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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Shyness in School

06/05/2006

Question:

My 6 years old daughter has been in school 2 years now and I have had teachers saying to me that she is extremely quiet,nervous...at home she is so different,she will laugh, play, jump and talk with her two other sisters and myself(mummy) but I have noticed that at school she is a different person...she won`t even talk to me and if she does; she is always looking around to see that no one is watching her she also speaks very soft to me at that point and her behaviour is as if she was nervous She smiles at me but won't play or talk to any of her classmates. What could it the problem be and how can I as a parent help her?

Answer:

Extremely shy children are common and it can be quite a disability.  Getting over shyness early in life is the best tactic as it can grow into an adult problem that we call social phobia.  The anxiety tendency only asserts itself in public or group situations and leads to the behaviors and tendencies that you describe.  I would look for professional guidance and centers that specifically deal with anxiety in children or a specific "youth shyness" program. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati