Understanding Your Child's Personality

Gauging Reaction to New People

5. Reaction to New People

A trait that is often apparent to parents early on is how your child reacts to new people. Does he engage newcomers by smiling or cooing (if he's nonverbal), or is he shy and hesitant around people he doesn't know?

Kids who are slow to warm up tend to need time and support from trusted caregivers before they feel comfortable enough to interact.

Characteristics: From "Let's take it slow" to "Glad to meet you"

For the "Let's take it slow" child:

  • Introduce your child to new people from the safety of your arms. Give them your child's favorite toy or book, and let them use it as a bridge to connect with him.
  • Whenever possible, prepare your child to meet new people ahead of time, and give her lots of time to get used to places.
  • Don't label your child as "shy." Labels can stick and become self-fulfilling prophecies. You can just explain to your child and others that he likes to take things slow.

How you might respond to a "Glad to meet you" child:

  • Provide lots of opportunities for social interaction.
  • Be ready to step in when needed. Even the most sociable child can find himself in situations where he's had enough.
  • Give your child time to play on his own. Giving your child the chance to use his own resources and imagination helps him learn that he can be content not only with friends, but also alone.

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