Samantha - Shy with Adults

Dear Shykids   I am okay with my family, actually probably louder than I should be and I'm okay with kids at school.  I have friends and have a good time.  It's with adults other than my family that gives my a lot of problems.  If my teachers ask me a question, I just freeze, even if I know the answer.    Any suggestions?  Oh, by the way, I'm thirteen. - Samantha

Dear Samantha, Okay, join the club!  There are a lot of kids with your problem.  Not to minimize it certainly, but thought it might make you feel better to know you're not unusual.

It's easier and faster to get to know kids your age and to feel comfortable with them.  Teachers are much harder to get to know.  This is especially true in middle or high school because you see so many different teachers all day.

The first thing you'll want to make sure of is that you know your stuff when you're in class.  If you're certain of your material, you've won half the battle.  Here are some tips to overcoming the jitters when talking to teachers:

1. Imagine that your teacher is someone you know.  Really. When you're answering a question, imagine your teacher is your Mom (but don't call her Mom!:)) or your dad, brother, etc... How would you answer their questions?  Think about 

how relaxed your body is, how normal your breathing and then before you answer, try to feel that relaxed.

2. Remember that almost all teachers want you to do well and feel comfortable.  If you have a teacher that you think is a compassionate person, a good listener, consider telling him/her how nervous you get in class.  Teachers gets nervous too.  They have to put themselves on the line everyday in front of twenty kids.  By asking for advice, you will accomplish three things:  1. Break down any barriers you think there are between you and the teacher.  2. Let the teacher know that you are more than "just quiet" - that you do have an interest. 3. Gain valuable advice from someone who no doubt had to overcome classroom jitters once as well.

3.  Don't wait to be asked.  Many kids get into a total state of panic from anticipation alone.  Kind of goes like this:   teacher asks the question, you freeze; teacher gets several wrong answers from other students; heart starts beating faster, you dread being called on; even though you know the answer, your hands start sweating and you go blank.   The alternative to this is to be the first one with the raised hand.   Answer all the questions first when you are sure of your answer.  The first few times, your voice may crack a bit, you may feel your face redden, but each time you do it, your confidence will build bit by bit and before too long, you will wonder why you ever felt uneasy in the classroom.

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