My Shy 8 Year Old Daughter ...pls Help Me Figure

Updated on September 11, 2014
A.D. asks from Stockton, CA
22 answers

I am worried about my 8 year old daughter. She's in 3 rd grade and has twin brother..she's the most matured at home and kind of the leader at times but at school she sticks with 2-3 of her friends...she has 2 best friends and prefers to be with them most of the time.
Her brother has high functioning autism so I got her tested since she s not social at school but she didn't meet the criteria.

I unfortunately do not have a lot of friends of my own. ( most of my good friends out of town )Am I a bad role model/example for her? I know peer groups are important at this age and just do not know what to do to encourage her . She's in art class and swimming.

She's in girls scout for past 2 years and one of her best friends there too...she hardly talks at the meet to others except her friend . I told her repeatedly that she needs to talk and take part but she says she enjoys but doesn't want to open up ..I stopped asking her & had thoughts of quitting girls scout since it's not helping. I had discussed quitting and she doesn't want to since her best friend is there.
I was wondering should I put her in activities where her friend won't be there ? They have been separated and in different class at school.
I m so confused
Please offer some assistance. Advice some other activities which might help her.

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answers from New York on

Why are you trying to change who she is? She is quiet. Why is that a problem? Not everyone is a social butterfly.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Thank you for asking this question Aa D.

I have this concern with my 10 year old son.

I am an introvert, and my husband is an introvert.

My son is very introverted, laid back, very easy to please, a 'pleaser' but very much a loaner.

Last year I started getting anxious thinking he wasn't developing socially like the other kids. I also worried that this could be my doing (being an introvert/loaner).

My anxiety was also exacerbated because he is severely disfluent, and I know the tween mean years are just around the corner. I wanted him to develop a peer group for protection.

It was an eye opening experience when we were kind of discussing this and he grabbed my hand, looked me in the eye and said, "Mom, I'm happy. You don't have to worry. " it made me think about how maybe this was my agenda, and that perhaps I was sending the message that there was something wrong with him (as others here have mentioned). That is not at all how I wanted him to feel. So I let it go .

This is who he is and as long as he knows he can come to me if something happens, I have let it go.

He taught me quite a lesson that day!

So yes, as the others have said, please accept her for who she is and just let her know the door is always open to talk to you if she needs to.

I would leave her in GS.

Reading everyone's responses is very comforting :-).

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like she has three good friends. What's wrong with that? Why does she need more? Stop bugging her about this. Of course you don't pull her out of Girl Scouts.

Also, to answer your other question, it has nothing to do with your example. She was born the type of person who prefers a few close friends, vs. being a social butterfly. Social butterflies are born that way.

Stop worrying and stop trying to change your kid. And to echo Mira's advice -- start celebrating the wonderful person she is, and stop telling her in so many words that there's something wrong with her -- that's destructive.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

If you remove her from activities that she enjoys, and try to force her to make new friends by removing the few friends that she does have, you will send her bad messages. First she will think something is wrong with her because she is not as social as you desire her to be. This won't help her make new friends, it will just make her self conscious about herself and eventually she will believe she is not worth befriending. Second she will think that you think her friends are not good enough for you and she will eventually stop trying to make friends for fear that you will continue to remove her from them. Just let her be who she is, instead of trying to force her to be who you think she should be.

And for what it's worth, Girl Scouts is about a whole lot more than making friends. I was a leader for many years and I saw shy introverted girls blossom with the confidence they got from what they learned in Scouts, but it doesn't happen overnight.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

If she is happy observing, why are you forcing the issue. You can't role model extroversion. She either is or she isn't. My daughter is extremely shy. I only get involved if I think it is in some way harming her. Why would you make her quit just because she's not talking the way you want her to? She has an opportunity to see her friend, she is watching how the girls interact and learning from it, and she doesn't want to. It doesn't sound like she's uncomfortable, but you sound uncomfortable with her. If she's not unhappy, why are you?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

she's been in girl scouts for two years and enjoys it, but you're considering pulling her because it's not 'helping'?
what would 'help'? your daughter somehow magically transforming her natural character and becoming a radiant extrovert instead of what she actually is, which appears to be a perfectly healthy introvert?
she has 2 or 3 good friends at the age of 8. she's involved in several activities and is 'kind of the leader' at home (although i'm not sure what that could really mean.)
i think rather than busting your balls to alter your child, it would be best if you learned to accept her as she is and love what makes her unique. if she didn't speak to anyone, had no friends, and refused to participate in activities maybe i'd see a problem.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I was a very shy kid. It wasn't anything that needed to be "fixed." The world would be a boring (and frankly, too talkative) place if everyone was extroverted. Shyness isn't a bad thing. It's part of someone's personality. Embrace her how she is. Don't ask her to speak up more. She will find her own voice over time.

I see someone already recommended the bestseller "Quiet." I highly recommend reading that so you understand her better and all of the wonderful qualities shy people bring to the world.

I have always had a small group of friends. My friends from elementary school are people I've stayed in touch with my entire life, into my 40s now. I wonder how many people can say that who had a large group of so-so friends. I form quality friendships with people and no doubt that's what she's doing, too.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't classify myself as shy anymore. I lean that way, but once I hit college, I learned to be more outgoing, on my own terms. Not because someone told me that's what was expected or encouraged, but because I felt ready and needed to in various circumstances. I even went into PR as a career and was a spokesperson.

Love her as she is.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I think you need to let her be herself. Not everyone is a social butterfly.

She has a friend (it's more important to have one REAL friend who really loves you than 10 'kinda' friends). She's in art and swim class. She's a Girl Scout. What more could you ask? She sounds like a perfectly lovely little girl. Consider that you are sending her a message here that she's not good enough and loveable enough as she is. Ouch. Quit prodding her to be what you want and allow her to be who she is. Please.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with everyone else!

If you want your daughter to be more confident, the way to do that is to celebrate the wonderful person she is. If you tell her she's wonderful, and it's fine to be quiet and thoughtful and observant, then eventually she may feel comfortable making a few additional friends. If she gets a message, even if it's not overt, that there's something wrong with the way she is in the world, then she'll withdraw further and further into her shell.

Eventually, your daughter probably will make a few additional friends. Friendship circles shift as kids move into junior high, high school, etc. But there is no reason, in this world, to force a crisis by taking away the friend time she has. She's developing her social skills by being a good friend to the friends she has. The longer she does that, the stronger her social skills will be.

You state yourself that most of your close friends are out of town. Is that a problem or a crisis or a disaster? Or is that just who you are? Chances are, you and your daughter aren't all that different. And there's nothing, not one single thing in the world, wrong with either of you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

She sounds perfectly normal. She has friends and goes to activities. Some kids, some PEOPLE, are just shy, just like some people are outgoing, or aggressive or silly. Please stop worrying about this and let her be who she is. By trying to "help" her you may just be making her feel like there is something wrong with her. Just let her be.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

There is a wonderful book called Quiet, all about being an introvert in an extroverted world. It is a great read and might offer you some additional insight into understanding her. There is also a great book called Best Friends, Worst Enemies, all about childhood friendships. I also have a shy 8 year old how is more of and introvert but so filled with goodness and kindness. I need to not project my idea that to be happy she needs to be part of the bigger group and act like the other kids. Not all people need lots of friends to be happy and content. Hugs to you. I have the same challenges and really am learning to focus on her strengths and allows her to participate in activities she enjoys that bring out the best in her. For example she tried softball and loved sport but was too social. She now plays tennis and just LOVES it because it is more individual at this stage.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

There is nothing wrong with having 2-3 friends and there is nothing wrong with being shy. It's just her personality. I am a shy person and I am perfectly happy with the few friends I have. Not everyone needs to be friends with everyone. If she likes girl scouts, then there is no reason at all to pull her out of it. Forcing her to talk to everyone and be friends with everyone will not help her. That will make it worse.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi! I know you are alarmed, but she sounds pretty fine. She might just be INTROVERTED. Introverts generally only like their favorite friends (a very small group) and that's about it. That's Oh-kay. And you know, not everyone is going to be your favorite-best-friend-ever. People are generally annoying. Don't force it. Do you want to be friends with everyone around you? Me neither. A handful, yet, not the world.

Don't pull her out of an activity she can enjoy with her best-favorite-friends. Why would you do that? To force her to make new friends? That will happen. Don't force it.

No, I don't think you are a bad role model for her. Even if you a social butterfly, I bet she'd be the same. Except she'd have more kids around her (she'd be forced to socialize more) because you had more friends around her. Don't beat yourself up.

No, peer groups are not that important. Some yes, friendships are good, yes, but if a child is ONLY interested in peers 24/7, that's really not healthy. Especially as they hit middle-teen years. Book "Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers" argues that loving adults should be the most important people in a child's life.

by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

There is a great book you should pick up and there are 2 chapters that focus on the characteristics and needs of EXTROVERTS & INTROVERTS. Extroverts NEED people around them lil you and I need air and water. If they don't have "people" time, they get cranky and climb up the walls. My 14-yr-old son is like that. I wish sometimes I had an introvert who just wanted to come home from school and lock himself in his room to decompress from being stressed/surrounded by people all day. Those 2 chapters were so eye-opening to me.

My 5th grade daughter was a shy, shy baby. Only this past summer, she FINALLY consented to taking a class by herself (she was always waiting for a friend to be available to take it). That was a big step for her. I was frustrated because she was missing out on opportunities/new experiences. She refused to attend otherwise. (She did attend an art class a year ago alone and had a nice time meeting other friendly girls.) That's OK... I didn't want to force it too hard. The friendships she has now (tight friends 2-4) really help her socially, navigate relationships, emotions. It gives her practice. It's a real gift to be someone who "gets" you and has a history with you and loves you. Let her have that comfort now. Let her cement those friendships she values. My daughter has best friends from babyhood. I love that her 2 friends can read each other and can step in/anticipate problems and solve them. They do this because they've been around each other so long. That takes practice.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Rule of thumb. Ask yourself is this just bothering you or is it bothering your child--at all?
Let her be. She's fine.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Why is it so important for her to have more people in her life than her good friends?

3rd grade is usually the most drama filled year of their life!

I think she's doing fine. There will be times where her friends aren't there and she'll still be fine.

I played with a lot of friends in elementary school but can only remember a few names. I grew up and made new friends as time went by.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Leave her alone. She has a couple of friendships that she enjoys. I don't see the problem. Not everyone is a social butterfly, but it doesn't mean there's a problem. She is who she is; don't try to change her. You will only make her FEEL like she has a problem and you will cause all sorts of self-doubt. Leave her alone!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't see anything in your post to indicate a problem that needs to be fixed? Is your daughter happy? If so, I am not sure what you are worried about.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

What's the problem? My 9year old has always been a loner and finally has one friend. Just one is all you need. He's having his first ever sleep over with his friend this weekend.
Don't put pressure on your child. This is who she is.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Why do you need her to have more friends? Complete the sentence: "She should have friends because..."

Now, ask yourself,
Is that true?
Can I absolutely know that that is true?
What is the reality of the situation?
When I believe this I...?
How would I behave/feel if I didn't believe this?

What are three ways being an introvert is good for your daughter?

Where does your belief that she "should" have more friends come from?
How could it be bad for her to have more friends?

Why is it important for you that she have more friends?
Is this about her discomfort or yours?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Accept who she is and let her participate in activities she enjoys, regardless of how many other kids she talks to when she's there. If she's happy, that's all that is important, right?

If you like to read, get the the book "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking" There is a good chapter on introverted kids, and how to help them feel good about who they are in a world that seems to favor extroverts.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

My 8 year old daughter is shy. She had one best friend since pre-k. To be honest I'm not sure if she talks to her a whole lot or not. This year her friend was put into another 3rd grade class. She came home and said her friend was playing with another girl. I told her nothing stays the same. I told her you can still can be friends with her and/or make new ones. A few days later she made a new friend and still plays with her old one. I had a few teachers over the years asked about her being quiet. I told her that's just her personality. I was quiet and so was her father during school. Her 7 year old sister is the opposite. She talks!!! She goes up to any kid and starts talking. I got a little note on her behavior report saying she was talking during a lesson. My 7 was quiet also but has been talking alot more passed the last year or so. Every child is different in their own way!! She may out grow it. I did! ;) leave her alone and love her for who she is!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

1. Social skills group if she truly has social anxiety

2. There's nothing wrong with being an introvert. Don't try to make her be something she isn't

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