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How To Help A Shy Child

As a child, the humiliations were endless. There was the time I locked myself in the bathroom to avoid participating in the school spelling bee and was finally dragged, kicking and screaming, to the auditorium by my mother. There was having to face the cheerful doormen in our apartment building who always asked me about my day.

But the worst was repeatedly having to endure the classic taunt, "Cat got your tongue?" to which I wanted desperately to respond, "No, you idiot! Cat got your brain?" But I couldn't, of course. I was too shy.

Now a recovering shy person, I find myself hoping that my 2-year-old daughter will retain her unparalleled ability to speak up  -- one of my dearest hopes is that she'll be assertive and confident enough to hold her own in the classroom, on the playground, and in the company of strangers in a way that I wasn't throughout my own childhood.

Christina Frank writes about health, psychology, and parenting issues for several national magazines. She lives in New York City.