Painfully shy

Expert advice on how to help your child come out of her shell

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Q: My four-year-old is exceptionally shy. She rarely makes eye contact when introduced to new people, she almost seems scared when kids approach her at the playground, and she won’t leave my side when we are in a new situation. Is there anything we can do to help her overcome her shyness?

A: Even though your daughter has an inhibited temperament, and may always be somewhat shy, you can help her alleviate some of her shyness.

Encourage your daughter and expose her to social settings with friends and family, but don’t pressure her to interact beyond what she is capable of. And don’t apologize to others for her shy behaviour or act embarrassed by it.

Resist overprotecting your daughter because it sends the message that you think she can’t handle the situation, which reinforces her fear of interacting with others.

Try to provide gentle opportunities for your daughter to overcome her fears: Invite one of her friends over instead of sending your daughter to the friend’s house. Familiar surroundings will help your daughter to feel calmer, and then she can focus on relating to her friend.

Whenever she successfully overcomes her shyness, even a little, congratulate her on her effort and accomplishment. You may soon find that she is joining in the fun with her peers instead of clinging to you.

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