Weddings and Preschool Sing-Alongs
Timidness trigger: Your cousin's wedding sends your child into leg-clinging mode -- you have to pry him off just to go to the ladies' room.
Why so shy? Kids often find large, noisy gatherings like weddings and parties stressful because they don't know what to expect or how to act. Crowds -- especially those filled with strangers -- can be overwhelming for people of all ages. And most children are unnerved when relatives they barely remember greet them with a big hug and kiss.
How you can help: Talk about the event beforehand in simple terms, says Dr. Markway. If you're going to a wedding, for instance, say, "It'll be like going to church. We'll sit in the pew for a while, and later we'll go to a party." You can also show him your wedding video and look at pictures of family members he hasn't seen in a while.
At the reception, let your child stay close if he wants but draw some boundaries, says Dr. Turecki. Let him stay near you at first, but tell him that he needs to sit at the kids' table at dinner. When you introduce him to other children, point out things they might have in common to get the ball rolling: "Jimmy is 5 too. His favorite dinosaur is T-Rex. What's yours?"
Silent During Sing-Alongs
Timidness trigger: While all the other kids in your child's preschool class happily belt out tunes at the spring sing-along, she won?t even move her lips and looks like she's about to cry.
Why so shy? Some kids may love being the center of attention, but others may find the mere idea of performing paralyzing. They're scared of making a mistake and being embarrassed, but often they can't verbalize this fear. And even if they can, they worry that others will think they?re weird for being nervous.
How you can help: Practice together before the show -- sing songs in the car or during bathtime -- to ease her anxiety. Let her know that you'll be proud of her no matter how well she does, and that it's okay if she doesn't want to participate, says Dr. Turecki. Some kids just don't like performing no matter what, like Evan Hollihan, 5, of St. Paul, Minnesota. "We wanted him to perform in school because he's really animated and funny, but he was so uncomfortable doing it that it seemed mean to push him," says his mom, Rosemary Williams. Now she sometimes asks him to sing a song for a friend, but if Evan clams up, she knows to back off. Being forceful is guaranteed to backfire, but gentle encouragement can help your child feel more comfortable in the spotlight.