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Reality Check: Too Shy for Company

Q. My toddler won't let anyone but me hug or touch her  -- not even her grandmother. It's embarrassing  -- how can I get her to relax?

A. My Lila is like that. She'll cut down the gentlest touch with a nasty scowl. It used to make me feel like a loser who failed to train her child in proper etiquette. I'd apologize profusely  -- and make a speedy exit so she could unbury her face from my neck.

My grandma Helen, with her simple "Don't worry, she'll come around," helped me see that I should ease up. Lots of children shy away from everyone other than their parents. So instead of trying to change your child, work on your reaction.

Lila's still retiring, but now I just explain that she needs time to warm up to people. And when I don't make a big deal out of it, neither does anyone else. And you know what? Once everybody relaxes, Lila usually does come around.