terribly shy 3 year old

  • My daughter is 3 years old and I cannot seem to get her to break out of her shell. I'm a stay at home mom for my 2 daughters. Other than mom and me programs or library visits she's normally at home with her sister and me. In the presence of adults she clings to me and doesn't warm up for at least an hour. With men its even worst, she hides her face and cries, unless its her father, grandfathers, and uncles. It even takes her a hour to warm up to children and still shows signs of discomfort. I took her to her first ballet class today that is a child only program. She cried/screamed for the first 10 minutes then at the end of class the teacher told me she refused to participate and only stayed quiet when holding the teachers hand. The class consist of 10 girls aged 3-4, once a week, for 1 hour. I feel i should give her a month to try and settle in, but family is advising that forcing her is not the way to go. I don't know what to do. Please help!!!

  • I was a horribly shy child. Everyrthing embarrassed me and i didn't want to have anything to do with anyone that wasn't already close to me. Fortunately i grew out of it as i'm sure your daughter will too. I also am a stay at home mom and like me; my daughter is also pretty shy. I have a feeling it partly has to do with her being so sheltered as well as her age. I'm really interested in what some of the parents have to say here. I have a feeling i could use the advice in the future.

  • Well, that's a tricky thing to deal with! I might start out by trying to put your daughter in more situations where you are around but she is interacting with other kids. Try setting up some semi-regular play dates or find a play group to go to...sounds like you already have some library visits and things going. I think it's something that your daughter will grow out of as time goes on. I'd just continue to reassure her that you are coming back for her after dance class, that she will have a good time, and give her lots of hugs and kisses when she is done. Perhaps watch some videos and read some books from the library on ballet and dance. If it doesn't improve within a couple more dance classes, I'd maybe try again later. My son can get rather overwhelmed by large groups but eventually settles into things after several sessions. Hang in there! Your daughter will most remember your love and support as she deals with her shyness - it'll mean a lot to her. :-) 

  • Everyone has given such good advice on this topic already.  I just want to encourage you to continue to build upon positive experience with her, and the more times things go well the more willing she will be to keep trying as well.  I think if you need to stay with her while she has play dates or does a dance or swim class that is just fine.  Then slowly back out-maybe a bathroom break for you, and then build from 5 minutes away to ten.  She will get there, slow and steady!


  • The others have given some great advice, but I want to bring up another possibility. Have you spoken with her doctor? My son had some "quirky" behavior and actually had a mild sensory processing disorder. I'm certainly not suggesting that this is what your daughter suffers from, only that a talk with your pediatrician wouldn't hurt and he or she may be able to give you some great ideas to help your daughter overcome her shyness.