To Help a Shy Child, Listen

The New York Times:

Toward the end of the summer, I was seeing a middle-school girl for a physical. The notes from a clinic visit last spring said she was a good student but didn’t talk enough in class. So I asked her: Is this still a problem for you?

I’m shy, she said. I’m just shy.

Should I have turned to her mother and suggested — a counselor? An academic evaluation? Should I have probed further? How do you feel in school, do you have some friends, is anybody bullying you?

Or should I have said: Lots of people are shy. It’s one of the healthy, normal styles of being human.

If a child is not more comfortable after a month or so, parents should look at whether more help is needed, said Anne Marie Albano, director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders. Treatment usually involves cognitive behavioral strategies to help the child cope with anxiety.

All ranges of temperament have their uncomfortable, or even pathological, outer zones. Just as there are children whose rambunctious eagerness to participate makes trouble for them in school or signals the presence of other problems, there are children whose silence is a shout for help.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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