My 18month oldis very shy and hides be­hind my leg all the time – how can I help him feel more con­fi­dent?

Mother & Baby (UK) - - HERE TO HELP -

Me­lanie Will­sher, Dorset

It’s very typ­i­cal for tod­dlers to be cau­tious in new sit­u­a­tions or around un­fa­mil­iar peo­ple. It could be your son’s tem­per­a­ment, or he could be go­ing through a stage of sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, which comes and goes over the first three years and tends to peak at around 10 to 18 months. Group ac­tiv­i­ties such as birth­day par­ties or play­dates are a good way for him to be­come more com­fort­able with so­cial sit­u­a­tions. Stay with him while he warms up to the en­vi­ron­ment. Avoid calling him ‘shy’ or be­ing crit­i­cal of his shy­ness, and of­fer un­der­stand­ing along with en­cour­age­ment, for ex­am­ple, say­ing: ‘There are lots of peo­ple here, it is quite noisy.’

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