33 answers

Interfering in My Son's Social Situations

My 9 year old son has always been shy. He is in third grade and has a handful of friends. We have regular playdates with about two boys, but he shows no interest in meeting other kids. He has tried sports before and didn't like it, so his socializing with kids his age occurs at school and church. When we are at parks and McDonalds, I always encourage him to go up to boys his age and start to play with them. Most of the time, the boys have allowed him to start playing. Yesterday a group of boys his age walked into the McDonalds play area. Since they looked like they were having fun, I encouraged my son to play with them. He kept saying he didn't want to and just sat with me. I finally told him that he could have extra Wii time if he made an effort to play with them. He then tried to join them and they said to each other, "hey there's that creepy kid." My son immediately walked back over to me and was very upset. I felt terrible and we left. My question is...do I stop pushing him to be more social with kids he doesn't know? Only encourage playing with classmates instead? I don't want this to happen again. I know that he may be "wired" to be a shy person, but it has affected him in school. His teacher wants him to talk more in school and has marked him down for his lack of participation in group activities. So I feel I should push him a bit. Any advice??

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What can I do next?

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I cen't think of anything worse than being forced to go talk to someone I don't feel comfortable in doing so. Just because you seem to be very outgoing doen't mean he is made up that way. If he has a few friends, be glad, and don't push. If he is happy, that is what is important, if he seems sad and wants more social that is a different story. (IF) and only if he is interested in projects like 4-H or boy scouts, that would be a way for him to interact with people with like interests without feeling like a sore thumb so to speak.

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When I was a kid I had 1 friend I was shy and didn't want to meet other people. Later in my teens my parents pushed me to go to teen activities I was miserable at them.
My Mom was shy and didn't really start going out to meet new people until she was in her 20's
Today when I tell my friends I was a shy child they don't believe me. I'm now that annoying happy bubbly person.
I would let him be.

More Answers

Hi M.. I have read through most of the responses and just wanted to add that being shy is painful when the expectation to not be shy is what is rewarded. Not everyone is going to be group minded or oriented and that is a very good thing. I like the ideas of finding the activities and situations that he likes and thrives in. You may be an outgoing person yourself so they may not be immediately obvious to you so be open and his needs and wants will hopefully present themselves to you. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

M.,

First off I just want to say that my heart aches for you and your son. My older son is "different" and even at 6 I see the way other children react to him. I can see us in your situation very easily.

My nephew went through a period (I think 3rd grade) where he didn't have any friends and the other kids "didn't like him". The school ended up putting him in a program where they basically taught him social skills. They metafter school and it was done with a small group of kids. Every since then my nephew has had no problem making friends (he is 17 now). This was in the Plano school district, but ask your school district if they have something like that. I know that there are counselors who do the same (I see them advertised), but I'd try the school first since that would be free :)

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

My husband was a "shy" kid in school and only had a handful of friends. I was a bit more outgoing and had a lot of "friends". Now that we're in our late 20s, guess who still has the best kind of friends? My husband! He's been friends with his friends since they were 4 and 6 years old! I'm still on good terms with my friends, but I'm not as close to them as my husband is with his.

Also - my husband & I both stopped participating in school because we were the smartest kid in the class and we were both made fun of for that, so we just stopped participating. Maybe your son is bright too, but doesn't want to draw attention to himself because he's been teased before. Encourage him to participate more, but don't punish him for not. And have a chat with his teacher - it's wrong of them to grade him down for that.

1 mom found this helpful

I cen't think of anything worse than being forced to go talk to someone I don't feel comfortable in doing so. Just because you seem to be very outgoing doen't mean he is made up that way. If he has a few friends, be glad, and don't push. If he is happy, that is what is important, if he seems sad and wants more social that is a different story. (IF) and only if he is interested in projects like 4-H or boy scouts, that would be a way for him to interact with people with like interests without feeling like a sore thumb so to speak.

1 mom found this helpful

I guess I am at a loss as to why you think it is a good idea to encourage your son to approach strangers, no matter how young they look. You obviously are making him uncomfortable, and if this were you, how would you have felt? He will come out of his shell to whom he wants, and when he wants, stop encouraging potentially dangerous encounters.

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Acting classes take away shyness and boost confidence. You will probably see a difference imediately. I just read the other responses and I never took martial arts but I think it could have the same effect as acting classes and is probably a lot easier to find for his age group.
I remember getting graded for class participation also, even in college-in French class participation was 25% of the grade in high school and college, also in legal studies in college-class participation was 20% of your grade-our professor used socrates method.

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I read through many of the responses, though not all, but I do not believe that anyone mentioned martial arts. I, too, was shy as a child, nothing changed for me until I joined martial arts. It is an individual sport, but comes with a lot of team-like interaction and support. If your son is interested, you may try it. I came out of my shell, my "poindexter" brother also came out of his shell, and became very successful and outgoing as an adult. He is brilliant, and was often picked on for being smart and geeky. His self confidence grew, he got his black belt, he was never picked on again, and he went on to MIT, and always took pride in his intelligence. Quite the change from before martial arts, where he never wanted anyone to know he was smart, and would not answer questions in school for fear of being picked on... I also saw it change many other introverted kids in my karate school in very positive ways. Good luck to you and your son.

1 mom found this helpful

You have a lot of great responses and I agree with most if not all of them, but I thought I would share my response as well.

I was extremely shy growing up as many of the other responders. My mom also made an effort to encourage me to make friends and I would get so frustrated and angry (quietly of course). I would find reasons NOT to like the other girls and give my mom that reason when she would start up. I agree that the McDonalds thing would have terrified me, but I know you were doing what you thought was best and you shouldn't feel bad for that.

My mom did back down on the socializing part because I did have a few very close friends on my street and at school and dance, but when it came to participation in class, she did not give up. She would get upset with me especially if I wasn't doing well in a particular subject. She didn't care if I answered the teacher's question, but she told me that if I got a bad grade on something and did not ASK the teacher for help that I would be in trouble. So she made a deal. If I raised my hand and asked the teacher 5 questions a week (1 per day) it would help me with my grades. At first, I would quietly walk up to the teacher and ask her. I guess my mom told this deal to my teacher and she was reporting back because my mom sang my praises to high heaven everytime i would ask a question. I soon became so proud of myself, that I was eager to go to class and I would think of questions to ask. After a while, I began answering the teachers questions and I became the champion of "Around the world". (A game where you go by each persons desk and you have to answer the teacher's question before the other person can)

I think my mom knew that would happen and she was willing to be patient. I think the key was to allow me to become confident and proud of myself rather than pleasing her. I was also #11 for her so she had been around the bin once or twice. =)

On another note, my mom would have marched right up to that school and had a discussion with the teacher AND the principal about those grades! Again, the key is confidence and self esteem. Grading him down won't help either of those.

Good luck with your little boy. I know you love him and want the best for him. Just give him lots of love and tell him everyday. He'll remember that ALWAYS!!

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