21 answers

My Teenage Daughter Is Extremely Shy....

My teenage daughter recently revealed her absolute terror of not having any friend. She is extremely shy and it is difficult for her to approach other teenagers in order to make friends. She struggles with her shyness in the classroom and feels that her embarassment (she blushes) is a sign of stupidity and people think she is wierd (her words). My daughter is very bright, intuitive, and very warm and engaging once you get to know her but I am afraid she has taken her shyness to a whole new level because of how hard she tries not to be nervous or shy....making sense? She is athletic, tall, and beautiful...not just my biased opinion...she is beautiful!!! but does not see herself as such. I am asking for any feedback.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you so much for the feedback. My daughter is turning 16 next month. She does play High School sports and she does volunteer work. I believe, as I have read, and have talked to ex-shy people, that the best feedback is getting her to think less about herself through volunteer and part-time work. I also remind her of the very best friend she has which most people don't have until they are much older. I am fortunate she does talk to me and she is not acting out in 'other ways'. I just want to make sure she keeps opening up to me and her best friend. I think her shyness does make her stand out but in a way that she does not like so she perceives herself as being 'wierd'. I love the comment about acting as if you are having a good time....that is helpful. I rarely use this sight and I am very grateful for the wonderful feedback.

Featured Answers

The book, "The Unwritten Rules of Friendship" by Natalie Madorsky has a chapter on shy kids with advice for parents on how to help them. There are exercises in the book that might be useful.

1 mom found this helpful

I was a super shy teenager and I joined the track team and made friends that way. can you get her in a sport on a team, it really makes a difference

More Answers

Hi M.,

I am currently reading a book called "Winning with People" by John Maxwell. In the book there is a story about a young woman who was too shy to approach new people. She was in a class (I can't remember what the class was), where after talking to her professor and telling him how lonely she was with no friends, he had the whole class do a "compliment assignment" for 30 days. The basis of the assignment was each student had to give 3 genuine compliments to someone every day. The results were really amazing, not just for the person who received the complement, but for the person who was giving them. Maybe 3 a day might be a lot for your daughter to start with, but if she started with 1 a day and then built up to 3 she would feel more comfortable. It's hard to be mean to someone who is being nice to you. The assignment really brought out the best in all the students, and most importantly helped the young lady gain confidence and see the awesome person she was. Hopefully that helps. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
Your daughter sounds exactly like me at that age and I now realize what my problem was, anxiety. At the age of 30 I was put on an anti-depressant (Paxil) and it changed my life. I realized that I wasn't crazy or wierd, I was just always worried about something or other. I just wish that I had had this knowledge while I was struggling through high school and without the assistance of medication. If I had had meds, I probably would have actually LIKED high school. Have her see a phychiatrist and see if she can try a SRI. I can tell you from my experience that for the first time in 30 years, I actually feel normal.


1 mom found this helpful

The book, "The Unwritten Rules of Friendship" by Natalie Madorsky has a chapter on shy kids with advice for parents on how to help them. There are exercises in the book that might be useful.

1 mom found this helpful

I was shy or "quiet" when I was a kid (and still am). I always found that it was much easier to make friends in one-on-one situations. Group events, clubs, etc. never worked for me. And we are always our harshest critic: I look back at pictures of myself in High School and think I look pretty, but at the time I never did. There's always someone prettier and teens tend to see things as black and white - you're the prettiest or you're unattractive. I think it's also a self-esteem issue. I think it's good to be introspective and thoughtful but society does seem to reward the bubble personality or the individual who appears self-assured. Good-luck.

She sounds like 70% of my students in junior high. It's hard for them at that age to place their fears in the realm of "normal". Heaven forbid anyone be different. Have her volunteer. Work with younger kids, elderly, animals, recycling, whatever interest her and get to know people from that experience. As she thinks less about herself, her true personality will come out with her peers and she will be doing something good for others.

I asked my highschooler what advice she would give. We also live in the Santa Cruz area so I thought she could give a local perspective. Here is her advice:

If she's athletic, join a sports team. Instant friends! Even if she thinks the other girls are already in groups, it's not true. Invite a team mate, or two, over for a video night, or go to the mall to try on crazy outfits (she pointed out that there is a Dairy Queen and a Starbucks at our mall!), or something else fun.

Work/volunteer at a day camp. (my daughter volunteers at our church camp) You meet other kids your age, but in a way that you are focused on the little kids. No pressure.

Get to know your science partner if you have one, or other people you have to work in groups with at school. If you see them outside of class just say hi. See what they are doing at lunch and eat/go get lunch with them.

The last thing she said was that most people feel weird at some point and everyone wants to make friends. There are plenty of people that would like to be her friend.

I hope this teen perspective helps!

I have read that 'shy' is a negative word and should not be used to label someone just because that person has a different outlook than the rest of the world. Everyone has some unique personality and has a right to be who one is. When we label someone as shy, we imply that it is bad and make that person more conscious about his or her behavior though our intent may not be so. It is important to make such person comfortable with who he or she is. Whe we accept ourselves as we are,we accept other too as they are.

Some people are more cautious, perceptive, and sensative than others and take their time to warm up. They want to be able to trust others to share their inner true-self. They are authentic, respectful, compassionate, insightful, and nurturing just as your daughter is. Please accept her as she is and tell her that she is perfect just the way she is. Please do not label her as shy in front of others or let others label her so. Just highlight her wonderful qualities and offer her genuine praise. She will open up when she is ready and if she wants to. You can be your daughter's best friend and may find some books for her and may be there are other kids in neighborhood or school that me just be like her and get them together.

I myself have been labelled as shy and picky (selective as I say) as I am not comfortable in social situations or big crowds. I prefer one to one interaction and like to have genuine conversation. The few friends I have are my true friends whom I can count on anytime. My son was labelled as shy too even at young age of 2. The well meaning people suggested putting him in day care and do more playgroups with kids of his age. I respected my son's feelings and did not push him out there. People are so quick to label before letting the other person a chance to know you. So when anyone told me, he is so shy, I would say - actually he is very friendly and engaging. He just needs time to warm up with you. Hope this helps.


I am quite shy now and was a very shy teenager. I feel like I spent years as an adult 'learning' how to behave in social situations. So looking back, I'd say it would have been very helpful to me to have someone giving me advice about how to gradually get through these situations, e.g. learning to make small talk etc. So that is my suggestion :)


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