Q: My son is going into preschool and is very shy about reading out loud. When we read together he barely whispers and he almost never reads in public. How do I boost his confidence?

A: Dear Jenmc101:

I am not sure that your son needs anything specific. It is wonderful that he is already beginning to read before even attending preschool! And we must bear in mind that the skill of reading and the skill of performing comfortably in front of groups are both complex abilities requiring considerable practice. Only a very few children are natural hams eager for the public stage, happy to command the attention of their audience. Most little children are rather uncertain at first when put on display with recently-developed talents.

Your son may be a conscientious personality, careful about getting it right. His confidence will grow on its own, through his sense of security in your love for him and the joy that you take in all of his growing abilities. Little by little, he will become more used to exposure to groups and to finding his own role within the group. This is a process that often takes many years.

Many children cannot read in public comfortably until they are 8 or 10 or even older. Many adults dread the idea of reading in public.


Elizabeth Berger MD

Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger