When is a child's behavior just mild shyness that will fade with time and experience and when is a child in need of some additional help? These are difficult questions to answer since there are no precise tests to measure shyness and no way to look into the future to see how a child will grow and develop.
Shykids.com is staffed by people who have had first hand experience being shy and raising shy children. While our background is not in psychiatry, we can tell you that we have seen many children who were painfully shy and unwilling to talk to anyone unfamiliar when they were pre-schoolers who grew up to be socially active and comfortable in group settings. We have also seen children who did not overcome their shyness and suffered through painful teen years and young adulthood.
The decision on how to help your child is yours alone to make. We believe that there is much you can do right in your own home and with the cooperation of teachers in school to help your shy child or teen. There are times, however, when outside help is needed. We've provided the following links to provide you with more information about social anxieties.
Selective Mutism.org - The Selective Mutism & Childhood Anxiety Disorders Group believes that selective mutism (a social anxiety disorder) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed disorder today. Provides a detailed description of selective mutism with advice for diagnoses and treatment.
To read a discussion with members of this group, go to interview.
Algy.com - The Anxiety panic internet resource site. A good site to visit to remind us of the difference between common childhood fears and more serious psychological issues.
AACAP.org - American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. A professional organization site. A useful resource in finding professional help for children.
Anxieties.com - Covers a broad range of anxieties, with good explanations of social phobias and advice on how to overcome negative thoughts and fears.
HealthyPlace.com - While directed toward adults, this site provides some information and tips on overcoming social anxieties which may prove helpful to children as well.