Having the confidence to speak up in public does not come naturally to every child. While some children find it easy to express themselves, some who are more soft-spoken will find it an intimidating experience.
If your child’s teacher has feedback that he needs to speak up, dig deeper to find out the cause. There could be many possibilities for why your child is more withdrawn.
Is your child an introvert who’s more reserved by nature? Or perhaps, he is unsure of the topic and does not feel confident expressing his thoughts. Did a friend’s comment make him feel conscious of what he says?
Here are some effective ways to help your child to speak up.
1. Engage your child at home
At times, children may feel their opinion does not matter as the youngest member of the family. Encourage your child to speak up by actively including them. Involve them in decisions where they can contribute.
For example, ask for their opinions when deciding where to go for the weekend. Have them pick out storybooks they would like to read from the library. Involve your children at the supermarket and hear them explain their choices. By giving your children opportunities to chip in ideas, they will feel that their voice matters and be motivated to speak up.
Partner with your child’s playgroup teacher to find out when your child is most engaged in class. Was it an activity they enjoyed or a topic they were fascinated about? Use them as a springboard to recreate these experiences at home and talk about them with your child.
2. Inject a fun element
Find ways to make speaking up fun for your child. Demonstrate how to project their voice by reading their favourite storybook and dramatising the scenes. Read out the character’s lines using different accents and volumes and praise them for playing a part in the story.
Children love to pretend play. Have them role-play as a playgroup teacher where they have to project their voice to a boisterous class of students.
Build your child’s confidence to speak up in different social settings. If they just learnt a song in playgroup, get them to sing it at the next family gathering. They can share their latest ‘knock-knock’ joke with their neighbours. Giving children more exposure to speak up will develop their self-confidence.
3. Be patient and encouraging
As children are learning to express their thoughts, stop yourself from finishing their sentence. Show an interest in what your child has to say and be sure you are giving them your fullest attention. If children sense your disinterest, they will feel rejected and be less willing to speak up.
Practice positive reinforcement. Acknowledge your child when they speak up and let them know their opinion is valued. Be patient if your child is still quieter than others and give them time to develop at their own pace.
4. Avoid comparisons
Every child’s character and personality is unique. If your child is an introvert, don’t label it as a negative trait. Comparing them to more sociable children invalidates who they are and may result in greater reluctance to speak up in future.
Introverts are more introspective and think about the consequence of their words before speaking. Give them more time to warm up. Hurrying your child to participate before they are ready can cause anxiety if they are forced out of their shells.
5. Attend a speech and drama class in Singapore
Practice is key to help your child overcome their inhibition. One way is to enrol your child for speech and drama classes in Singapore where they learn voice projection and how to speak with confidence.
Children also get to express their thoughts and ideas through engaging and fun theatrical forms like acting and poetry. Having such fun participating in a speech and drama class helps quieter children build their self-confidence when they have to take centre stage.
Remember, a parent’s encouragement is key to supporting your child’s self -discovery as they grow in boldness to express themselves with confidence and volume.
Written by Susan Koh