Educational Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Translational Issues in Psychological Science 1.2 (2015), pp 149–157.


Copyright © 2015 American Psychological Association. Used by permission.


Shyness is a temperamental trait characterized by wariness, fear, and self-consciousness in social situations. In elementary school, child shyness is associated with a wide range of socioemotional difficulties, including poor peer relationships (e.g., exclusion, victimization), internalizing problems (e.g., low self-esteem, anxiety, depression), and academic adjustment problems (e.g., lack of engagement, poor academic performance). In the current article we particularly review recent research examining the implication of shyness in educational contexts. Topics covered include the development of shyness, why shy students might perceive the classroom as a potential threat, and the unique challenges faced by shy children at school. Further, we consider research pertaining to shy children and their teachers, including teachers’ attitudes and beliefs toward childhood shyness, and the critical role of teacher– child relationships for shy children’s school adjustment. Thereafter, we briefly summarize the findings from teacher-focused and child-focused intervention programs aimed to improve academic and social performance of shy children. We conclude with a short description of implications of shyness for educational practitioners and posit some directions for future research.