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confidence           reply
01/12/2011 22:39 - Ask Mother Hen (Locality: Galway)
I have a 9 years old boy and always from 4 years of age very shy and no confidence. However since hes been to school and participated in sports, he has come on immensely. the only problem is that he is still having problems on his own with a stranger!. If he knows the person in question, there is no problem but if he doesnt or if it is a relation he doesnt see often, then he will not make a conversation with them. On a mother to son discussion last week i asked him why and he said that he doesnt know them, and he started to cry, but it seems that he knows his problem but cannot over come it. A recent action happened lately where he was among boys he didnt really know and they kept asking him questions and he just answered yes or no (because he hadnt much knowledge of him), so they started to laugh at him, so he got so upset. please help me as i am the type to talk to him, but he seems to get annoyed if i keep on and on about it. Please help me!!!

re : confidence           reply
06/12/2011 10:13 - Ask Mother Hen
Lots of children are shy or lack in social confidence. Its great that your son has grown socially through sport, there´s a good chance that that will continue. However, as you specify, he´s unsure how to act when he meets someone new or is put in a situation with a stranger. I wonder firstly is there some confusion in his mind about strangers being potentially dangerous? He may be confused about how to act as he was probably warned on the one hand not to talk to strangers (particularly adults); yet here he´s also being encouraged to make friends with strangers! It may be that he has some confusion about that that needs to be cleared up incase he´s still taking that literally (help him to understand what rules apply when).
The other point is that children often have to be coached in this type of skills. You could re-visit a situation which wasn´t too stressful for him and help him generate possible responses to questions (other than just yes or no) and also help him to brainstorm some conversational questions that he could pretty much ask most people in a new situation - thus teaching him to take the pressure off himself by switching the focus back to the other person. If he learns to get the other person talking about themselves, he has learned a valuable lesson in making friends! People are almost always interested in talking about themselves and it also makes them feel like the asker is interested in their life, therefore making it more likely that they´ll like your son in the process. This type of coaching could be done with mini role-plays or just more casually as the situation arises - rather than focusing just on what went wrong; helping him to focus on a solution to prevent embarrassing situations recurring. Its also helpful to encourage and praise him whenever you see him making an effort socially to grow his confidence; let him know what he´s doing right whilst also reassuring him that he doesn´t have to be Mr. Funny or Mr. Popular because he´s perfect just being himself.

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