jolliologist asks:

Need advice for encouraging kindergarten boy to participate in group activities like singing, or motions to songs, etc.

Five yr old grandson too shy or stubborn to join in group activities at school. Will not sing at Christmas concerts, will not read out loud very often, will not participate in songs that  include actions to the words. Any help is appreciated.
In Topics: Motivation and achievement at school
> 60 days ago



Mar 4, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for writing to JustAsk!

Many children will enjoy the art of "pretend" in order to get over some shyness.  Perhaps he can practice with a super hero cape or pretend in another way that suits his interests.

Also, he may enjoy seeing himself on videotape, so allowing him an opportunity to practice with a video camera may be helpful, too.

Good luck!

Louise Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families™

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Additional Answers (2)

kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hello!  I have two boys who are now 6 & 8.  Neither of them is highly prone to drawing attention to themselves but one in particular was born with "terminal stage fright".  In private he was a total ham but any time he felt like he was being watched by others he totally shut down into a teary puddle.  Whether it was a preschool performance, a soccer game, or church choir, he couldn't function if someone was watching.  

Today he's a totally different little guy.  He takes theater classes and performs in plays, he's fine in sports games, and he frequently organizes "shows" for family friends to watch in our home.

I think the key was that when he was struggling with shyness, we continued to offer him opportunities to be seen but we NEVER pushed him to perform.  We didn't stop going to his games, performances, etc but when he spent the entire time sitting in my lap we were very careful not to make him feel badly about it.  We talked to him about how much fun we thought he could have if he joined in and we told him how much people would love to see all of his very special gifts, but we never punished him or teased him when he couldn't do it.

We asked him lots of questions about why he had such a hard time and he kept saying he felt "afraid".

A dear friend gave me the advice of giving him a "force field" to wear when he was going to have a chance to do something in front of an audience.  It's an imaginary and invisible shield that we spray on all over him - from head to toe (from an imaginary and invisible can) right before the performance.  He gets to choose the color.  I'm not sure why it works but it does!  When he has on a force field he doesn't feel afraid.  He feels protected and safe and can perform!  

At first he needed a force field for EVERYTHING...from ordering a meal in a restaurant to playing a soccer game.  Now he only asks for one for really big events.  We always give him one when he asks and we make sure his big brother never gives him a hard time about it.  (In fact big bro has now been ok'd to apply a force field!).

I think the most important thing for your grandson is just to talk to him in a non judgmental way about WHY he doesn't want to do these things.  He may not be able to articulate it.  Just let him know that you love him and that you're willing to do whatever you can to help him learn to enjoy these wonderful opportunities he has.  Let him know you're talking about it because you want HIM to be able to enjoy his life more (not because YOU want to see him perform).

He may eventually break through - or he may not.  Let him know you love him either way.

Hope that helps!

> 60 days ago

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lynellen writes:
Some children have difficulty with getting their hands to do what their brain tells them to do or quickly enough to "keep the beat" of the song.  If there are other issues with being able to keep up with his friends in gross motor activities such as catching a ball or learning new skills in his physcial education class, you might have an occupational therapist look at him to see if he has motor planning weaknesses.  Motor planning is the ability to sequence the steps of a new motor movement and can affect timing and rhythm of his movements.  Hope this helps!
> 60 days ago

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