my almost 3.5 year old DS is such a super sweet guy, very silly and loving with people that he knows. however, he is exceedingly shy with new people. he went to a 2-3s program for the full school year, and though he had some separation struggles at the start, he did great for the rest of the year. (though, i will say, while he follows instructions pretty well, if there is a voluntary group activity he is often content to just do his own thing with whatever activity was occupying him and ignore everyone else.) recently school switched to camp, which meant going 5x/week instead of 3x, for 4 hours a day instead of 2.5, with mostly new kids and one new teacher, and he did amazingly well with the change.

i felt like maybe he had turned a bit of a corner on shyness and so i took a leap and signed him up for a weekend soccer class, which started this morning. it was pretty much a disaster. he sat on the sidelines and absolutely refused to participate, and started crying repeatedly wanting to go home. a few times when we stopped pushing him to participate he seemed to cheer up and laugh at the jokes the coach was making, but he never once had any interest in joining in. even after the class was over the coach tried to get him to do a few little things one on one and he was totally not into it.

he is very active and really enjoys activities and other kids once he's comfortable, so i feel like classes like these could be great for him! but i just have no idea how to successfully get him over the hump of how nervous he gets in new situations when it's an informal class like this (vs. school, where they have a whole structure set up to get him comfortable). should we just drop him off and walk away in hopes that the peer pressure in that situation causes him to participate (this one makes me really nervous given how upset he was today, but maybe it's this attitude on my part that is contributing to how shy he is?)? just bag it and try again when he's older? keep going and just let him sit there til he gets bored and decides to participate? we tried a small amount of bribery/rewards today and it was not super effective but i think we could probably do it in a more structured way. i would love to hear any tips or advice anyone has on this.