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How To Help A Shy Child

Help Your Child to Hobnob

"In most cases, shy kids do want to join in and be part of things," says Jennine Moritz, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist at Virginia Commonwealth University's Treatment Center for Children, in Richmond. "But it's easiest to start small." Rather than sending your child out onto a playground full of kids, invite one or two over to your house to play. Being on his own turf will help your child feel more secure, adds Cheek.

If he has trouble initiating play, introduce an organized game in which everyone has a turn. Or take him to a storytelling event at the library, where there will be opportunities to meet other kids, but you'll be nearby. "You want to arrange but not push," says Welkowitz. "Allow your child to cling to you if he wants, but don't entertain him or even talk to him much. Set up a situation where he'll have to go elsewhere for the goodies  -- in this case, companionship."

Often, shy kids are more comfortable playing with younger children. "There's nothing wrong with that," says Cheek. "Nor is there anything wrong with a shy boy who prefers playing with girls."

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