Temperament and Parenting

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B-DI News

Shyness & Temperament
Kate's Answer

Dear Put Down,

I asked Dr. Sean McDevitt, editorial consultant, to answer this question:

"One of the major findings in the NYLS study of temperament was that children tend to cluster into different types, some easy and some spirited. One of the spirited clusters was called "slow to warm up" ; these youngsters seemed to hold back from new experiences including situations that involved new people, often both new adults and new children. After a period of "getting used to" the new people, the slow to warm up child would engage with them and within a short time would interact just as the others did, without further problems. These observations suggested that shyness may be a component of a child's temperament, or behavioral individuality. These characteristics are largely biologically determined and not just a result of environmental experience.

The other point to be made is that children can be challenging to parent when they are withdrawing and passively resistant, not just when their conduct is inappropriate. What is important is to give the child enough time and opportunity to get comfortable with the newness before giving up or deciding that she isn't 'ready' for the experience."

I hope this helps.