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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

GreenTuftyFlowers Sat 25-May-19 16:51:05

I suppose teachers need to be able to have an idea of WHY the child is being quiet which is why awareness of often completely different causes (selective mutism, autism, shyness, introversion, disengagement, bullying, abuse etc) is important.

The problem is when an erroneous conclusion is reached - eg a selectively mute child is deliberately not speaking to be difficult, and the problem is made worse by making a big deal of it and threatening punishment.

With regard to selective mutism, intervention strategies are absolutely not about judging. It's all about removing pressure to speak rather than punishing / bribing, which isn't really going to harm any quiet child.

GreenTuftyFlowers Sat 25-May-19 16:37:28

OP - have a look at selective mutism (low profile) info if you think it might fit? What you said about being forced to speak being unhelpful is very true of selective mutism and it's important your DD's teachers understand this.

This is a very good info sheet:

herculepoirot2 Sat 25-May-19 16:30:31

Not sure teachers can win this one. If they let shy children remain that way, they will criticised for failing to build confidence. If they intervene, they are charged with judging the child for their shyness. Lose lose.

GreenTuftyFlowers Sat 25-May-19 16:25:54

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.

What a lovely post, you sound very perceptive and caring. smile You're exactly describing Selective Mutism there and there are specific strategies you can use to help if you haven't yet found them? Have a look at the link posted by FloatingThroughSpace, there are also a lot of teacher resources on the SMIRA website info pages

littlesunshining Mon 01-Apr-19 07:32:37

Thanks for the replies, it would be great if DD could gain more confidence but I'm just not sure if making her speak more is the answer. She has gotten a lot better, when she first started school she would cry every morning simply because she didn't want to go somewhere without me and she often didn't ask for help when she needed it. As time went on she just became more comfortable, made a few friends and settled in. She's quite talkative at home, not as loud as my other DC but she's certainly more confident there. I was quite a shy child but I seemed to just grow out of it, being made to speak more only made me anxious and I don't think it helped much in the long run but I know that might not be the case for DD

StitchingMoss Sun 31-Mar-19 17:55:20

Up for yourself

StitchingMoss Sun 31-Mar-19 17:54:59

@nutsfornutella, which teachers have said hands up is the only way to assess? This is rarely used nowadays IME.

Quiet doesn’t = unhappy but as another poster said, being able to speak to for yourself, present to an audience, share your views in a group, etc is an incredibly important life skill so we do what we can to nurture it. Equally, the “loud” kids need to be helped to listen to others point of view, not always dominate discussions etc. My DS has been constantly pulled up for shouting out, dominating discussions etc and his listening skills have been something myself and his teachers have worked on over the years. He’s finally beginning to understand that his enthusiasm can come across as arrogance and he needs to learn to share the limelight. It cuts both ways.

BottleOfJameson Sun 31-Mar-19 17:29:32

Obviously you can assess a child without them speaking in class but the fact of the matter is (I say this as a shy introvert) is a skill that almost everyone needs. Having the confidence to put forward d your point of view in front of people is vital.

Being quiet socially and more interested in small groups is fine and not something to try and chabge but speaking up in class is an important part of education.

Lougle Sun 31-Mar-19 16:54:04

Thanks floating. That's really helpful.

Itssosunny Sun 31-Mar-19 14:17:41

How did I manage to post in the wrong thread?

FloatingthroughSpace Sun 31-Mar-19 12:59:18

Your DD sounds like she may have low profile selective Mutism?

This is different from the communication difficulties caused only by autism. These are caused by social communication difficulties (don't know what they should say) or social interaction difficulties (not motivated to interact on this topic).

Low profile Selective Mutism is not uncommon as a comorbid condition with autism. It is different in that children have something to contribute, know what is expected of them in answering, but cannot bring themselves to do so (anxiety based).

Firef1y72 Sun 31-Mar-19 12:44:50

I wish someone had been concerned about my "shyness" at school, could have meant I'd have got help and had my autism recognised a a little earlier. Of course autism wasn't really recognised in girls back then, but I would hope that the warning signs, which includes that shyness, dislike of large ,groups, difficulty with making friends (beyond a core group) would be noticed and acted on today.

(I am regarded highly intelligent, have high IQ, plenty of qualifications, but was unable to walk in to a classroom even one minute late (so wouldn't go and then I may as well not go to the rest of that day at school at all), would have a panic attack if asked to speak in front of the class, had very few friends (like maybe 1), didn't cope well with any attention on me, painfully shy, etc, etc, etc. Finally got my ASD dx 2 years ago.

nutsfornutella Sun 31-Mar-19 12:28:41

I've personally had the feedback at Parents Evening that my quiet ds gives excellent answers verbally but isn't good at expressing them on paper. It's very unimaginative of the teachers on here who think that hands up is the only way to assess. Some children will produce excellent work away from the distractions in the typical classroom and not necessarily cheat by copying or get parental help. I think that some teachers underestimate the effect on the classroom environment has on quieter people. In my experience, teachers often overlook the extroverts who aren't really confident and use loudness to disguise their insecurities too but the parents aren't given that feedback or help from schools as there is a mistaken belief that quiet = unhappy and loud= happy.

Itssosunny Sun 31-Mar-19 12:02:02

OP, happy Mother's Dayflowers

Your mother on the other hand doesn't deserve a message from you today. Stay strong.

Guylian2019 Sun 31-Mar-19 11:36:11

Luna - I think we'll have to agree to disagree. I've been teaching a long time and my methods certainly work for my children and for me. However, I can see the other point of view and I would never push a child if they were uncomfortable. I do believe in encouraging confidence to speak up however.

geekaMaxima Sun 31-Mar-19 11:06:46

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

This is completely wrong.

Being shy means being nervous or lacking confidence around other people, particularly people you don't know very well. Shy people are often anxious in social situations that require them to interact to more than they're comfortable with doing. Shyness can stop you asking for help even when you need it, so shyness can make some children struggle in school because they don't get the support they need (in a "don't ask, don't get" system).

Being introvert means being more focused on your own mental states than on interaction with other people. Introverts tend to prefer thoughtful or reflective behaviour, and often find noisy crowds tiresome, but aren't nervous or lacking confidence around other people and don't get anxious in social situations. Introversion can make you inattentive if you're inclined to daydream when bored, so introversion can make some children miss parts of lessons in school because (for instance, if the class is moving too slowly for them) they're busy thinking about something else.

I'm an introvert but it wasn't a problem in school because I'm not from the UK and quiet studiousness was perfectly acceptable. I work in STEM where a reflective, thoughtful mode of being is a huge bonus when it comes to analysing data and writing papers. And I'm perfectly confident around other people and regularly lecture to hundreds of students without a moment's anxiety.

Introvert ≠ shy.

flumposie Sun 31-Mar-19 10:44:23

English Secondary school teacher . We introduce assessed speaking activities from Year 7 simply because as part of the GCSE course pupils have to be recorded by video completing spoken assessments These are then sent to the exam board . This is why I try to engage pupils in discussion.

Lweji Sun 31-Mar-19 10:43:41

All introverted are shy people.

As others said, not true.

There is also a difference between being shy and being quiet.
If she is able to answer questions when asked, and if she's able to deal with people when she needs to, then I wouldn't worry too much.
In fact, I don't, because that's how DS has always been. And me.
The quiet ones tend to think before they speak, whereas many outspoken people tend to speak before they think and are more often than not very unreasonable.

Processedpea Sun 31-Mar-19 10:36:23

Coco fake it til you make it smile I find I have to really remind myself to be confident as it just doesn't come naturally

Processedpea Sun 31-Mar-19 10:35:00

I was shy too it was awful I now gave ways to deal with it or just grew out of it but it did stop me doing so much I feel I missed out on do much I think schools can access lots of advice to give kids more strategies to be more confident

cocomelon23 Sun 31-Mar-19 10:31:07

This was me at school. My mum always got told I was too quiet and shy. I'm still the same now at work as an adult and tbh it's a pain in the bum. I have ideas and things to say but just can't. Social situations are a nightmare. I wish someone had been able to work in my shyness as a child (if that's even possible).
My ds is the complete opposite. Absolutely full of confidence, speaks up when needed etc. I'm so relieved he didn't take after me.

LunafortJest Sun 31-Mar-19 10:30:55

Guylian2019 There have been others on this thread who pointed out how lazy and outdated the method is, so it's interesting you pounce on me. You seem very defensive for someone so sure of your methods. Perhaps because you know we're right.

You can assess a child with worksheets. How sad that you think a child needs to speak in class in order for you to assess them. Very lazy thinking. A teacher can speak to a child one on one. They don't need to speak in front of the entire class, surely, just for you to assess them. And if you think students cheating is a reason not to do exams, I gather you won't be preparing your students for exams in high school. And smh reading your response.

Guylian2019 Sun 31-Mar-19 10:20:58

''Guylian2019It 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.''

I think you might be the outdated one! I didn't mention shouting out. How sad that you think there's no need for a child to talk in class. If you think you can gain all assessments from worksheets then you are mistaken. You can't always see if the wrong answers are showing deep misconceptions, simple errors or simply a lack of checking. You may not know if they've copied or if they've used something on the wall to help them. Talking to the child gives you a MASSIVELY better insight into how secure they are with a concept.

BlingLoving Sun 31-Mar-19 10:20:27

@Luna no that's not true. In fact, the trickiest combination is a shy extrovert.

BlingLoving Sun 31-Mar-19 10:19:32

There is a difference between being shy and being introvert. Shyness is a problem as shy people.find it difficult to speak up, advocate for themselves, let their needs be known etc. Introverts are people who do not feel invigorated and excited by large groups.

Being an introvert, confident and happy but preferring significant alone time or smaller groups is fine.

Being shy is something the school will want the child to work on

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