Ideas or resources to boost a young teenage boy's social confidence?

(25 Posts)

No1 son is almost 13. He has just finished his first year at High School. He was bullied at primary school so has gone to a different High school from his class and has settled in brilliantly. He is a bright boy but very quiet, we've just had his end of year report and it is absoulutely fantastic.

We are so pleased and have told him so.

The overriding theme of the comments is that his practical/written work, team work, attitude etc are all really good however.....he is quiet in class and only contributes when asked to (when he does, again they say it is all positive stuff). This is basically a repeat of all his primary reports. I know that in primary he didn't like to say anything or ask anything in case he was wrong or got laughed at (bullying issue) but i'd really love it if he felt able to be himself more. He is clever, funny and generally a nice lad.

He has always lacked social confidence (he does not lack confidence about his abilities!) though so I can't really pin it all on the bullying and I think looking back, I blame myself and my OH for being overly strict. During the bullying he was displaying very anxious behaviour at school and it was felt that he may be borderline aspergers though in the end we decided not to get him tested as he didn't need any additional support by that time. He did however display impulsive behaviour from time to time and I guess we were a bit tough on him as we didn't want him to hurt anyone - we wanted the nice compliant well behaved child that we now have but maybe we sucked his spirit out too sad

Anyway, after that long tale, what I am looking for are ideas to help him feel more able to open up a bit - I know that he will never be the life and soul of the party - my OH and I are not exactly social butterflies either.

Can anyone point me in the direction of a good book/website or just general ideas?

Morgause Fri 10-May-13 19:08:56

Is there a youth theatre group near you? They are wonderful places for young people to develop social skills, it isn't just about acting.

If the thought of treading the boards scares him he would be welcome as a backstage man, I'm sure.

k2togm1 Fri 10-May-13 19:12:14

Music lessons! Guitar or drums or the oboe, whatever he wants. Joining the school band/orchestra will bring a social scene to his school days, will give him skills to find friends wherever and whatever he does in the future and will boost his self confidence.

Morgause - not a bad idea, I think he would rather die though. I'll suggest it and say what he says - there is a big company that does classes but that would be a step too far, but I think the little arts centre does something a bit less scary - he has gone there for Art and Pottery before so it is a familiar environment.

He is in the scouts which does give him the opportunity to do stuff like that. Him and my younger son were at a camp recently and had to go and pick up No2 son a day early (that's another story!) and they had the camp fire going and some of the other boys were leading some comic singing but No1 son was away at the other end of the camp whittling sticks with a couple of other lads - I asked if he wouldn't rather be over by the fire enjoying the entertainment/joining in but he just said "I'm not good at singing" sad

Things that have built my DS1's social confidence: a youth theatre company, playing for a local rugby club and belonging to Cubs and then Scouts. All of these have required him to go beyond his comfort zone but he has ended up more confident as a result.

iseenodust Fri 10-May-13 19:22:30

Does he like a particular sport/hobby/interest?

Join in local wildlife trust or rspb activities - it's easy socialising with a purpose and the young ones tend to put some distance between themselves & the adults.
Get him watching The Big Bang Theory (it's geeks with insight & humour)

Well, he has a guitar as he was interested in learning for a while and his report for music said he was making good progress on the keyboard but I think it all seems a bit too much effort and takes his time away from playing bloody minecraft! Not living in the same town as his school friends probably doesn't help, but he was on skype with them all the time for a while but seems to have stopped, he has kept in touch with a few people from primary who he will socialise with if prompted by us. i.e. why don't you ask a friend if they'd like to go swimming/to the park etc. If we didn't prompt him I don't think he would bother.

Sorry OP; cross-posted with you about the Scouts. We also play board games that require the children to think on their feet, improvise and say something even when they can't think of anything to say: Pass the Bomb, Charades, Articulate etc.

boardingschoolbaby Fri 10-May-13 19:30:53

I def agree that something acting related- like stagecoach or lamda could be really good for him; I have see it work wonders for self confidence in teenagers; and is also very useful for their presentations in gcse English when they get there. You could try either weekly classes or a more concentrated holiday class which usually results in a performance.

He is not really interested in Sport as such however he does Scouts and Judo and still does his swimming lessons - he is going to do life savers soon but apart from Scouts the others are individual things. However his reprt for PE said his strenghth was in team games which he has always told me he hates/isn't any good at. Maybe we picked the right High school as he had some talented sports people in primary school which probably put him off.

Strangely he never fails to find a friend but he is still quiet. Maybe I just need to accept that that is him?

iseenodust - I bought him the box set of BBT for Christmas....it's still in the cellophane - maybe I need to make him watch?!

His favourite thing to do is computer stuff and anything to do with architecture/drawing/building. Quote from his report "He has shown some really exceptional skills in graphic communications..."

Thanks, yes, board games - good idea - we play a bit at Christmas and that's about it - Charades might be good - is there anything where he would need to have an actual opinion on something? That seems to be particularly hard for him - he tends to say I don't know when asked for his view. He prefers to argue facts rather than have a view that others might not have.

I really wonder if I could talk him into something drama related?

The more you describe him, the more he sounds like many boys of his age. There are loads of threads on here from parents worried that their adolescent sons are spending too much time on Minecraft / Skype etc rather than socialising with their friends. I'm starting to think this might be a normal stage of development.

If I had to spend eight hours a day in a large secondary school surrounded by over a thousand teenagers, I would want a bit of solitude when I got home.

DS1 has been at secondary school for nearly two years. I can count on one hand the number of times he and his friends have actually taken the initiative and organised themselves to meet up outside school hours. And I would consider him to be sociable, confident and well-liked by his peers.

You've got a point there ThreeBee, I think becasue of the bullying I am probably oversensitive but I would like him to particpate more at school - he must feel stressed about it although he doesn't show it and it must be a nightmare when he has to stand and present things in front of the class - maybe I am just projecting my own feelings here as I wouldn't do things like that either!

I've just read- 'quiet- the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking' and it has changed the way I think about things. I have relaxed a bit about my shy son. I do recommend it. We do live in a world in which the extroverts seem to rule- but it's not necassarily the case.

Oh that sounds interesting, it might be worth a read.

booksteensandmagazines Fri 10-May-13 20:21:50

I was very quiet at school - I preferred to listen and not out myself forward or stick out. It was just the way I was and I remember teachers telling my parents I was bright but too quiet. When I got to my 20's something just changed and now I'll chat away and am confident doing presentations etc. So I wouldn't worry that he's quiet - let him find his own way. As long as he is happy.

thanks booksteens - I think he is happy, but he doesn't give much away!

Glad to hear that you came out your shell. I'm probably much the same but I regret being so quiet and feel I missed out on a lot so I'd prefer him to be less quiet - I am probably putting my own experiences on to him.

mindfulmum Sat 11-May-13 07:25:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thanks mindfulmum - that's good to hear that your daughter is doing so well. I don't even know if his primary school have passed any of the information on to the high school, I didn't want to draw attention to him if he was doing okay if you know what I mean?

We chose his high school particularly because it has a higher than average "geek" quoitant grin It is must more academic and less fashion/media concious than the one he should have gone to. He wouldn't have coped well there I think - he gets anxious about classroom disruption.

Kleinzeit Sat 11-May-13 12:01:49

My DS has diagnosed Asperger’s and one bit of advice we were given, was to let him join in with social activities at whatever level he’s comfortable with. So if your son prefers to sit on one side while the Scouts are singing, that’s fine. He’s at the Scout camp and enjoying it (or coping with it) in his own way. Trying to direct my DS to be more sociable would have made him feel more of a failure if you see what I mean. Your DS seems to have quite a good set of social activities even if he's quiet.

One benefit of having the Asperger’s diagnosis was that DS was offered a place in a social skills group. I know the kids in the group have talked about bullying, and most of them had experienced it.

DS went through a very non-sociable phase when he started secondary school. He is only starting to come out of it now (he is nearly 15) and has joined a Duke of Edinburgh group and wants to go with friends to the cinema for his birthday, for the first time since primary school. So there’s hope! smile

Thank you kleinzeit, i'm glad your son is doing well and that having a diagnosis has helped him.

When we saw the psychology service they said that they would be happy to send my son for the full tests but they said that in their view he would end up borderline as he has as many non traits as he does traits - he has a brilliant sense of humour and can pick up a lot of social nuances etc. At school he was very rigid about routines but at home he was messy and carefree.

He loves camp and is always happy to go along to anything e.g. holiday clubs etc. but as you say, on his own terms - he never looks like he is particularly enjoying some things but is still happy to go back confused and strangely unlike his more sociable younger brother, he always seems to make a friend.

I think we will just keep encouraging him to speak up at school.

PigletJohn Sat 11-May-13 16:52:21

I think the key here, is to find something, outside school, with different people, and something that he will be able to become reasonably good at. Doesn't matter what it is. Some things like footy are not actually very good because there is not so much personal interaction on the field, and training might involve being shouted at by someone. Groups like the scouts can still be useful.

Incidentally, a lot of performers are very quiet, shy people off stage when they are not being someone else.

chocoluvva Sun 12-May-13 22:31:49

Photography club?

Duke of Edinburgh when he's 14?

Thanks piglet - having thought more about it, i think the main issue is with school and maybe needing to realise that actually most people are nice rather than nasty. His bullying experiences at primary have almost certainly put him off speaking up in class. He definitely seems happy enough so i think some careful prodding from time to time. Luckily his teachers seem to have sussed out that he is bright and has things to offer so hopefully they will draw him out of his shell.

Choco - he will definitely want to do DoE - wee bit to wait for that tho. Photography would be good - I'll look into that but I'm not aware of anything around. I have an old SLR camera and lenses in the loft - it's not great, but I wonder if he might like messing about with it - a change from the computer etc

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