6 Tips for Helping Quiet Preschoolers Find Their Voices

role play
Image via Katie Hurley

Some kids run into preschool each morning, ready to tackle any project and discuss their latest interests. They seem to find a friend in an instant, and they have no problem asserting their thoughts and needs. 

Many kids, on the other hand, are a bit more reserved. They hang back and watch, play alone at times, and wait for others to approach them. They are thoughtful and reserved, and they need just a little bit of time to warm up.

Some parents call them shy over and over again. This is a mistake. They already know that they feel shy in certain situations, so they don’t need a verbal reminder every time they enter a room. Quite frankly, many quiet kids are perfectly happy being quiet.

But it can be hard to be heard over the crowd when you’re not accustomed to speaking up.

6 tips for helping quiet preschoolers find their voices:

Be patient:

It takes time to help kids learn to find their voices. They can’t be rushed. Empathize with your child. Talk about times that you've felt quiet.  Let your child tell you what works for him or her.

Instead of asking your child twenty questions after preschool each day, try asking one simple question: “What was the best part of your day?” This gives your child a chance to think about and open up about the ups and downs of the day.  

{ MORE: How to Deal with Back to Preschool Stress }

 

Ask for a morning job:

Most preschoolers have some sort of classroom “job” that changes from week-to-week. Kids love to be classroom helpers; they get to feel independent and responsible while learning to become more independent and responsible. 

Ask your child’s teacher to create a special morning job for your child. Having a task right away helps ease quiet kids into the day and can provide an opportunity for them to begin interacting with other kids earlier in the day.

Image via Flickr/NASA Goddard Flight Center
Image via Flickr/NASA Goddard Flight Center

Promote interests:

Some kids love to talk about their interests and hobbies. A lot. But quiet kids tend to spend more time thinking about their interests and hobbies than talking about them. 

Take an interest in your child’s interests. Ask questions. Join in the play. Share your child's interests and hobbies with his or her teacher so that they can be tied into class activities.  

{ MORE: What To Do When You Just Can't Set Your Crying Baby Down }

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Focus on small groups:

Learning to open up takes practice, but throwing your child into large playgroups is overwhelming at best. Arrange one-on-one play dates or groups of three (be sure to find kids with similar interests to start) to help your child socialize in a safe environment. If your child refuses play dates, don’t fret. Trips to the local park or library are great for watching, learning, and practicing introductory social skills.

Image via Flickr/Peter Baker
Image via Flickr/Peter Baker

Stay close:

If your child clings to you at parties or during other large group events, it’s because the size and sound of the crowd are most likely overwhelming, and your child might have a different definition of “large.”  Ten kids might seem completely overwhelming to your child, even if that feels small to you.

Stay close. Narrate the scene. Greet other kids and parents to model ways to enter conversations. Check in with your child regularly. Help him or her find an activity of interest or a friendly face. When you ease your child into overwhelming situations, your child learns how to find his or her way.

 

Image via Flickr/kindercapes
Image via Flickr/kindercapes

Role play:

Practicing using a big voice at home is one of the best ways to find that big voice. Get silly. Have fun with it. Have your child act like the President or the Queen and give a very important speech. Give your child a common household item and have him or her make an infomercial about it (you can even record it for extra fun). Ask her to host a dance contest and get the crowd ready to dance.

You get the point. 

When kids try on different roles, they have the opportunity to let go of their usual persona and be someone else for a moment. It can be very liberating, and it also provides an opportunity to practice using a big voice.

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6 Tips for Helping Quiet Preschoolers Find Their Voices

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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