Dr. Sarah Jerstad, pediatric psychologist at Children’s Minnesota, explained to Minnesota Parent that some shyness in a child is developmentally normal but that if it persists or gets worse, it can disrupt functioning. This is known as extreme shyness. Dr. Jerstad narrowed down a typical treatment plan into three steps:
- Try to discover why a child feels fearful or anxious and learn how to support him or her.
- Help children develop coping strategies they can use in situations that make them feel anxious.
- Make a plan for slow, graduated exposure to new situations that will give the child a chance to practice socializing, including praise and rewards for being brave.
“As much as possible, this is a behavior that has to be practiced,” Dr. Jerstad said. “Get kids involved in social interactions in some way — sports, activities, programs like ECFE, where kids and parents can be interacting with other kids. Practice from an early age is really critical.”
Read the full Minnesota Parent article: Beyond Shy.