Shyness in Teens
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Shyness in Teens
Our 12 year old daughter is very shy, and she looks miserable most of the
time. Because she is so shy, her body language gives off signals about how
uncomfortable she is, and I think other kids (and adults, too) find her
standoffish and glum/sulky. She is never the first to smile, but longs to be
included in groups, smiled at, and befriended.
As she gets older, her shyness is impacting her involvement in groups, such
as her softball team (where she feels like she does not totally belong, and
where she is not included in some events that the other girls have, such as b-
day parties and such), her singing in the school choir (the conductor says
cannot hear her, and she does not smile), and school (where she is neither
popular or unpopular, but does not seem to be on anyone's radar, including
Her days are frustrating for her, and she feels sad about her inability to
seen'' at school or softball or chorus, and then she comes home and explodes
at her two younger siblings. I guess my question is: Are there strategies or
classes that she can take to help her deal with her shyness? I think many
people are shy, but have learned to cope or mask their shyness so that it
does not impeed on their life. Where can she learn these skills?
I had an extremely shy girl for a piano student a few years
ago. She was so painfully shy, she could barely answer
questions, give eye contact or smile even though I knew her
for years. She saved her angry outbursts for her family,
which is really typical of shy people. Her wise parents
enrolled her in a program that utilized both one on one and
group counseling sessions called the ''Shyness Clinic''
through Stanford University. The girl made a total
transformation and is happy and successful at college. You
may be able to find something closer to you if you contact
them. The website is:
Best of luck to you - it really can be helped!
My very shy daughter was very upset from the age of ten on
about her ''invisibility''. She faked being sick to stay home
from school, and had headaches and stomach aches throughout
5th and 6th grades. By the time she was in middle school
she was desperate for attention. In high school she was
drinking and throwing herself at boys.
She managed to graduate from high school and even to get
into UC Davis where she crashed during her first semester.
She is now 19 and in an expensive treatment center in
Houston. I wish I had intervened at an earlier age as you
are doing. I do not have very startling advice - except get
her into long term therapy now. She needs to learn to love
herself as she is. She may believe as my daughter did that
getting attention is the most important thing in her life.
My daughter saw several Bay Area therapists who were very
good: Virginia Keeler-Wolfe; Preston Parsons; and Alison
Trules - all in Oakland. Lori Katzburg in Walnut Creek also
is very good.
I wish you and you daughter the best!
Your daughter sounds more sad than shy to me. I would
recommend that she be evaluated for therapy. After the
sadness is better there may be a good group that teaches
social skills if your daughter is still shy when she is not sad.
Have you considered a social skills group for your
daughter? It might be really helpful in terms of teaching
her how her body language and affect are perceived by her
peers and she can practice new skills in ways that feel
comfortable to her in a safe environment. My daughter
attended Dr. Kathryn McCarthy's social skills group and
received really valuable feedback on how some of her
behaviors (for example interrupting others) were affecting
her relationships. Dr. McCarthy is at: (510) 649-3399.
Dear Sad Mama,
You are not alone. My soon to be 13 year old has had
similiar social problems in that she didn't seem to
understand how to send social messages that were congruent
with what she wanted to communicate, both verbally and
She had no friends.
Fortunately, we got her into a social skills group of
several other teen girls who met weekly and, with the
direction of their amazing counselor, learned how to do,
think and project what was intuitively obvious to most
other kids. My daughter has blossomed as a result, and we
are now ready to move on so I think they may have a space
open. This place is truly wonderful. You can learn more
and contact them by gong to their website at
Now a Happy Mama
My now 15 year old son went to the Shyness Clinic (Stanford
U) when he was 13. Although I had high hopes, it was less
than successful, mostly due, I think, to my son's reluctance
to fully participate. One big problem was that there was no
group for his age when he went, so it was only one-on-one.
The approach, if I remember correctly, was Cognitive
Behavioral. There was a little progress and I liked the
therapist. He is now participating in a social skills group
that seems to be having more success. He actually likes
going. This more pracical approach seems to work better for
him. He is learning about body language, and non-verbal
communication, and conversation, and considering others, and
all those other aspects of being sociable that most of use
never even think of explicitly. I think we are on the right
Mom to another shy kid
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