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Girl Talk: Too Shy To Play

Q: My daughter is antisocial on playdates. I can't keep saying that she's tired. Is something wrong with her?

A: Is there something wrong with me because something wrong with me because I lack the Paris Hilton gene that makes you want to preen in front of a crowd? Maybe. Or maybe I don't like being onstage. Your baby may have the same aversion, but in her case, the unwanted attention makes her withdraw or cry. It's difficult not to think something's "wrong," particularly when other babies are laughing or doing dances. But they too have their moments of fear and loathing. You just don't see them.

What thrills or annoys your baby depends on her personality. I had a similar situation with one of my sons. It never failed that he was the one having a fit while I smiled nervously and screamed telepathic messages commanding him to have fun, behave, and be cute. (I can't repeat what I told him, but if the FCC monitored brain waves, I would have been fined.) After a few more attempts at different classes, I realized that forcing the issue was teaching my son antisocial skills. ("Hmm. I get it: If you want someone to get out of your face, wail like a banshee and watch 'em scatter.") Finally, I accepted the fact that he wasn't ready to join a class. Three years later, I'm proud to say that my boy joins in group fun at his own glacial speed. And by giving your baby the time she needs to feel comfortable, she will find her own way to shine -- in or out of the spotlight.

Babytalk contributing editor Kitty O'Callaghan is a mom of two boys and a girl in White Plains, New York.

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