10 ways to help your shy child become a confident speaker

October 12, 2018
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    Now that your shy child attends school, you want her to be able to speak confidently both to other children and to adults.

    You want her to express her ideas and feelings clearly and comfortably.

    And to be able to take part in conversations and class discussions.

    Perhaps, you even want her to speak in front of large audiences at year-end school performances or in whole-school assemblies.

    However, this is easier said than done.

    For some timid children, talking confidently is a daunting challenge.

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  • 2 / 12

    When trying to nurture your child’s confident speech skills, bear in mind that she needs time to make progress.

    You cannot transform her into an outgoing public speaker overnight.

    So, be patient with your six-year-old.

    Encourage her to speak more confidently but don’t push her too hard.

    Aim for gradual progress.

    And use lots of praise along the way.

    Try these activities to improve her speaking skills:

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  • Family discussions
    3 / 12 Family discussions

    Encourage your child to voice her ideas during family discussions.

    Whether they are about which television programme to watch later that night, or which shops to visit tomorrow.

    Make a specific point of ensuring that she has her say.

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  • Decision-making
    4 / 12 Decision-making

    Involve her in minor decisions in her daily life.

    For instance, ask her to tell you which T-shirt she wants to wear or what breakfast cereal she would prefer.

    The experience of speaking up about such matters boosts her confidence.

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  • Small performances
    5 / 12 Small performances

    Ask your child to sing a song to you and your partner or to her siblings, or even to a larger family gathering.

    Although she may cringe with embarrassment at first, she’ll give it a try with your support.

    Related stories: Why is my girl so shy in public?

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  • Opening strategies
    6 / 12 Opening strategies

    Confidence with speaking often drops because a child is not sure what to say when she meets someone.

    So give your child specific speech suggestions for opening a conversation.

    For example, “Hello. My name is so-and-so, what’s your name?”

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  • Socialise
    7 / 12 Socialise

    The more your child mixes with others her own age, the more likely she is to improve her confidence in speaking to them.

    Especially if she does so in small groups.

    Arrange suitable social opportunities for her.

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  • Acknowledge strengths
    8 / 12 Acknowledge strengths

    She won’t feel good about speaking in public unless she feels good about herself.

    Point out all her positive attributes.

    Let her know that you think highly of her and remind her that others like her too.


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  • Drama classes
    9 / 12 Drama classes

    As well as being good fun, drama classes teach children improved ways of expressing themselves in front of a large audience.

    Skills learned in that context usually transfer to other situations, such as discussing ideas in a small group.

    Related stories: Tips for helping your shy child

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  • Asking questions
    10 / 12 Asking questions

    The next time you and your child are out shopping together, encourage her to speak to the cashier when making a purchase.

    Short conversations with a stranger, where the purpose is very specific and limited, is good practice for her.

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  • Provide feedback
    11 / 12 Provide feedback

    Most talking opportunities occur spontaneously, as she mixes with her friends and family every day.

    When you notice her speaking confidently to someone, tell her how pleased you are that she held the conversation in such a mature way.

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  • Role-play
    12 / 12 Role-play

    Engaging her in pretend role-play is a helpful way to boost her confidence in speaking.

    Because she is able to act out different parts in a non-threatening play atmosphere.

    She can pretend to be her teacher, or you, or a television character.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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