As a kid, I was shy to the extreme. I was afraid of going into the pram (stroller), being held by anyone I didn’t know. I feared school so badly that I demanded my grandfather to stand outside the school all day so I could see him every minute. I would never talk to the teachers or other kids. If I was busting to go to the toilet, I’d often hold it so long that it would even cause me to pee my pants. I would never eat in front of others because I felt embarrassed all the time.

Why was I so severely shy?

Perhaps sometimes people are born shyer than others, perhaps shyness is a form of self protection against people you don’t know that may hurt you. Shyness can develop after bad experiences, or you can even be born with it (like I was). All I knew was, I was a completely different person at home. I was loud, crazy and hyper, compared to at school, I was was scared, quiet and nervous.

How should you help a child overcome such shyness?

The environment plays a large factor.

An environment with unfriendly teachers and kids can seriously be damaging!

At school in China, I was too scared to say anything, I would beg the kid sitting next to me to raise his hand and ask the teacher something for me. If he didn’t, I would’ve never talked. I was too afraid to say “Good Morning, Teacher” so I stood outside, and they had to invite me in.

The problem was that often, teachers were quite impatient with students. They sometimes yelled and punished kids who talked in class, didn’t raise his/her hand properly or was late for class. I still remember one of the girls were pressed onto the desk because she was late. I was horrified!

I think everyone noticed a great, drastic change in me after going to school in Australia. The environment was so different and teachers were generally a lot nicer and friendlier and people could see the difference it made to my life. Even though nothing ever completely got rid of my shyness, at least I was able to speak out, raise my hand and talk in class without fear freezing my toes.

Kindness and Encouragement is what made the Difference

Imagine if you want to get a little turtle out of its shell. Do yo shake it and start bashing its shell, or do you stroke it gently and speak in a very soft voice? I think you can imagine which method is more effective.

This is exactly the same for shy kids. They do not need to be scolded, yelled at or told all their faults if they make a mistake. Kids often don’t understand right and wrong, and you have to teach them. Yelling at shy kids will just make them fear you forever. What these kids need most is love, encouragement, warmth and kindness. Someone who’s not afraid to tell them they’re important, talented and amazing. If one person can show them that someone in the world was kind to them, and would not hurt them, that could make a huge difference in their life.

I could list every single teacher’s name who has made a difference in my life, that helped me love something with passion. I had the kindest music teacher in primary school and because of that, I loved singing and music so much. I had teachers who cared about me as a person, and as a result, I forever remember them with the utmost respect and admiration and love. If they have traits in common, it’s the fact that they were patient, kind and caring.

If you have kids who are severely shy, you must know what kind of environment they’re in when you’re not there. Are they dealing with nasty kids and teachers? Please remember that a good environment makes an ocean of difference!