Shy three year-old doesn't want to go to school

My daughter who turned 3 on August 5 started going to preschool 5 days/week this fall. She's always been very attached to me and I consider her to be shy. She was doing pretty well in school but after an incident when she was pushed by another child she started refusing to go. Her problem is that she's not assertive and will not defend herself. She cries and expects me (if I happen to be around) to do the talking for her. She behaves the same way at home with her 19 month old brother. I have told her that she needs to use her words and tell the aggressor to STOP. The situation has improved somewhat, but she still tells me that she doesn't want to go to school. Is there anything else I can do to help her?


It is often difficult for shy children to adjust to school because they need a little more time than other children to feel comfortable in their surroundings. It is very important that your daughter feel safe in her classroom so that she can begin to use her words and find other children to play with.

That is the responsibility of the teacher. Hopefully, you have been in touch with her to explain your daughter's feelings. The teacher needs to talk to your daughter and explain that she will help your daughter be safe. Then there needs to be consistent discipline, such as time out, which your daughter can watch, for any offenders. Gradually, she will begin to feel safe again.

What you can do at home is try to get your daughter to express herself. Ask her "What are you feeling?" and "What would you like?" questions. Then - and this is the hard part - you have to wait for her answers. You can tell her that you don't really know what she wants, that she needs to say it herself. When she does, be sure to praise her: "You spoke so well! I love when you tell me your feelings!"

Eventually she should be able to tell you what's on her mind. She may always be shy, but, with the same encouragement at home and at school, she should be able to express herself when she's feeling comfortable.

Need Advice?
Get answers from iVillage experts and other moms just like you!
Question Details
  1. Pick a subject:
Connect with 1,039,394 members just like you
Share your knowledge, ask questions.