Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 21 Jun 2007

My daughter is so shy it is hampering her experience of primary school. How can I help her?

Hillary's Advice

There are three things to look at here: your daughter, yourself and the school.

Your daughter is obviously reserved by nature so it is no good expecting her to suddenly blossom into the life and soul of the party. But you can foster her sense of self-worth by making sure that she realises you accept her for who she is, and by encouraging her with lots of praise and support. Gently coach her in skills like speaking up and looking people in the eye, and invite other children home to play with her, subtly easing things along if they seem to be getting sticky.

At the same time, run a very honest check your own behaviour. Could it be that you are too over-bearing, critical, or interventionist, and have inadvertently driven her back into her shell?

Then think about the school. The fact that her teacher has brought this up means that, at least, your daughter’s problem has been noticed. Talk with her teacher about how the school could help, have a word with the playground supervisors, and also flag up the issue with whoever is going to be your daughter’s teacher next year.

At the same time step back and see if there is a bigger problem here. Is the school either too big, or too small for her? Does she fit into the general social mix? And is the school honestly dedicated to making sure all its pupils feel included? If there is any sort of problem here, you might need to consider moving your daughter to another school.