DS has always been a fairly shy and sensitive little boy. He has always been timid around strangers until he gets to know them. He was very particular about who would hold him as a baby and even now as a nearly 2.5 year old if a stranger talks to him at the shops he will turn away (most times, sometimes he will bless them with a smile - usually only older women though for some reason!) If we go to a playground with other children already playing there he will stand back and observe for awhile before working up the courage or confidence to get involved. If a kid he doesn't know attempts to come up and touch him before he's ready he'll freak out. Once he's happy playing though he's happy - but it takes him quite awhile to 'warm up'.
This morning we had a music class (first one for the new year but I did take him to these classes last year). From the minute we got there he buried his face into my skirt and cried. He then refused to participate and got more upset whenever I tried to gently encourage him to do so. In the end I spent about 3/4 of the class just standing at the back of the room with him, talking to him quietly and trying to calm him down. He wasn't happy until we eventually left.
He is not in daycare but does attend playgroup, play dates and of course music class. He REALLY enjoys playing with other kids that he is friends with (ones we see every week or so) one-on-one or in very small groups but seems to freak out in a larger group setting especially if there's several unfamiliar faces. I can actually kind of understand this as I am similar which is why I think his behavior is very much a reflection of his personality rather than just a phase. It worries me though as I feel my own shyness possibly held me back from doing a lot as a child/teenager/young adult and I would hate for the same to happen to him. I am a lot less shy now than I used to be but it's taken me a lot of years to get to this point.
I am crying writing this because I just don't really know what to do. I hate seeing him so upset and awkward especially when other kids around him are all having fun. Obviously I don't want to push him out of his comfort zone completely and make things worse but in situations like this morning where he is just crying and obviously doesn't want to be there I don't want to just give up and leave either. Help?