Need Advice....Daughter is too shy...how to break the habit.

[deleted account] ( 8 moms have responded )

My daughter is 12 years old and I'm having a hard time with her being too shy. If that's possible. See, everytime we go some place or do something....she never wants to venture off and do her own thing. I know that in a way, its a good thing but I feel that if she doesn't grow out of it now, it's going to be much harder to break her out of it later. When we go shopping she's right there behind me like a tail. She doesn't like to go outside to play and prefers to stay in the house reading a book. I know reading a book is great for her but a kid is a kid and they need to be a kid and go outside and play, make friends, etc...

My husband sarcastically says that I need to cut the umbilical cord. He says I'm too over protective of her and that she needs to be more independent. In my opinion, she's only 12 years old and definately, she does need to be more independent but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to help her become more independent.

Any suggestions from moms who have daughters around my girl's age would be really appreciated.

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Ann - posted on 10/12/2010

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Oh I just thought of something we did together that helped my daughter a bit...we took part in a play together. That way I was there but she did her part too. Also I got her into chior and this has become an outlet and sort of a release place for her. Just some thoughts, hope it helps :)

Ann - posted on 10/12/2010

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My daughter is 13 and extremely shy. She was a lot worse then she is now and I think its because we work on that on pretty much a daily basis. I've gotten her teachers, coaches, family, just anyone who is close to her to help by making her voice wants etc, she is nudged gently but often to go beyond her comfort zone and I think she actually likes trying a little too now because its been going on so long. I always show her how proud I am of her accomplishments too, no matter how small. And if she can't push herself to try once that's ok and I make sure she knows it. Try finding things to do together that you can easily set her aside for part of. Always let her know you're close in case it gets too scary or overwhelming to try. Hope this helps, its sort of hard putting it down here. Good luck

Laura - posted on 10/11/2010

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First of all, does your daughter have any hobbies or interests? Has she expressed an interest in something? You might start expanding her environment by finding an activity that she likes and enrolling her in a class or program involving that interest. This could be something through your local YMCA, library, or parks department. See if her school offers any after-school clubs or activities that she might enjoy. If you have a local Boys and Girls Club consider signing her up; they often host fun programs for the members. Any of these ideas would give her an opportunity to socialize and make new friends. I suggest NOT making this outside activity an option; make it an expectation! This is something of her choice, but you expect her to participate. This is also a shift in your behavior--you are changing what you expect of your daughter's behavior. Right now you don't express any expectations in her behavior--you say you want her to do something, but you aren't creating any expectations that she actually change her behavior. Start by shifting your perceptions.

Next, your best parenting tool for this task will be communication! Find a quiet time where you can talk to your daughter about the importance of outside or extracuricular activities. This is your chance to express your new expectations of her behavior. Let her know that she is old enough to start exploring her interests and that you want her to choose an activity to participate in. No more sitting around the house! Make a list if you need to and let her pick an activity. Remember, I suggest you make this an expectation and not an option. This is the approach that my husband and I have taken with our 12 year old daughter and now we have to set limits as to how many activities she does!

Your daughter is 12 years old and should be more independent. She is entering puberty and is no longer a little girl! Do you leave her home alone at all? Does she have any responsibilities at home such as chores? What are your expectations in this area? This can also be an opportunity to define expectations of indepent behavior. Set house rules for being alone in the house (if you don't have them already) and start expecting her to contribute with some chores. You no longer need to do all of the housework! ; ) Teach your daughter how to fix some basic meals along with basic kitchen safety; teach her how to do her laundry; show her how to use some common household appliances, etc. Some of these skills can become weekly chores for her (also an opportunity for earning an allowance!). This time spent with your daughter will go a long way in helping her become more confident and independent in her actions.

Finally, understand that your daughter may just be introverted (likes being by oneself, not very social). Even introverts need to socialize, though! If she becomes anxious, frightened or nervous by the thought of being around others, though, you might want to consider taking her to your family doctor or a mental health professional for an assessment--"Social Anxiety" is an actual condition that can be treated. Otherwise try engaging her in some outside activities first and see how that goes. Hope this helps and good luck to you and your family!

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Sue - posted on 09/07/2012

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having same problem with my daughter she also hates shool, finding hard to make friend and teachers say shes to shy.and needs to join clubs

[deleted account]

some kids need some parent-led motivation (ie. force! :D). Volunteer her at the local library or something. That way she gets an afterschool activity that is relevant to what she actually likes to do. I find that with my 11 y/o SD if I give her the choice between one thing and doing nothing, she'll choose nothing every time, so I have to give her a little push. Of course I use my judgement so the force isn't used to make her do something she doesn't like, but to nudge her in a certain direction to do something she might not have chosen to do but actually enjoys when she gets into it.

Julie - posted on 10/12/2010

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sometimes what we want for our kids is not what they want for themselves.
Is she unhappy? does she seem frustrated with her life? Does she want to be more involved? OR is that just the vision you have for her? We all have our" imagechild" the daughter in our mind that we held while we we nursed our babies and pictured sprawled on the floor with girls giggling at slumber parties and sewing costumes for cheer camp... but then suddenly they grow into their own people.. I have one that looks like a fashion model and has always attracted attention but wears boys clothes,plays computers games and keeps to herself. She fences. She has a few friends. She writes. But she is happy with who she is. Keep the door open to her interests. Liz voulenteers with animals, she goes to nursing homes and teachs them to use face book and computers..

Laura - posted on 10/12/2010

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It sounds like your daughter is just an introvert and that is part of who she is. While physical activity is important, most sports activities in school are team sports (at least before high school) and if she's an introvert then this will definitely not appeal to her! Play groups at her age tend not to work either--kids have formed their own cliques and groups at school and won't socialize very well outside of that context. My own daughter gets "clingy" when we are at local gatherings--she just doesn't have anything in common with the other kids present and prefers to stay with us. That is not an unusual behavior. A better alternative would be to have her ask one of her classmates over to your house to "study" or for a movie night. This can even become a regularly scheduled event for her!

If she likes to be by herself, try encouraging her to explore a "quiet" hobby like knitting or crocheting. Many communities have knitting & crocheting groups that meet at libraries or area churches. This would be something that you could do together in a very low-key but social context. Many knitting groups are small, too, so they aren't quite as intimidating! (I know, I belong to one!) Since she enjoys reading so much, you might check your library to see if they have a Book Club that meets. Again, these tend to be small groups so it shouldn't be so intimidating. This also would be something you two could do together, at least to start with.

Again I want to emphasize the importance of YOUR expectations of her behavior. If you want her to make some different choices, then you need to let her know that this is what you expect from her. If you want her to attend your son's football game, then make that expectation clear--it isn't an option or choice. She will most like grumble, complain and not be happy about it though! That's why you let her know that she has the power to name an activity of her choice with the expectation that she get out of the house once in a while and participate in it. You are not requesting a full schedule either--just ONE outside activity of her choice. You can even "sweeten" the offer by providing an incentive for her: If she participates in one outside activity, either for the duration of the program or for a minimum amount of time (6 weeks, for example) then she will earn something. That "something" can be related to her chosen activity or it can be something that she really wants or likes. An incentive is NOT a bribe--a bribe is a prize given to avoid or distract negative behaviors; an incentive is a prize given to encourage desired or positive behaviors. Remember that you are frustrated because your daughter is making choices for herself that you basically don't like or agree with and you are wanting her to make different choices. Setting a goal with an incentive to back it up might help! It certainly won't hurt...Good luck, 12 year olds can be frustrating anyway! : )

[deleted account]

Thank you ladies.....I've tried everything you all have wrote about.....
I am greatful that I can communicate openly with her on a daily basis.....her only hobby is to read. She does stay home by herself after school for about 2 hours and during this time she does her homework and reads. When she is at school, she is fine. She interacts with other students, participates in sports, socializes. The problem that I have is only when she goes out with us. We've tried to interact with play groups thinking it will help her but she just scuttles behind me or her dad and just won't get involved. I've taken her to two doctors and questions social anxiety and the doctors did testing and said she don't have it..... As far as puberty, we've been past the beginning stage since age 8. I'm very supportive of her and try to encourage her to participate in sports, her response to me is that she plays sports in school and don't want to after school. I try to take her with me to my son's football games but she don't want to go there either.

URG!!!! so frustrating......once again ladies thanks for all your ideas....

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