Shy 3.5 yr old? — The Bump
Pre-School

Shy 3.5 yr old?

My 3.5 yr old has a hard time making friends - he rarely engages with other kids and lately I've noticed even with his neighborhood friends or other kids that he knows from a playgroup and sees fairly frequently, it takes him a long time to warm up.  Is this normal?  He just started preschool and seems to be handling it really well, but I see many of the other kids already making friends and engaging with one another while my son is on his own much of the time.  We had a playdate with one of the other kids who now runs up to say hi to my son and asks him to play but my son just kind of hangs back and does his own thing.  Will he eventually open up once he feels more comfortable?  Tell me success stories of your shy children, I feel sad for him right now and am not quite sure how to help (we've tried role playing, talking about friends, etc..)
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Re: Shy 3.5 yr old?

  • My DS is the same way and he has been at DC since he was 12 weeks old. Last weekend we were at a gymnastics birthday party all the kids were participating and he just stood there until he became a teacher's helper. After about 20/30 minutes he started to participate. I know he needs time to warm up to places and he needs to observe places before he becomes comfortable. It bugs me that he is this way since that is how I am too which I hate about myself. I just support him and let him know when ever he is ready he can participate. Sometimes he surprises me and will be dancing at a music class with no reassurance needed.
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  • My oldest is very shy too.  When we would go to parks he would only play on the equipment if there were no other kids there, he wouldn't talk to other kids, things like that.  We even have nephews around his age that he would sometimes shy away from.  I figured it had alot to with the fact that he is home with me and his younger brother all day, so we put him is 3 yr old preschool last year (he is now in 4 yr old preschool).  Its been great for him, he is still very shy but does evertually open up and play with the other kids.  Sometimes he is still too shy to participate in the activites at school where the attention is focused on him but we can work with that.  He used to cling to my husband or myself at family functions instead of playing with the kids and now he runs off and plays without us.  Its so nice to see the changes in him and trust me, pushing him won't do anything but make it worse.  Now little brother is the shy one, but not quite as bad.  I was super shy when I was little so it shouldn't surprise me but sometimes I feel like people would look at him like there is something wrong with him because of it.  Don't fret, it is totally normal.  Maybe if you got him in a play group (check with your local library, ours has free classes for kids)  it could help :)      

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  • Yes!  You'll probably be amazed when you see him next year at school.  DS was super shy and we put him in 3 yo preschool last year.  He didn't talk to anyone until March.  He did what he was told and behaved well, but played by himself and didn't speak at all for most of the year.  I was really sad when I found out some of the kids referred to him as "the kid who doesn't talk". 

    I asked the teacher who she thought would be a good playmate for him and she mentioned 2 other quieter kids and I set up playdates over the summer.  The 3 of of them are now good friends and play together every morning this school year.  Other than that, we didn't really push him to socialize because his teacher said he was happy in school even though he didn't really interact with anyone.  Maybe you could also ask the teacher for playmates.  I thnk the kids who were social enough to run up to DS and say hi were a little too outgoing for him and scared him a little.

    This year, DS is completely different.  He's still a little on the quiet side, but on the first day, his new teacher told me he was talking a lot and he even went up in front of the class during Show and Tell day to talk about his toy.  He runs into class and immediately looks for his friends to play with them.  These are things we would have never imagined could happen last year.  Just give it some time!

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