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Q: My daughter is too shy to take the first step in making friends. Is there any way I can help her?
A: "Be sure not to criticize your child for being shy," says Rose McAloon, Ph.D., a family therapist based in New York City. "And don't compare her with other kids or her siblings who may be more socially adept. Instead, respect her feelings and fears and work around them."
For a problem like this, acting as a role model can be helpful. "Talking about your own feelings of shyness and giving examples of what you have done to overcome them can help your daughter experience the process in a safe way," notes Dr. McAloon.
Ask your daughter if there's a child she'd like to know better. Then help her think of a way to break the ice. Suggest, for instance, that she ask the other child if she'd like to walk home with her from day camp. Your goals are to help your child see that her shyness is normal and to teach the skills she needs for successful interactions.