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For many students, the return to school is something to anticipate and look forward to…maybe even get excited about. The night before, there may be butterflies in little and big tummies alike, but once feet enter the schoolyard and see friends and schoolmates again, the jitters disappear.

For some kids though, the butterflies never go away. For shy children, the return to school causes nervousness and anxiety that never dissipates. Shyness actually physically manifests—researchers at Harvard studying shyness noticed a spike of activity in the right frontal cortex, and in an elevated heart rate, sweaty palms, and increased cortisol levels.

But for shy students, their shyness can mean more than just a hesitancy to interact—it could lead to social phobias or depression in adulthood. But it can also negatively impact grades.

Just like their rowdy counterparts, children who don’t interact or respond when spoken to are equally as disruptive in a classroom. And many even are singled out for this reason—they may even get in trouble for it. But more often than not, teachers are trained to pay attention to students who have an attention deficit or who are hyperactive, overlook shy children.

Researchers at Carleton University are beginning new studies into how teachers deal with shyness in the classroom. This is important, just like the hyperactive child, the shy child requires special attention too.

Read more on shyness and children here: Kindergarten wallflowers

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