Circle of Friends

Kids Who Hang Back


Kaysh Shinn

Would your toddler rather wrap her arms around your leg than join the other children at the playground? Shyness makes it difficult for children to initiate play, which makes it hard for them to make friends, says Hendrick. "The way to get around that is to try to get people to understand that she needs more time to feel comfortable," Hendrick adds.

To help your child deal with his shyness, let him warm up at his own pace and allow him to watch from the sidelines for a bit. But also help him understand how others may interpret his behavior. For example, if your child is standoffish but then complains, "The kids don't want to play with me," explain that others see his being alone and not saying hello as his way of saying he doesn't want to play. Then each time he does interact, praise him for it, suggests Hendrick. This way, your child receives attention as a reward for initiating social interaction.

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