Marj writes:

My 11-yr-old daughter is very shy. How can I help her develop the social skills she needs without hurting her or pushing too hard.

Dr. Todd writes:

A little listening and coaching will go a long way.

First, ask her what situations she is the most shy in and make a top three list.

Second, come up with a simple plan for what to say and do in those situations. For example, if she is shy in saying hi to someone, the plan might be for her to pick a good time and place, say hi in a friendly way, and then ask a friendly question.

Finally, practice the plan together by role-playing. First, you show her how you would do it and then have her give it a try. Do it a few times, pretending she is at lunch, in P.E., or in an activity. This type of repeated practice will help build her skill and eventually make it start to seem easy, with repetition. Have her practice her new skill with dad and with grandparents when they come over. Be encouraging and let her set the pace. The more practice the better, as it will build her competence which will, in turn, build her confidence.

When she is ready, she can try it at school, but by then, she will have had a lot of practice under her belt. When she feels like this situation is going better, check it off your list and move on to situation number two. You will be showing her that there is no problem she can’t tackle, even if she needs a little help now and then. If she is really stuck, you can always consult with a child therapist who has experience with childhood social anxiety.

Dr. Todd

1 comment ()

1. knqfyah wrote:
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Thu, June 28, 2012 @ 4:42 PM