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Shy 3-Year-Old

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My daughter is a little over three and I worry that I should send her to preschool for 2 years before kindergarten. She is very rarely around children her age and she is a very shy girl but wants to interact with the kids when she's around them. I know she tells me she doesn't want to go to school unless I stay all day with her, but I wonder if 2 days a week for a couple hours will help her social skills as well as her worry of other adults taking care of her.

A: You don't need to send your daughter to preschool to prepare her for kindergarten. Your daughter's shyness, lack of peer contact, and desire to socialize with other kids would indicate a preschool program might be a great idea. I think your idea of her attending for only a few hours per week is a sound one. Observe a few preschools that have come highly recommended. It's important that the preschool's philosophy and its staff combine to provide your daughter with a nurturing, stimulating environment. Any preschool should let you come in to observe at any time. Those that want to schedule a specific time or discourage your visiting should be avoided. You can also take your daughter along as well, perhaps independent from your individual visits.

Of course she is going to be somewhat afraid of the mention of this new experience and being away from mommy - that's normal. Maybe there is an opportunity for you to volunteer at the school your daughter will attend. Usually the drop off time will be the roughest for the both of you. We have articles on our site on all aspects of the preschool experience. Click on to that age/stage section and select what you need. Don't introduce this idea to your daughter with attendant anxiety on your part. She will pick up on any direct or subtle anxious cues from you and internalize them. I'd go ahead with your plan with excitement and optimism. Good luck.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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