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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Symptoms of Shyness

09/20/2007

Question:

My 5 year old son just started Kindergarten in a new public school. as a child he was extremely fun loving and outgoing; however when i gave birth to my second child about a year and half ago, he slowly started becoming introverted and talking in baby talk. His lack of social interaction worried us so much that we took him to behavior thearpsits and a child psychologist who did not find anything different except that he may be going through a growth phase.

He is slowly becoming more outgouing again over the past 6 months, but is still extermely shy. His teacher at school tells me that he barely speaks 4-5 words all day. He likes to join other kids in play but is very hestiatant. he plays by himself quite often. She also said that he did not repsond to instructions and did not pay attention in class many times. Otherwise, he is NEVER rude or bad behaved. He rarely throws tantrums. He loves going to school everyday and does not seem to mind if other kids group together. He is very smart and knows his letters, numbers and basic reading. he finds it difficult to focus on any one project till completion though.

He is otherwise very happy and generally has a big smile on his face. On teh whole he does not talk too much even at home. it is just that in large crowds, parties or groups like his classs, he tends to be very quite and barely speaks. He still sometimes talks in a sing song voice like a baby. he loves his younger sibling and plays with him very nicely.

Is his behavior just part of adjusting to a new environment. Is this amount of shyness and being quite normal for a 5 year old (most of teh other kids in his class are extermely loud and vocal).I am a very concerned parent and would like to help my child in any way that could. Thank you for your response.

Answer:

Shyness occurs in 20% of the population and can be apparent at a young age. Your child’s regression after the birth of a sibling is common and seems to have reversed itself, leaving his innate shy nature that you describe. The appropriate tack to take is for you as parent to involve your child in appropriate peer related activities in small groups to both increase his social skills and to overcome his natural tendency to be reticent.

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Response by:

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