THE SHY CHILD by Philip G. & Shirley Radl Zimbardo


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Though set in the context of childhood and adolescent shyness, the advice offered here is hardly new: parents should work on ""Caring, Sharing, Daring, and Swearing"" (the latter is a code word for helping children express negative emotions). Zimbardo, a researcher with the Stanford Shyness Clinic, provides lots of information about how ""shys"" and others perceive shy persons--shy souls see themselves as less interesting and more generally fearful, while others see them as more self-pitying and more likely to give up in the face of adversity. Alongside are examples of thoughtless, almost cruel behaviors that contributed to young people's shyness: a father whose nickname for his son was ""Dummy""; Flower Day at a junior high school--when students sent a flower to whomever they admired, and some received none while one girl got 55 (and getting one from a teacher was worse than none). A series of questions for parents about how they interact with their children, and another that provides a means of evaluating teacher behavior, serve to highlight problem areas at home and at school. But Zimbardo's specific suggestions for the prevention and cure of shyness read like typical parenting manuals: don't ridicule your child (labels stick forever), provide social opportunities (but don't push them into playing with others), help your child to feel secure (set limits, make rules, but do your research first if you're going to prohibit pot smoking). And a chapter written specifically for young people, ""The Student's Shyness Handbook,"" outlines seven steps (from ""the decision to change"" to ""dealing with the opposite sex"") that sound so easy it's a wonder there are shy people at all. Except for the background, not much help.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1981
Publisher: McGraw-Hill