Success for the Excessively Shy College Student

Risks for the Shy College Student | The Being Well CenterTemperament: The excessively shy, “slow-to-warm-up” college student

Most of us as parents worry about our kids taking too many risks when they head off to college.  With greater opportunity and with parental supervision gone, will they drink too much, say “yes” when a joint is passed around the room, try cocaine, engage in unprotected sex with someone they barely know?

On college campuses today, the opportunity to make such risky choices is certainly there particularly for the highly approachable, the overly outgoing, the seemingly self-assured or the highly impulsive student with ADHD.

Daunting Challenges for the Shy College Student

However, for those students who are temperamentally at the opposite end of the approach-withdrawal continuum, college can present challenges that are just as daunting.

Just think about the number of new things and people they have to face and find some way to “warm up to”: a roommate with different routines and customs, a different bed, sharing a shower and toilet with others, using a laundromat, different foods prepared in different ways, an arrogant professor, a large lecture hall, too much information to learn no matter how hard you study, classes scattered across a large campus, dealing with others who are drunk or high, a schedule that changes every day the lack of solitude, different kids in every class, and meeting new people who are different geographically, ethnically, racially, religiously and in their sexual orientation are but a few of the more common “new things” that all students encounter on campuses all across the country.

For some “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, it’s just a matter of time before they finally settle in and adjust . . . maybe after a few days or a couple of weeks. During this time their stomachs might flip a few more times, their mouths might be a bit drier, or their palms a bit sweatier.

Parents of these individuals can rest assured that they’ll also be taking a giant step backward from some of the other more scary new things that they will encounter on campus . . . at least initially.

When Shyness turns to Anxiety

However, for more extreme “slow-to-warm-up” individuals, the sudden newness on multiple fronts at college can be overwhelming and downright devastating.

Shyness can progress to social anxiety and extreme isolation.  Novel courses, new concepts, new ways of doing the familiar, unusual and confusing directions, one new thing after another, all can precipitate panic.  The thought of going to a professor, teaching assistant or someone down the hall who has the same class to ask for help is simply out of the question!  Unfortunately, since one day’s work builds on the previous day, it’s easy for them to quickly get behind the 8-ball with nowhere to turn.

Many respond by withdrawing even further . . . shutting it down and going to bed well before their roommate.  Out of sight out of mind.  Sleeping in and missing class.  Hanging out in their room eating junk food while obsessively playing video games or watching TV.  Lying to themselves (and you) about how it’s really going.

Helping Shy Students Toward Success

There’s actually lots that can be done to help the “slow-to-warm-up” student adjust to and succeed at college.

However, they first must recognize and accept this part of their nature.

We can’t change a student’s basic temperament, but we can help them identify where it places them at risk and then brainstorm ways to mange, cope and work around this potential barrier.

The first step is to take the appropriate Confidence@College screener to see if there are aspects of your child’s temperament that place him/her at risk for college failure.  If so, contact us so we can help start moving things along a path to success.

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Temperament: Success is in Understanding the Mix

image via Flickr by Davidlore Bueso

image via Flickr by Davidlore Bueso

Each of our temperamental traits is important and plays a significant role in shaping who we are, how we behave, and how we experience and respond to the world around us.

While we have defined and discussed these traits individually, it is important to remember that in the real world these traits do not exist in isolation; they interact with each other to influence our behavior in a complex way.

Subtle differences in temperamental profiles can result in dramatic differences in how they present themselves in our homes and classrooms.

Temperament Profile 1: Jackson

For example, let’s consider Jackson, a child with a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, and high intensity of reaction.  He may be very difficult to work with when this set of characteristics interact with each other to result in frequent, very big negative reactions that last a long time in response to the inevitable changes and challenges that occur every day in the classroom.

Temperament Profile 2: Sam

On the other hand, take Sam, a different child with a very similar profile including a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, but a low intensity of reaction may be much less difficult to work with. This is because his low intensity of reaction means his frequent, negative reactions to the changes and challenges in the classroom will be milder and, even if they do persist, their small magnitude may not register on anyone’s radar.

Therefore, as we examine a child’s temperamental profile, it is important to look closely at each trait separately and then consider how each of these individual traits may interact with the others to shape the behavior and personality we are observing.

Let’s reflect and review.  Where are you, or where is your child, on the spectrum of these temperament traits?

Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUse our Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet to map it all out clearly.


Call The Being Well Center today for help understanding the mix of every part of your child! 724-433-4120

Understanding Temperament: Persistence

image via Flickr by Petr Dosek

image via Flickr by Petr Dosek

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding PERSISTENCE

Persistence refers to how long we stick with tasks regardless of their difficulty, ranging from very long to very short.

Some of us are highly persistent even in the face of tremendous difficulty; we keep going and going and going.

Others of us spend only a short time on a challenging task before giving up and moving on to something else.

The child with long persistence resists giving up and will practice a task repeatedly until he has mastered it. This same child may struggle to stop an activity when it is time to move on if he has not yet mastered or completed it.

The child with short persistence may stop practice before mastery, struggle to stick with longer, more complex tasks, and be ready to put down a challenging book long before the last page.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableDownload our Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicityToleranceIntensityMood, Approach-Withdrawal, and Adaptability.


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Understanding Temperament: Adaptability

image via Flickr by David D

image via Flickr by David D

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding ADAPTABILITY

Adaptability refers to the amount of time and effort it takes to adapt or accommodate to a new person, situation, or concept after our initial approach or withdrawal response.

This can range from easy (highly adaptable) to very slow (non-adaptable). Those of us who are highly adaptable easily integrate new routines, expectations, and concepts into our life.

Those of us who are slow to adapt struggle tremendously with these same changes. In the classroom, the child who is highly adaptable readily goes with the flow regardless of the changes in his day, such as routines, class structures, and rules.

The child who is slow to adapt may require an extended time to get into the flow at the beginning of each school year, struggle with changing expectations, buck new rules, and resist changes in routines. This same child may seem slow to understand and integrate new concepts that are presented even when they are in sync with his ability level.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUpcoming blog posts will discuss the other 9 Temperamental Traits that make you and your child unique.  Follow along with this Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicityToleranceIntensity, and Mood.


Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!

Understanding Temperament: Approach-Withdrawal

image via Flickr by Porsche Brousseau

image via Flickr by Porsche Brousseau

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding APPROACH-WITHDRAWAL

Approach-Withdrawal refers to our initial response to new persons, places, events, and ideas ranging from highly approach to highly withdrawal.

Those of us who are highly approach readily jump into attempting new tasks, meeting new people, and trying new foods.

Others of us who are highly withdrawal resist trying a new activity, avoid attending a party with strangers, and step back from a different kind of food.

The child who is highly approach will not hesitate to start a conversation with a new student or teacher, jump into new activities and embrace new concepts and academic challenges.

The child who is highly withdrawal may struggle with new students, avoid new playground activities, and step back from an unfamiliar concept in the classroom.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUpcoming blog posts will discuss the other 9 Temperamental Traits that make you and your child unique.  Follow along with this Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicity, Tolerance, Intensity, and Mood.


Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!

Understanding Temperament: Mood

image via Flickr by David Dodge

image via Flickr by David Dodge

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding MOOD

Mood refers to the overall quality of emotion throughout the day ranging from very positive to very negative.

Those of us with positive mood spend the greater portion of our day in a pleasant mood; we are likely to put a positive spin on everything; problems are challenges.

Others of us with a negative mood may seem more critical throughout our day; we are likely to see the glass as half empty.

A child with positive mood is generally pleasant in the classroom and may even struggle to recognize when difficulties are present or percolating.

The child with negative mood is likely to respond with frown, a headshake, or critical comment to most anyone or anything.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUpcoming blog posts will discuss the other 9 Temperamental Traits that make you and your child unique.  Follow along with this Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicity, Tolerance, and Intensity.


Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!

Understanding Temperament: Intensity

image via Flickr by Craig Sunter

image via Flickr by Craig Sunter

A key goal in effective treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. 

Understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.

Understanding INTENSITY

Intensity of Response refers to the strength of our responses ranging from high to low. These responses can be demonstrated outwardly or experienced inwardly. So it is not always easy to judge someone’s intensity of response by what we see.

Our intensity is independent of the quality (negative or positive) of our response and the immediacy of our response (threshold).

Those of us with a high intensity of response experience or show strong responses. When we are happy we are very, very happy; when we are sad, we are very, very sad; when we are angry, we are very, very angry. Others of us who have a low intensity of response barely show a blip on the screen when our emotions are set off.

A child with high intensity may become overly silly at birthday celebrations, rageful during a conflict on the playground, and immobilized with nervousness on math time-tests.

On the other hand, the child with low intensity of response may not seem to react at all; she does not experience extreme excitement over a special event or intense disappointment over a failure.

In fact, we may find it difficult to read the reactions of a child with low intensity, often misjudging low intensity for not caring.

It is important to remember that when observing for intensity of response, we can’t always judge the book by looking at the cover; some very intense people experience all their intensity internally; nail-biting, skin-picking, complaints of a tightness in one’s chest, stomachaches, jaw aches, or headaches, etc., may be our only clues to what is going on inside.

High intensity of response (externally or internally) is a very powerful temperamental trait. When present, it can rule over everything: good thinking, paying attention, proper self-control, and appropriate social skills to name a few.

Failure to identify a high intensity response pattern and appropriately accommodate for it can, inadvertently, set a child up for turning to a variety of other dysfunctional behaviors in an attempt to cope with her strong reactions including such things as over-eating, drug use, and developing an “I don’t care” attitude.


Temperament Traits and ADHD | The Being Well Center | Free PrintableUpcoming blog posts will discuss the other 9 Temperamental Traits that make you and your child unique.  Follow along with this Being Well Center | Temperament Worksheet designed to help you pinpoint where your or your child’s temperament trait falls on the continuum. Catch up on previous posts about Activity LevelRhythmicityThreshold, and Frustration Tolerance.


Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and join a community of people interested in getting the facts straight with compassionate support for ADD/ADHD!