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Encouraging a Shy Preschooler to Participate (page 2)

Encouraging a Shy Preschooler to Participate

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Updated on Aug 6, 2013

Encourage Interaction

When your child hangs back in a new situation, allow him to cling a few minutes while you reassure him that you understand how he feels. “Staying calm and relaxed is key,” says Hess. “When everyone else’s child is playing independently, parents may feel pressured to involve a reluctant child before he or she is ready.” Once he’s more comfortable, suggest a way for him to get involved. Point out a child who is alone. If that child has been to your house for a play date, it will be easier for him to approach her. Or find an activity he especially enjoys. You may need to walk him over to get him started. Then try to include another child: “I bet Parker would love to help you build that block tower, wouldn’t you, Parker?” When the other child joins him, gradually back away.

When your child makes progress in a social situation, reinforce the success. “I noticed you shared the trucks with Caitlyn. That made her very happy.” “It was brave of you to ask Liam if you could play too. You two had a lot of fun, didn’t you?” “Reinforcing the positive feelings the interaction created in your child will help your child connect those good feelings to actions he finds difficult, such as sharing or inviting others to play,” Hess says. Positive feelings will make him more likely to repeat the behavior.

Expecting an introvert to be a social butterfly is unrealistic, but helping your child become more comfortable around others and giving him the necessary social skills to make friends and participate in activities will help him live a fuller, happier life.

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