The value of shyness

Psychologist & Author Gordon Neufeld, PhD, explains why shyness can be a good thing in children and help them stay safe when they are young
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The value of shyness

Many parents are concerned about shyness in their children. We should not be concerned. We should be concerned if a child is not shy. That actually is of a far more concern. Shyness is absolutely natural and part of the attachment repertoire. We are never shy with people we are close to and we shy away from closeness from talking to and agreeing with, those we are not attached to. It's natures way of protecting existing attachments. It shows up at about 5 months of age. The first term for shyness is stranger protest. Nature says; okay. This child has the attachments they need and we are going to protect them from attaching to anyone else. Now they can only attach to the people mom and dad are attached to. This is the way it was designed to be able to build a consistent village of attachment for a child to be raised. Unfortunately, shyness has become pathologized as social anxiety by individuals who do not understand shyness at all. If we honored it. If we understood it. It would tell us that nature is only trying to protect the existing attachments. If we go in through the child's existing attachments, then the shyness just melts away. Children will grow out of shyness, as they need attachments less. But when they are small, shyness is just part of their attachment.

Psychologist & Author Gordon Neufeld, PhD, explains why shyness can be a good thing in children and help them stay safe when they are young


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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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