Why I stopped saying "my daughter is shy"

Right behind me is where Bee likes to be whenever we're in a new environment.  She would hold onto me hand, freeze on the spot, and peer out at the other kids from my side.  Other moms and kids would smile at her, some approached her and said "hi".  I would nudge her to say "hi" back but nothing came from her.  I would respond to them in her place, "she's a little shy" and they nodded back at me as if understood.

English is my 2nd language, shy in Vietnamese can be taken as "quiet, cautious" and the other meaning is "embarrass".  To me it doesn't have a negative connotation.  However, after repeating it a few times, I realized I accidentally labeled my daughter, just so I can explain to other why she doesn't respond to them.  I unintentionally gave Bee a "disorder" :-(  I feel horrible.  Bee has no issue.  She just need time to warm up to people.  She's cautious of her surrounding, of who's around.  She likes to observe people before opening herself up to them.  Which is a very good trait to have.  She told me she doesn't want to talk to people she doesn't know.  She said "I don't know them, they are strangers !"  Another excellent point !  and this is where I fail her :-(

I taught Bee about strangers, to avoid them, don't talk to them, and then here I am, unintentionally making her talk to people she deemed "strangers".  They aren't my friends or family so yes they are strangers to us.  She's too young to understand that it's ok to have a conversation with someone at the playground or on the transit or in a line up.  It all depends on the situation.  For now I rather her treat them as strangers and stay away.

Lately I've just let her be.  She doesn't have to say "hi" if she doesn't want to.  When she doesn't respond to others, I don't feel the need to answer others or say anything to Bee.  I need to respect her choice, the little control she has in her life.  Sometime someone will say to us "oh she's shy", I would just smile and say "she doesn't know you".  It's been working well for us.  She doesn't feel she needs to answer them or me.  Wish I figure it out sooner !