Ask the Experts

Parenting a Shy Child

“When my eight-year-old son was younger, he liked to be the center of attention,” one reader tells us. “Lately, he gets shy when he is in a group. Is this due to his attention deficit (ADHD), or something else?”

Most children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at least a couple of years behind other kids developmentally, but there may be age-related developmental issues going on. In any event, I would check with your child’s pediatrician or a child psychologist to see if this is the case.

Preschool and kindergarten children are typically not shy and will interrupt, ask questions, and blurt out anything. As they get older, they learn to socialize and withhold their enthusiasm for saying whatever comes to mind. Maybe your child lagged behind his peers in doing this and was made fun of, so he has now become closemouthed because of that criticism.

It’s a good idea to prep him before social interactions — how to ask questions, listen to the answers, and follow up — so he will stay engaged with friends and feel more a part of the group.