4 Challenging Student Behaviors (1/4): TIMID

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Timid/Loner

Timid children present a common problem to the teacher of creative drama. Such
children are usually quiet in a class, preferring to sit in the back of the room and let
others do the talking. Their fear of making a mistake, or even of being noticed, causes
them to withdraw, though underneath their shyness they are eager to express their
ideas and take part. They are usually not happy children, for their feeling of inadequacy
inhibits both expression and communication.
The little girl who never volunteers will need special encouragement to try on a new
role or task, no matter how simple. The teacher who gives her this opportunity to show
her peers what she can do may be taking the first step in helping her build a better selfimage. The teacher will be wise to praise her warmly for whatever contribution she
makes. Remember that for the little girl, the very act of getting up in front of the class is
a big achievement.
The isolate or loner is often a child who cannot relate to the group. He or she may work
hard and have good ideas and the ability to present them effectively, but nevertheless
this child is always in isolation. It must be said that isolation is not necessarily a
symptom of some problem. Indeed, it may be indicative of superior talent and high
motivation. Independence is a desired goal, whereas an inability to relate to others is a
problem.
The timid/isolated child may be very self-critical and full of hesitation. They may speak
in a quiet voice or whisper, not want to participate in activities, cover their face during
sharing or want to hide. They may raise their hand to give an answer but then back
down because of anxiety. They may be fearful of many things and avoid eye contact.
They might not play with others outside and prefer individual activities. They may like to
go to the restroom or get “sick” a lot as a way of avoiding others and being alone. They
may want to sit close to the teacher and distract you by wanting to whisper questions or
answers in your ear. Sometimes they are easily overstimulated or upset by noise and
personal space infringements (particularly among students in the Autism spectrum)..
Sometimes they may be an ESL student who is having difficulty communicating with or
understanding the group.
Suggestions:● Use movement and dance to draw a group together naturally; they discover the
meaning of interdependence as well as individual effort
● Give them individual attention
● Give tasks that are low risk and scaffold to higher risks
● Provide them with lots of encouragement
● Discover, highlight and utilize their strengths and contributions
● Use positive reinforcement strategies
● Give them opportunities to participate in a different way (drawing instead of
speaking an answer, giving secret answers, etc.)
● Offer to assist them in a task or simultaneously perform an action with them
● Use a variety of groupings, as they may work better in smaller groups
● Do group activities that allow for a lot of creative expression, but within a team
or “safe environment”
● Compliment them privately as public praise can be embarrassing for some
● Inquire with a program coordinator or teacher about what engages them and/or
about their history at the school
● Find ways to use Spanish more in the classroom to be inclusive of ESL students
● Find moments to have one-on-one conversations with them
● Let them know it is okay for their work/ideas to be incomplete; insist on time
constraints
● Encourage participation; depending on the child you might insist on it
● Refrain from judgemental language about their personality, particularly in front of
others (“Oh, you are shy?”, etc.)
● Find activities that make them feel safe or require the entire group to succeed

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