Shyness and children's adaptation to school in China

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental




The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of shyness and environmental factors on young children's process of adaptation to the formal schooling. The study was conducted in a city in the People's Republic of China. Shy (n = 34) and nonshy (n = 19) children, selected from 224 kindergarten aged children based on parents' and teachers' ratings of shyness, were followed at three points in time during the transition to school. These children were observed by researchers in free play and class settings and evaluated by teachers regarding their school related competencies. In addition, parents' ideas of shyness and parenting practices were investigated. ^ The new school environment seemed to affect both shy and nonshy children, however, transition to school seemed to be more challenging for shy children. Shy children consistently showed less social participation and displayed more anxious behaviors in peer play, engaged less in interaction with teachers, and perceived themselves as less competent, compared with nonshy children. However, teachers tended not to perceived shy and nonshy children differently in their competencies in various domains, except their social skills with peers. In addition, shy and nonshy children were equally likely to receive interaction initiations from other children in free play settings. ^ Shyness as a trait was perceived negatively by parents; however, shy children may not be seen as negatively as shyness and shy behaviors. Parents tended to attribute external causes to shyness and believe that shyness in children were malleable. Parenting seemed to play an important part in shy and nonshy children's adaptation to school. Parents who were receptive of their children and who provided experience for their children to explore tended to have children who adapted more easily. ^