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I have a 21 month old daughter. She started talking when she was about a year old; right now she's extremely talkative and energetic around us. My wife has been a stay at home mom since our daughter was born and I also spend plenty of time at home interacting with her.

We noticed that in any environments where there are other people, she becomes very reserved. At first we thought she was just a little bit shy and she'd get past this once she becomes familiar with other kids and grown-ups (we're not very social either although, once she was born, we tried to change this).

She now knows all of the other kids on our street, she talks about how she'll play with them and always asks us to go outside and play with them. Every once in a while she actually does play with them and she even becomes talkative. But, most of the time, she doesn't do anything, she only wants to sit in our arms, staying quiet the whole time.

Is this normal behavior? Is there any way of getting her to open up and start interacting more with others?

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It's definitely normal for kids of this age to go through a stage of being very shy.

Also, it's completely normal for some people to be more introverted than others. Our society puts a lot of pressure on us introverts to become or act more like extroverts.

When you say:

we're not very social either

This leads me to believe that her parents might be introverted too, which can be genetically passed on to offspring.

However, there is a difference between introverted and shy - what often works for introverts to be happy and less shy in a social setting is interacting with a people that they know well, a few at a time. Introverts tend to be uncomfortable or find it energetically taxing in a large social gathering, but get energy from deep connections with a few good friends.

It's a bit early yet for your nearly 2-year-old to form these deep connections, but maybe try inviting over one or two neighborhood kids at a time to your house for a play date, instead of the larger gatherings in the street. She may never become 100% comfortable with the idea of playing outside with the bigger group, but her interest in it suggests that with time and with a few good strong connections in the group, she will gain the confidence to get up from your lap and join the fun.

  • We're trying to bring a few kids at a time to our house and see how things go. We had 2 kids over just last evening; at first, she clung to us and, in general, was silent. But, after a while, she started playing with the other kids. Maybe I'm just too worried; I agree that it's most definitely to early to draw ant conclusions. – alex Sep 10 '15 at 12:21

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