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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How to help a shy preschooler feel more comfortable?

    Our 5 year old daughter is very shy in new situations (making friends, meeting strangers, etc). We would like her to feel more comfortable so that she can grow to be a confident girl. Advice?
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    Thanks

    Caroline Issa

    Psychologist

    I am a fully registered Psychologist with over seven years of experience practicing Psychology. I first came into studying Psychology after completing a fashion design … View Profile

    What you can do is identify when your child is shy as you have done i.e. making friends and meeting strangers. For you child to become more confident in these situations it is a good idea to show them how to do it. This means role modeling confident social behaviours e.g. saying hi to people at the school and starting a conversation. Another way is to help your child to introduce herself to other children at the school and arranging for play dates with her and the children from the preschool. By arranging for play dates it allow for your child to have a safe area where they can socialise and get to know other children without feeling scared and shy as it will be in a safe environment she knows well.

  • Rachel Tosh

    Speech Pathologist

    Rachel is a speech pathologist specialising in speech, language, literacy and feeding therapy with more than 10 years of experience. Her aim is to help … View Profile

    It sometimes helps to think of your child's interaction in these situations as part of a graded scale of interaction rather than just “shy” vs “confident”. This can help you to identify how to encourage stepping up to the next level without overwhelming or pressuring her.

    The first step is for your daughter to tolerate the environment without being distressed, next they will actively watch what is happening, then to be able to participate in non-verbal ways (eg raising a hand to wave, passing a toy to someone etc), then to be able to interact in practiced set ways (eg saying a set phrase such as “hello” or “thank you”) and finally to be able to interact in a more spontaneous conversations.

    With my own daughter we needed to prepare her for new situations and talk through what she could do and say in those situations before we introduced the situation. As she got older she started to develop the ability to be able to prepare herself for new situations and now she copes quite well with them.

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