sorry to post on here but need mixed advice - and lots of!(54 Posts)
I'm worried and sad for my ten year old son. He's always been painfully shy but seemed to generally cope OK in social situations and branch out with friends. We went to a party for a child his age - the whole class was invited. He didn't want to go. Not because he didn't like the child, but because he reckons he doesn't like parties. I said I would stay with him, as the invite was extended to parents and siblings.
At the party he just sat there twiddling his clothing, looking nervous and sad (like he was trying not to cry). Several children from his class tried to get him to join in but he refused. I have another child who is a few years younger. She is so outgoing - the total opposite. She was joining in with everything.
I wouldn't mind the fact that he wasn't joining in, if I thought he was happy to just sit and watch, but he wasn't, he was a bag of nerves and I felt for him.
I know he has confidence issues (he's ever so slightly overweight) and he does not run around or engage in typical child like behaviour. He is not confident enough to initiate a conversation with someone. He has a few really good friends (who were at the party), but because they were all running around and playing, he 'couldn't' join in.
He is a lovely, caring and sweet boy. He has never been any trouble for me and is well behaved at school. But he has become a very anxious, apologetic, shy boy. He is so worried how people portray him. I am careful never to make comparisons to him and his sister, and am always trying to boost him with confidence. He is due to go secondary school next year and I'm really worried how he will cope.
Just to note, I suspect he is dyslexic and suffers with dyspraxia. I think school is getting on top of him a bit too.
Does anyone have any experience here, of know where I can get some advice to help me help him? It really needs addressing now. He has no interests outside the house as he is not good at cycling, swimming or sports - which I suspect is due to dyspraxia .
Aw bless him. What about some clubs he could go to to build up his confidence and makes some friends? Big parties like that would be a nightmare for any shy child.
Thank you for your reply. He really doesn't want to do any clubs. We've tried many times and he has always given up. He is that shy.
Sorry no real help to offer. Only thing I can say to you is please never let him even have an inkling that you are frustrated with his shyness or that you feel he should just "snap" out of it.im not saying that you do that,or trying to make you feel bad,but my mum used to always do this to me and it made me a hundred times worse.otoh I am chatty and outgoing now so he might grow out of it.really sorry I can't help.best of luck.
Has he been assessed for ASD.
Well - take heart from the fact that he has good friends & other children were trying to engage with him. That's something, and it's quite important.
My DS was very similar at that age, and as trite as it sounds, he did grow out of it.
If you're certain there's nothing untoward happening that's prompting this (bullying and so on) then I would simply be accepting & supportive at this stage - and try not to worry too much (easier said than done, I know).
My son hated parties from an early age, and avoided any club-type situations. He's still much the same now hes 29 !
He is due to go secondary school next year and I'm really worried how he will cope
My DS found secondary school easier than primary. More people meant he felt less conspicuous and could "blend into the background" better. Also all the party stuff tends to stop then.
I haven't much useful to add at this stage, but one option for the future is to look at what he's interested in and try and get him some volunteering/work experience type things in that field, if possible.
I am coming at this from the other side so don't have the parental angle on it, but I worked for years for an animal charity. Officially we didn't take volunteers until they were 16 but I set up a club for younger teens that essentially enabled them to become volunteers, although obv with restrictions on what they could do.
One girl I knew well joined. I'd known her since she was 9 and the most painfully shy child around. I could only get a word or two out of her, but despite that I was quite fond of her. She was one of those kids who stuck around, turned up without fail and did loads more hours than the rest, and the more she came the more used to us she got and the less shy she became. At 16, I recommended her for some more 'advanced' volunteering, with some proper responsibility, and she never looked back. She worked alongside a couple of tough people and they really rated her. She was doing something she loved, and being valued for it, and she totally changed. At 18, she left and went to uni to do a related subject and she's just going on to a post-grad qualification. I've moved away, but I kept I touch with her loosely through FB, and she has loved uni life and is coming across as outgoing, she's busy, she's making chances for herself - she is miles away from the 9 year old I knew. I am so proud, because she's gone into the field I worked in and I feel like I helped create her first chance - but I think really her losing her shyness was because she was doing something that interested her, alongside people who were interested in it, she wanted to learn and worked hard at it, which earned her respect from those people which in turn gace her confidence.
It's a long post - sorry. But I wonder if you could see something similar for your son - helping out somewhere that values what he can bring and where he can feel that trust?
No real advice but I will say that at one time I was 'that' (female)child. To cut a long story short, my shyness and social insecurity got better as I got older. Now I don't take any crap from anybody.
You say that he has some good friends, so surely that is the most important thing? He is not lonely. He will be starting high school soon so the 'whole class parties' will probably not be an isue any more.
I think with a small group of good friends and loving, encouraging parents he will most likely grow up happier than he would if he were a 'popular' kid. Plenty of shy children do ok
Does it bother him OP, or just you? I think our dd is mildly dyspraxic (not diagnosed - not serious enough). She too is very shy. She got very anxious and her self esteem was at all time low just after secondary and I think some of that was due to puberty. We got some private counselling in place for her which helped her hugely. Didn't make her less shy but gave her some coping techniques.
She's 15 now and is still quiet and will always be shy but she has an inner strength and independence and has become more confident about who she is as she had got older and has a small group of close friends. She has never been the child who has been teased or picked on (she has quite a lot of emotional intelligence and is sensitive to others) but neither is she the centre of the "gang". She accepts herself and I think it has helped her that we have accepted her for who she is.
The fact that other children were trying to draw him in is a really good thing. I think both DH and I are similar - very socially anxious but several people seem to consider us good friends, so we must be doing OK-ish. I don't know if it helps for a child his age, but I always try and look at what other people are doing. I always panic when standing on my own at a gathering, but if I take a deep breath and look around, there are always other people on their own too, I'm not the only one. I feel awkward when I try and join a group that I don't know, but again, if I watch others, I'm not the only one doing that. How is he in smaller groups? I still hate big gatherings and parties, they're just a bit much for some people.
He did tell you he didn't want to go, he knew he wasn't going to enjoy himself.
Some people just don't like parties and big social gatherings. There's nothing wrong with that. Rather than making him go to parties he won't enjoy why don't you encourage him to see other children in a one on one situation where he will feel more comfortable?
Not everybody is a bubbly life and soul of the party. I know several adults who quite happily have small groups of close friends that they socialise with one on one or in small groups.
You say he has friends so encourage him to build strong relationships with them in an environment where he feels comfortable.
I have to say I suspect that the problem may be more yours than his. He seems to know what sort of situations he likes and doesn't like and wants to act accordingly. But it sounds like you would prefer if he was more outgoing and you don't seem willing to accept him as he is but view it as a problem which needs to be resolved. I don't necessarily think it is. There is nothing wrong with not liking parties and being shy.
I don't mean that to sound like an attack on you, I just think you could approach it differently. Not getting him to go to parties when he's quite flea he doesn 't like them would be a start.
I know this is something to exercise caution with, but how does he do at communicating online? Is he able to build relationships that way, when face-to-face awkwardness is not an issue?
The woodcraft folk is a nice friendly social group a little less military than the scouts. Do you think he'd try that?
He's an introvert, lots of people are (myself included). He said he didn't want to go to the party and didn't enjoy himself at all.
He is obviously well liked, if his friends were asking him to join in, he just doesn't feel comfortable with all of those people.
Listen to him op, let him tell you where he is happy. It will get worse if you try to force him into situations he doesn't like.
I wouldn't have made him go to to the party and if you suspect dyslexia or dyspraxia then have him assessed.
Do you know how he manages at playtime in school? That's what struck me if he finds it hard to run about and do childish things.
Some reminds me of my ds1. He has a lot of dyslexic and dyspraxic traits, and a poor memory. As he's gone through school it's knocked his self esteem more and more. In YR,, he was always in trouble for not being able to sit still, in Y1- similar and struggling to read, in Y2, struggling and in Y3, more struggling. He was the happiest, most confident little 4 year old you ever met in your life and it's sad to see him now.
It's really great your ds has friends, and I would definitely keep fostering these friendships either 1:1 or 1:2.
I wouldn't underestimate the impact even mild 'special needs' can have on a child, especially a sensitive child. I would look at Tinsley House (we are) as a way of helping ease some of the symptoms and hope it will in turn boost his self esteem.
Would you define the main issue as anxiety op?
If so, I would recommend the workbook 'starving the anxiety gremlin' which is for ages 10 up and covers social anxiety.
I would also say don't give up on clubs, there will be a niche for him somewhere. We have an incredibly inclusive seascouts group that ds1 (asd) goes to, but you'd never know unless a parent told you about it.
I know a lot of shy boys that love their Warhammer or pokemon clubs-lots of shy types happily socializing at those.
He sounds lovely and he obviously does have friends. You sound lovely too.
It's horrible to think of you worrying.
Think about the kind of things he does enjoy and let him concentrate on those. They might be activities like photography, or other observational skills rather than things that involve group activity.
Keep an eye on how he is and if he's happy don't stress over which paths he favours.
Does he have any solitary interests, such as modelling for example (aeroplanes, war hammer etc rather than cat wall, lol). Once he's comfortable in his own company then he might decide he wants to chat with someone else with the same interests, small steps.
It's so hard to watch our children struggle socially. DS2 has dyspraxia too and for him it has made him far shyer as he grew older and realised his limitations socially. But he's finding his way around it and I'm really proud of him.
Try to remember it was just one party. He does have friends and that is really important.
The other thing I've found, which is really hard but has been worthwhile for us is to push him a bit more than you or he would like, to encourage physical exercise or play. It's really hard for dyspraxics, but it doesn't get any easier if they never have a go. And it does get easier, slowly, of they do. S finally has a sport he does outside school once a week.
(Rugby is quite good for dyspraxics. The odd shaped ball is easier to catch and there are fewer skill-based rules. Tackling with arms not just feet is far easier at the basic level than footie tackling, and being a little overweight is seen by many coaches as an advantage.)
It's a fine balance between letting them be themselves/reassuring them that how and who they are is fine by you, and encouraging or pushing them to expand what they are capable of so that life long term is easier for them.
He will find his way. There's loads of opportunities socially and generally for shy people and dyspraxic people, but childhood isn't always as full of them as it could be.
Can I suggest a sporting activity?
The joy is you don't really NEED to converse with others except about the sport but it builds confidence, self esteem etc (and would help ŵith any potential weight issues). I would suggest emphatically NOT football or rugby though, something a little less competitive. I'm a fan of martial arts because they worked for my daughter in similar circumstances but there are a whole host of other things too.
Haven't got time to read the whole thread so I apologies if this is repeating anything.
Have you asked him to invite one person over for a short play date? That way he has an opportunity to practise friendship whilst being in his own space.
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