Mar-19 10:11:53

This is my daughter too, she's in her first year of secondary school. She came top of her class in most subjects in her first set of exams, with the notable exception of drama where she was bottom of the class by quite some distance, because she speaks so quietly and struggles to speak in front of people.

I don't think she needs 'cured' of her quiet nature but there is the potential for it to hold her back because Eg if she doesn't understand something she simply wouldn't ask a teacher to explain or repeat it because she hates to speak. I do worry that she is at the very extreme end of quietness.

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 10:10:20

Introverted and shy basically mean the same things. Shy can include lacking confidence and being insecure, but not always. All introverted are shy people.

Adversecamber22 Sun 31-Mar-19 10:06:38

Extreme ends of introvert and extrovert behaviour will both bring their own problems.

I think what is getting mixed up here is shyness which is something totally different. I suppose teachers are concerned dc may be shy. Being shy does negatively affect people’s lives. MN has had many a thread over the years with people worried about being shy and lacking confidence who will not push forward and speak out due to shyness. That trait often negatively affects their lives.

nutsfornutella Sun 31-Mar-19 09:49:32

* This thread actually shows quite a lot of resentment and negative thoughts towards naturally extrovert children:**

Extroversion/shyness is s spectrum. If too shy is a negative thing so is the opposite. As it's a spectrum by definition there will be children on both ends of that spectrum which is what the person who said it's normal probably meant. In my experience the education system is biased towards the extrovert. Teachers almost expect low level disruption from the extrovert and the system does not recognize that the shy may learn to become more confident if the people on the other end of the spectrum were also being nudged towards the middle through working on being quieter.

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 09:45:23

@Guylian2019 It might be 'easier' but it is a lazy and outdated method. A kid shouting out something proves absolutely nothing. That is what grading worksheets is for. That is what assessment of submitted work is for. There really is no need for any child to speak in class.

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 09:43:14

Yet people, including teachers, are hostile to shy and introverted people and you don't see that hostility as a problem? Only the hostility shown to those who are usually hostile first?

PickleFish Sun 31-Mar-19 09:30:13

Being shy might cause lots of problems in later life (as I have found out to my cost) but telling parents they child is quiet, or trying to change the child by making them uncomfortable and forcing them to speak up or do presentations or whatever isn't helping them become less shy, it's just reinforcing that there's a problem with the way they are.

If teachers actually had a way of helping, taking the child from where they were and encouraging baby steps, finding out what was making things so hard for the child, teaching strategies to manage anxiety, etc, that would be different - but most of them don't. It's just telling the child to 'put their hand up'; 'be more confident'; 'talk more'; 'do this presentation/play/activity that means speaking' etc, none of which solve the root of the problem. Shyness can be at a level that is out of the teacher's remit, and constant commenting on it, pushing the child into situations etc, can make life a nightmare for shy children.

RuthW Sun 31-Mar-19 09:24:03

Just ignore it. I had the same at every parents evening right up to yr 11. She now has a masters degree in maths snd from September will be teaching maths in a secondary school.

See does presentation to 100s of people and doesn't bat an eyelid.

Think she's done ok!

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 09:23:53

@Oblomov19 No, it is not a problem. Not at all. I don't understand why you can't see this. That your attitude is the problem.

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 09:21:31

"It's not good to be dominated by other people. Most if not all quiet people don't stand up for themselves as well as they should."

That seems like victim-blaming, to me. What about if the dominant noisy and aggressive people didn't act in a way that meant quieter people need to defend themselves? How about that?

"Plus it means the class is missing out on her contribution & she is missing out from finding out the she can have great stuff to contribute."
If the answer to a question is a simple basic fact ie what does 2 + 2 = ? Then how are the class missing out on anything? And why assume she doesn't know or have the confidence to contribute? Maybe she knows others will answer. Maybe she doesn't have anything extra to contribute, so would just be adding to the noise. Maybe she is a listener, not a speaker. Just because someone doesn't put their hand up in class (I never really saw the point, tbh. The teacher is there to teach us, anyway.) doesn't mean they don't realise they have the ability to contribute. Perhaps they consider it a waste of time and wish the teacher would just get on with teaching instead of wasting time getting kids to yell out things.

Sparklingbrook Sun 31-Mar-19 09:20:56

Shy DS is now at University and although he's never going to be a loud extrovert is doing just fine. He's come a long way since First School, but he still remembers the teachers for all the wrong reasons.

Acis Sun 31-Mar-19 09:18:09

I used to get this virtually every parents' evening with DD, to the extent that I almost wanted to go in with a sign saying "Yes, we know she's quiet, live with it and tell us something we actually need to know". When she got to Sixth Form College, I wanted to kiss the teacher who said "She's quiet, and that's absolutely fine, because when she says something it's worth listening to." She went on to a career which requires her to speak to groups of people regularly and, though she found it difficult at first, she coped fine and has done very well.

Lougle Sun 31-Mar-19 09:05:25

I think there is a difference between 'quiet' and introverted in the sense of 'being a thinker rather than a speaker', and 'shy' in the sense of 'finds it difficult to interact with other people' and 'won't ask for help because it requires speaking'.

Many of you are describing quiet, thoughtful children, who can speak up, but generally choose not to. They aren't shy. They are just more towards the introvert end of the scale.

A shy child can have problems. My DD2 is shy. She won't speak in class unless spoken to. She won't offer answers to questions unless the teacher specifically addresses her. She won't ask for help, even when she's completely stuck. She won't answer her mobile phone unless I say "DD2 answer your phone."

DD2 now has an ASD diagnosis.

Whatsername7 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:59:42

Im a teacher. Shyness and lack of confidence can be heartbreaking to watch. When you see that light in a childs eye having asked a question, and you know they have an answer or idea but cant find the confidence to say it. You dont pick on them to answer, you worry that will make it worse by putting them on the spot, so someone else shares an idea and you see their shoulders slump a little, defeated. In group work, they get walked over by the more confident kid, despite having ideas or they have a piece of work that would be perfect for the 'star' assembly but you are worried that if you put them forward they will be mortified. When you talk 1:1 all you get back is a nod, smile and wide 'deer in headlights' eyes and you worry you are making things worse when you are trying to help. If the child were to start to believe in themselves, put their hand up occasionally, you could praise them and show them that there is nothing to fear, but you need them to take that first step. So, you tell the parent at parents evening - your child is wonderful and perfect, but so shy she barely speaks. You are hoping for 2 things. 1. The parent will say 'at home she is so loud! She loves school etc' so you can feel reassured that child is happy. 2. That parent will support the child in comimg out of their shell too.

Oblomov19 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:51:27

We all face challenges, we all need re-adjustment and trying to balance.

I have the opposite problem, with DS2, he was born confident. he is quite loud and he needs toning down. that's my challenge.
I'm just striving for balance.

Oblomov19 Sun 31-Mar-19 08:36:33

Maybe I didn't phrase my OP very well, but my point remains the same.

One later poster says 'it's normal to be shy'. Actually I disagree. Normal? The norm?

No, I don't think it is. Many many people are. But surely we are all supposed to be aiming be balanced? Surely the aim is balance:

Not particularly extrovert, but not shy either, not introvert, and if the child is painfully shy or particularly shy it really is in the child's best interests to be less so. So parents, teachers everyone's job, is to encourage that adjustment. Gradually, gently, over time.

This thread actually shows quite a lot of resentment and negative thoughts towards naturally extrovert children:

Some posters wishing that they just shut up and listen and let the quieter children have a say/ get a word in edgeways!!

I'm clearly the minority here, because, you see, I find that very interesting ! hmm

Guylian2019 Sun 31-Mar-19 07:56:51

I'm a primary teacher.

First of all its much easier to assess children who are able to discuss their learning. Lots of assessment information comes from watching and listening to the children rather than from their books.

Second of all it's not that rare to have introvert teachers but many get more confident as time goes on. I've worked in a few schools as I've been teaching a long time. I'd say it's around a 60:40 ratio of naturally extrovert/naturally introvert. However many of the introvert teachers mask and appear extrovert until you know them well enough to spot it. I'm actually one of them! I'm definitely naturally introverted but would prefer my kids to learn extrovert ways as I think it's easier for them long term. It's an easier life. I wouldn't force an uncomfortable child to speak aloud but I would encourage. These skills are important for gaining jobs when older, making new friends etc and it opens up a whole new world of jobs which may remain unlikely for an introvert.

MeYouWye Sun 31-Mar-19 07:29:38

Every one of my parents evenings they told my parents that I was quiet and detached. I was noisy at home so they never took it seriously.

I've worked in education since and quite happy with life, and can be chatty when the need arises. Teachers are looking after 30 children in their class, that is quite the challenge. The children that will get most noticed are the ones that stand out in some way. The rest are kind of along for the ride (there are exceptions obviously but the nature of my job had me in many different teaching environments so I can say this with certainty). Therefore if your child is quiet they will need to be self motivated to be successful. I don't think shyness is a bad thing but as I see the same attributes in my child, I'm home educating them.

StitchingMoss Sun 31-Mar-19 06:52:40

I was brought up by a painfully shy mum and have a painfully shy sister - I’ve seen the negative impact it’s had on both their lives. Consequently I made it my mission to ensure neither of my DC were “shy”.

I’m also a teacher and do my best to encourage the shy/less confident children to participate as much as possible.

It worries me when parents tell others that their child is “shy” in front of the child as it encourages them not to speak. I think this is a shame.

Incidentally shy and introverted are not the same thing - Dc1 is an introvert like my dh, so perfectly happy to participate and not shy but needs lots of time alone to recharge his batteries.

RedHelenB Sun 31-Mar-19 06:10:20

Be honest, being shy is a hindrance in life. The teacher is only trying to help.

WhenISnappedAndFarted Sun 31-Mar-19 00:08:17

This was me as well, all the way throughout school.

All I and my parents heart was 'I wish WhenISnappedAndFarted would put her hand up and answer questions more, we know she knows them.' or 'I wish she'd contribute to talking more in class' or 'shes a very hard worker, she just needs to speak more'.

I didn't need to speak more. I just wanted to get on with it and to be left alone. I'm an introverted person and I hate that a lot of people try and get shy or introverted people to talk more.

nutsfornutella Sun 31-Mar-19 00:01:23

* Bring very shy and quiet is a problem and it's the schools duty to try and bring her more out of herself.
I don't understand why you all can't grasp this.*

In my experience if you analyzed what extroverted and introverted people said in class, the percentage of relevant, meaningful comments made by the introverts would be far higher than the extroverts. Ideally teachers would assess on the quality of contribution rather than quantity.

Shyness is a problem if the pupil can't/doesn't ask for help but in my experience there's a lot of extroverts who could learn from the introverts and listen more than they speak.

DangermousesSidekick Sat 30-Mar-19 22:49:36

Schools do seem to becoming ever more hostile places for those that aren't massively social and don't have verbal diarrhoea. Perhaps some of it is a reflection of the increasing political play among school teachers themselves. Some of it might also be because they are being pushed to raise aspiration - and in Britain, more and more, aspiration and high-level jobs are brought about by mouthy socialising, not actual competence. We need a huge culture shift.

Fudgenugget Sat 30-Mar-19 22:45:11

All through primary, and now into secondary, teachers said this to DD. @Sparklingbrook your graphic has her to a tee.

DD is achieving, doing well in English, Maths, Art, Drama, History and Geography. She produces beautiful pieces of work, tidy and clear to read.

Yet they still want her to talk more. She has always been quiet, as have her dad and me. She will answer a question when asked, but won’t put her hand up voluntarily.

After Parents Eve one day, she was in a class, and bravely decided to put her hand up. The teacher said her answer was wrong. DD said it was right, because she reads a lot. Teacher still insisted the answer was wrong. DD came home, told us about it. We looked it up and DD was right. DD declares she is never putting up her hand again. angry. She says why bother when the teacher doesn’t even know the right answers!

So now she is back in her shell, and happy as a clam!

HeathRobinson Sat 30-Mar-19 22:45:01

Bring very shy and quiet is a problem and it's the schools duty to try and bring her more out of herself.
I don't understand why you all can't grasp this.

So funny! 😂

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