My 7-year-old daughter is extremely shy. She won’t introduce herself to anyone or join other girls in their activities. Is this just a phase?
Most children outgrow shyness and “blossom” at a certain age, but some will always be shy. While being outgoing happens to be a cultural value, shy children are often thoughtful, creative, intellectual and happy with one or two friends. Accept your daughter as she is and don’t turn shyness into a problem. Listen and respond to her unique interpersonal needs and preferences. She may prefer quiet activities alone or with one friend. Support her in the way she wants without imposing your value judgments on her. Encourage and empower her to move gradually beyond her comfort zone without rescuing. If, however, your daughter is truly anxious in social situations over a prolonged time, she may have social anxiety, which is best treated by a professional.
Dr. Patti Zomber is a child psychologist based in Marina del Rey, Calif. She has written numerous articles about parenting, and she is a contributing editor on NestleFamily.com as well as the editor of the Los Angeles Psychologist journal.