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Helping an only child overcome shyness
Q: How can parents help an only child overcome shyness around other kids?

A: It’s common for children to be shy in new situations or surroundings. You can help by explaining to your child that you sometimes feel shy or bashful and telling him what you do to try to overcome those feelings. When meeting others, be friendly so that you model outgoing behavior. When your child seems shy or afraid, show empathy but avoid labeling him “shy.”

Provide opportunities for your child to interact with others on a regular basis so that he begins to feel familiar and comfortable. Eventually, you will be able to expand your child’s circle of friends. When he’s 2 years of age or so you will be able to prepare your child for outings and explain what he can expect.

When your child is going to be in a situation that might provoke shyness, let him bring something familiar along for comfort. Help your child interact with others, but be careful not to be pushy about it. Providing toys that are fun for several children to interact with creates a common bond among the children, including the shy child.
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D., Former Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®