Ask the Experts: How do I help a child who is painfully shy?

Ed and Dorothy, What do you do with a child who is painfully shy? My 7-year-old daughter won’t speak to other adults and hardly engages with other kids on the playground. It breaks my heart. What can I do?

Thanks!

Belinda C., Crittenden, KY

Belinda,

Go slow with your shy child. You might set up a series of situations where she can play quietly with one or two other children. Make sure there are plenty of materials for them to engage with and perhaps a time together for preparing a treat - something that requires interacting with others to get the task done. I've used hand puppets or even a simple game of catch. Anything that can have a rhythm and perhaps a physical activity to it - along with some easy going chatter. The emphasis should not be on talking, but on just hanging out and doing something pleasant with peers. Seven is very young - let time do its job.

-Dr. Ed and Dorothy

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