School Shyness and the Costs

At school there are often numbers of quiet or shy children who find it difficult to interact and make friends. The reasons of ‘school shyness’ can sometimes be because other students may appear hostile or more confident than themselves. This shyness can be seen by others that they have skill deficiencies or low intellect, though this is not always the case.

However, by holding back and appearing withdrawn they fail to make their own skills apparent. This can cause concerns about their future social development skills should they fail to adapt strategies to help them to become more confident and motivated to form meaningful connections.

Psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo from Stanford University explains that consistent school shyness can be an issue as they may fall short on adapting important social skills such as teamwork and sharing. This can in turn affect their cognition and sense of self-worth.

Child psychologist David Elkind, author of parenting your teenager calls the shyness an “imaginary audience.” They feel as though everyone is watching them, which makes them acutely aware of their actions and appearance.

Most impetus has been provided by Jerome Kagan's (Harvard University) research categorising this as “behavioural inhibition to the unfamiliar” defined by a child's reactions to unfamiliar people, object and contexts.

It is common for shy children to be anxious of other children of similar ages because they often worry what they think of them or even how they think of themselves. This can result in them excluding themselves from interactions with others and may open them up to being victimised or bullied. As parents, it is unsettling when your child comes home upset because of feelings of isolation, loneliness and exclusion.

NLP4Kids have worked with many children across the UK with this specific issue. We run programs that perform 1-2-1 coaching sessions or workshops either privately or in schools. We believe that it is important to provide parents with the techniques and strategies to help and guide their children to overcome school shyness and to become more confident in their communication, and as a result they will develop better social skills. Additionally they will have better language skills which will increase their cognitive development and academic learning.

There are a few NLP processes for treating anxiety or school shyness and it all depends on the clients dynamics of the situation along with the experience of the practitioner and the methods they prefer to use. Some NLP methods I prefer to use are the following: (cue the silly NLP terminology)

Anchoring - A process whereby we link positive emotions to the specific external stimulus, i.e the thing they are shy about.

Swish Pattern - A process whereby we unconsciously change the pattern of the un-serving habit into a serving one full of positivity.

Submodalities - A process whereby we strip down, elicit and take each individual visual, auditory and emotional element of a limiting behaviour and exchange it with a more compelling positive behaviour they already run naturally. 

Time Line Therapy - A process whereby we go back in time in our minds to before we ever experienced any of the major negative emotions or limiting behaviours. Using this specific process allows us to ‘release all previously installed negative emotions’ and in turn, instils new positive behaviours.

These are my preferred NLP techniques for dealing with the issue of anxiety or school shyness, and each of these ‘processes’ takes no more than an hour to complete, some are far less than that. All these processes are very easy to learn and are easily repeated unassisted with the correct initial coaching.

By undergoing these processes, clients have a much clearer focus on their daily challenges free from any emotional outbursts or interferences. They have the freedom of choice on how they deal with their day-to-day tasks without any irrational triggers and have much more compelling outcomes.

They will increase their opportunities to prove themselves and to highlight their strengths instead of excluding themselves. They will have a much greater sense of fitting in and will be able to push the boundaries on how they conduct themselves in social situations. They will have the confidence to speak up as and when they experience any issues, and will further develop their knowledge and understanding of the world and have better opportunities presented to them in life.

This will in turn improve their mental well-being as their social circles will improve and they will overcome their habitual social anxieties and these new skills will positively affect them; emotionally, intellectually, linguistically and socially.

Emotional: Greater sense of self-worth and empathy for others. Reduced levels of worry and anxiety with increased positive choices free from isolation or withdrawal.

Intellectual: As a result of increased levels of social interactions they will learn more from others by discussing their thoughts and ideas. They will have the ability to access more information and make better choices as a result.

Language: Their understanding of language will be increased along with their vocabulary. This has long-term benefits for their mental-health for the future.

Social: As a result of their increased social skills they will have improved their connections with the others and will create more meaningful relationships. This increases their abilities to be good partners and parents later in life.

Ultimately, Making an investment now to improve their direction could pay off in dividend later on, especially if you compare the cost to the cost of helping them to resolve a more deeply rooted social anxiety. The health challenges that could manifest themselves and the cost associated with not succeeding as well academically, will mean they will likely need further support in the future.

Some of the content of this article was written by Gemma Bailey, director of It was added to, rebuilt and republished with additional content by NLP4KIDS PRACTITIONER: 

Del Walsh 
November 2018