When your kid shirks social interaction, hiding behind your legs at the playground, or hugging the wall at a birthday party, it’s easy to assign a label: shy. But a socially withdrawn child might not be ‘shy’ at all - they may simply be an introvert, they may be in the throes of normal separation anxiety, or, in rare cases, they might have a social phobia.
It was a beautiful summer day. My daughter Chelsea was 10 and after a week of hectic activity, we were finally ready for summer camp. I read out the items from the camp list: “Shorts? Check. T-shirts? Check. Rain gear? Check.” Everything she needed was stacked on her bed. Each piece of clothing now bore a label with her name. All of her clothing for camp was clean and folded. All Chelsea had to do now was put it in her duffel bag laid out exactly for that purpose.
School, sports, after-school activities, birthday parties and social commitments - all of these things compete for your child’s energy and attention on a daily basis. And now that kids are hopping on social media at increasingly younger ages, the pressure to participate can become fierce early on. All those images of friends playing sports, hanging out at a pool party or posing together in a gleeful gaggle may cause your child to feel like their schedule doesn’t quite measure up.
We’ve all seen it: the parent who stands on the sidelines criticizing the decisions made by coaches and officials; the one who yells at their own child when they make a mistake; the fan that hurls rude remarks to the opposing team; and the parent who always places blame. Some of us have even had the misfortune of witnessing brawls.
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