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Shy and timid children

Q: Wasma is our 4 year old only child. We were living separately in Madras for 2 years till November when we moved back to Calcutta to live with our parents. Wasma was always a shy girl but of late we have started noticing that she has become extremely shy and timid. Whenever any guest comes she sticks to her mother or starts crying unnecessarily. We have given her the best of everything and she has also travelled a lot at such a young age. The current school of Wasma is her third school because of my transfers. But now I will be in Calcutta for many years. Can you please suggest what steps we can take to make her a bold girl.

A:Your childs behavior is very normal for her age when she seems to go through an insecurity complex about her parents leaving her. Most children about her age have a strong attachement, usually to one parent, and like the parent to be around all of the time. In your daughters case, this feeling of insecurity could have been enhanced due to the frequent change of environement that she has had wehich has not allowed her to settle down in one place and get used to any one set of people. It does not seem from your letter that there is anything to worry about. Most children, as will probably your daughter, outgrow this stage in a year or two. Till then, be sure to provide extra love and attention to your daughter. Instead of getting embarrassed or chastising your child in front of people, you could try talking to her and making her understand that her mother will not go away and the fact that she is busy when people are around does not make her less attentive to the daughter. In the meanwhile, you could try strategies like distracting your child with toys when you have guests at your place. If the guests have children her age and she refuses to play with them, the mother could initiate her into the play/games and then quietly slip away for sometime when she seems to be engrossed. However, all this does not mean that you encourage her to cry for the mother all the time. Set limits and be firm with her when she is at home and not in front of strangers. At this time, she can be firmly told not to stick to the mother all the time. Do not worry; Wasma will outgrow this behavior in due time.

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