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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My son is 4.5 years old and is a bit shy with strangers, teachers,

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My son is 4.5 years old and is a bit shy with strangers, teachers, and other adults that address him. He is not very verbal at school when a problem arises and the other kids talk, talk, talk about what happened and he is very brief . He is also very brief at home with details about school or issues or doesn't want to talk about it. I know being shy is ok and not a negative thing really but we would like him to be more verbal about his thoughts when needed like at a restaurant with a waitress, a teacher, etc. He is going to have kindergarten tests in a couple months and we want to make sure that in the assessment he does not shut down.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Bonnie replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,

I am wondering....has he always been like this or was it a sudden change?

Expert:  Bonnie replied 4 years ago.

Hello Ken, (Since you are not online I am going to answer assuming that he has always been a bit shy)

What you have described is a boy with a specific temperament. Some children are easy going, others are difficult and others are slow-to-warm-up. This essentially is his personality and is a trait meaning that it basically will not change and is the essence of who he is.

Slow to warm up children should not be pushed into social situations. You are doing the right thing by easing him into it and supporting him by talking for him. That is not to say that you will never encourage him to "stretch" his ability but slowly and in his time. If he is pushed too quickly, he might shut down (as you fear) and he may develop selective mutism where he stops talking altogether in certain situations. So for now, model good interaction with waitress and teacher but let him observe first and open up at own pace.

The teacher and the person doing his testing will know how to approach him to avoid shutting down (so don't feel you need to get him ready for this in any way). It is their job and they work with slow-to-warm-up temperament children everyday.

I hope this helps but please feel free to ask more.

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