"Well, hello there! What's your name?" An innocent question like that turns my happy-go-lucky toddler into a shrinking violet. At home, she's a veritable wild woman, pontificating from her soapbox and hurling herself onto the couch from the ottoman with wild abandon. In public, however, she's the very picture of timidity: thumb in mouth, peeking out beneath her mop of curly brown hair, and clinging to her mother's leggings. There's nothing wrong with being an introvert, but I still need my shy toddler daughter to know that her voice matters.
All evidence to the contrary (based on the current iteration of my personality), I was a painfully shy kid. I was most happy playing by myself in a corner, acting out little stories with my barrettes as the main characters. In kindergarten I was sent to the nurse's office with chickenpox and was so quiet they forgot about me. The secretary eventually found me crying silent tears into the sleeve of my hot pink windbreaker. I was never fully at ease around my biological father, so when we went out to dinner with him my sister placed my order for me.
I came out of my shell in high school, bolstered by a close-knit group of friends who loved and supported me (and still do). My toddler's shyness may be something she grows out of, just like I did. Or perhaps she'll always be on the bashful side. That's totally OK. It's not appropriate me to try to change the person she fundamentally is. However, it is my job to teach her the power and importance of her own unique voice.