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Raising your child to speak up

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
23 April 2022   |   4:05 am
Having a confident child who speaks up for him or herself is a valuable skill that goes a long way to helping your child become a better adult.

PHOTO CREDIT: UNICEF Connect

Having a confident child who speaks up for him or herself is a valuable skill that goes a long way to helping your child become a better adult. However, developing the ability to speak up takes time and practice, for many kids to develop and imbibe. For the extra shy kids, it will take an extra effort to achieve.

You don’t want to have your child finding it difficult to express himself when necessary. Everyone wants to have a bold and courageous young chap. To achieve this, here are a few things to have in mind:

Understand your child’s shyness. Know that not all shy kids are shy in the same way. Knowing what’s behind your child’s shyness makes it easier to know how to help. Some kids are anxious about speaking up when they don’t know what the response will be, while others will go mute when they are in front of people.

Avoid labeling your child as being shy. The more kids hear themselves described as ‘shy,’ the more likely they are to live up to that expectation. Hence, you should encourage your child to be courageous enough especially at public places.

Kids may need their parents’ help. But if you don’t immediately step in, you give your child a chance to think about what to say and how to say it. It also shows that you know your child is capable.

Parents should also share success stories with their shy children to encourage them. This will help them understand and reap from the benefits of speaking up. Encourage your child to offer input, let him feel important in conversations and know that his opinion and decisions count. You can get your child to decide the family is having for dinner and choice of story to read for the family.

Kids want to know that their parents are listening, and that adults value their thoughts. You can show your child this by saying so and following through. It shows your child that speaking up makes a real difference. While some shy kids know what they should ask for, they only have trouble saying it when the time comes, hence rehearse sample situations with your child. Help create some scripts on what your child is expected to say to encourage him to speak up. An example is, ‘May I speak with you after this class ma’am’.

Also work with your child’s teachers by getting them involved. Talk to them about what you are trying to achieve to boost your effort, that way you can be on the same page and your child’s effort no matter how little can be recognized. His teacher or a counselor may also choose to hold classes on shyness and speaking up.

Constantly imbibe self-advocacy, as it is an important skill to help your child succeed in the classroom. Like any skill that’s hard for shy kids, it takes practice. This will assure your child that he has the necessary support when it’s time to speak up. Finally, recognize and celebrate his small successes. As little as raising his hands in class or answering a question is a bid deal for shy kids, your encouragements and support means a lot to your child.

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