Questions From Readers

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: April 3, 2011 | Topic: Questions from readers

There are ways to help a shy child. There are ways to help a shy child.

I have a 6-year-old daughter who is very shy in public, noticeably more than the other children in the same group activities. With family and close friends she is not shy at all, but in situations like scouts or camps, she doesnít seem to be able to fit in with the other kids. Other than this, she does well at school and at home. What can we do to help her develop social skills?

It is diagnostically significant that your daughter is fine with family and close friends. That means she has the social skills, but for whatever reason is reluctant to interact with others when not in the security of close relationships.

First, you are doing the right thing in keeping her involved with various group activities. Do not expect this to change her personality, but it will give her lots of exposure to positive social interactions.

Second, be careful about pressuring her too much. Her social interactions will increase as her comfort level increases.

Third, be sure to praise her positive social contacts when they do occur. Place her in lots of situations where she can socially interact with others. Communicate expectations regarding social interactions, such as acknowledging or saying hello to adults.

Finally, you may wish to consider seeking professional help under one of the following two conditions. First, does this represent a change in her behavior? Second, have you heard from teachers or others that her shyness is having a significant detrimental impact on her development? There are group therapies for young children that can be effective in enhancing her social development.
Iím a freshman in high school and want to know how I can get my mom to give me more freedom. She is way too overprotective and doesnít realize Iím only going to sneak behind her back unless she lightens up on me.

The amount of privileges that you get should be dependent on your behavior, not on what you say. Have you proven yourself to be responsible around the house, achieved good grades, interacted well with others, followed through on promises, avoided drugs and alcohol, and treated others in a respectful way? If you have been doing those things, then itís reasonable to discuss additional privileges with your mom.

However, the fact that you are threatening to be deceitful to avoid her rules suggests that your mom is probably doing the right thing in continuing to closely supervise your activities.

My 11-year-old son plays with his feces, often in the tub. He has been diagnosed with anxiety, but Iím wondering what this could be an indication of and what we should do about it.

This is an extremely unusual behavior for an 11-year-old that may be symptomatic of a number of problems. You should seek a psychological evaluation for your son as soon as possible.

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Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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