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If you were very quiet/shy as a child, how did you counteract loneliness and deal with everyday life?

(16 Posts)
Miaou Thu 14-Aug-08 22:46:43

Rather badly worded title but I hope it gets the point across.

Dd1 talking to me tonight. She is a very quiet person (we try to avoid using the word "shy", but to all intents and purposes, she is). We have spent most of the afternoon and evening working alongside each other (crafty things). Over time, she gradually becomes more relaxed and loquacious and eventually says to me, "Mummy, I think I am lonely" sad

She is 11. One more year at primary (goes back to school on Tuesday). She is not worried about going back, she says. She has a couple of friends but I think she would like more (I think perhaps she worries that she relies on them too much, though I could be reading more into that than necessary). She says there are people in her class that she would like to be friends with, but she can't talk to them, and she would be too scared to ask them if they would like to come for tea in case they turned her down.

I don't think it's life-shatteringly bad, but it's not ideal. I think she is struggling with this side of herself. I'd really like her to talk to her dad because he was like this as a child (unlike me, who like dd2, was a veritable gob-on-a-stick), but she asked me not to tell him (which in itself is hard because we share everything!)

But please, if you have any wisdom to offer, please share it so I can pass some ideas on to her.

Thank you. Poor wee soul, the tears were creeping out and she kept trying to hide them sad

Hadassah Thu 14-Aug-08 22:57:42

I was OK until age 11 - I was at an atrocious school but got on well with everyone and was quite happy. My mother then realised what kind of school I was at and had me moved three times within a year, each time to a progressively better school. By the final move I had lost all confidence and for two and a half years was painfully shy, lonely and, I think, depressed. I dealt with it very badly - I hated school, I hated going there and I felt acutely that I was complete outsider. What shook me out of that was a foreign exchange to the US for half a year. Something shifted and I came back totally different - made friends, was even reasonably popular. Sounds like your dd has friends, though. Also, I would never in a thousand years speak to my mother about this, so even if she is having difficulties she also has support at home - which is great

Miaou Thu 14-Aug-08 22:58:47


themoon66 Thu 14-Aug-08 23:02:40

I was crippled with shyness at primary school. I was bullied badly too. Then I got into grammar school and never looked back. I slipped into the roll of class clown and enjoyed the attention I got from making everyone laugh.

nancy75 Thu 14-Aug-08 23:03:02

miaou, your post has mad me really sad! i was very shy as a child and have became a very shy adult with few friends, i wish i had been able to tell my parents how lonely i felt.
ime you cant make friends for her, but what about you befriending some of the mums of her class mates (easier said than done i know) and then she would still see these kids in social situations, also does she have any interests/hobbies she could do at clubs/classes outside of school, giving her opportunity to make friends in other circles?

Miaou Thu 14-Aug-08 23:15:16

ooh sorry hadassah, x-posts then didn't check again, sorry I wasn't ignoring you!

I do think that it's something she will either grow out of, or into, or learn to deal with better as she gets older. But I really wish I could help to ease it for her now, IYSWIM.

Miaou Thu 14-Aug-08 23:22:39

x-posts again, sorry folks blush

themoon, funnily enough she has a very ready wit and people do gravitate to her because she can be very funny smile. However she can't bear to have any attention directed at her at all!

She is very mature for her age though so I think she finds it hard to find people who are "like" her amongst her peers - and obviously school keeps them very segregated by its very nature.

nancy smile - I am so pleased she felt able to talk to me (though sad that I can't do much to help!). My circle of friends are all though my dses (who are three and one), so mostly have younger children only. I do know one or two parents but it's a bit difficult, unless I hit lucky by joining the PTA or similar, but I just haven't got the time for that.

We did talk about groups and clubs - she does scouts, which she loves, and says she doesn't feel lonely there - the "doing" makes it easier to be with people. She recently spent a week on camp away from home and absolutely loved it. She also attends a swimming club but that's not really conducive to socialising (not at the level she is at anyway). She really wants to join the army cadets but she can't until she is 13. I said to her to think if there are other groups/activities she would like to do where she can "do" alongside other people, which might help her a bit.

HonoriaGlossop Thu 14-Aug-08 23:24:33

I just wanted to say that if she asks you not to tell her dad I think personally I would very gently explain that mum and dad are a team and that you tell dad everything. She may not want or feel ready to talk to him about it but IMO it is a way of keeping their relationship close and real - if he at least knows things, and she just knows that he knows. I was like this with my dad - we NEVER talked about proper, emotional stuff but I got a nice secure feeling from knowing that dad knew what was going on with me. It's as it should be I think.

obv different ways for different families but I just thought I'd stick my oar in. It is I think possibly another way of keeping shy children less isolated; at least if both mum and dad are aware then she's not isolating herself and knows in her heart of hearts that her support mechanism is not JUST mum.

solo Thu 14-Aug-08 23:26:54

I was a very shy child too. I was also bullied, but worse at secondary - though my shyness did ease a little there for whatever reason. I joined the choir and all lunch times were taken up with singing instead of dodging the bullies or wandering aimlessly around the playgrounds.

I worry about my Ds who also goes back to year 6 in September. He's far from shy, but he doesn't have many friends. I just hope that things get better at secondary. I do know he gets lonely and that is something I don't seem able to change for him.My lack of funds seem to stop me from being able to send him to extra activities which would give him common ground with other boys(or girls)his age which would possibly enable new friendships. It's a tough thing to watch as a mother as we just want our lo's to be happy.
I hope you can help your Dd.

Miaou Thu 14-Aug-08 23:34:36

That's just it solo - am used to being able to "fix" things and just can't fix this!

Honoria - I think you are right. I will talk to her and explain that I think. Dh is actually very chatty (although very shy as a child he has overcome it very well; so well that tbh I don't think dd1 believes he was shy!) and I think sometimes she feels a bit overwhelmed by it. But I could perhaps say, he needs to know, but I'll ask him not to talk to you about it unless you want him to. It took me a bit by surprise really; she is usually ok about me sharing stuff with daddy.

HonoriaGlossop Thu 14-Aug-08 23:53:56

Your DH sounds a very positive example for her! I think actually she sounds as if she will cope with any difficulties - because she has your support. Keep talking to her and keep the channels of communication open; you've obviously found a good way of giving her the space to open up by doing the craft stuff together...

just knowing that you and her dad care and are aware will help. And knowing she is accepted and valued and treasured exactly how she is will help hugely too; she doesn't need to be ANY different, she is fantastic how she is.

All this (which is clearly already happening) will build her confidence eventually.

Maybe try telling her that she will almost certainly get more and more friends as she gets older - because the other girls will 'catch her up' in terms of maturity as time goes on.

solo Thu 14-Aug-08 23:56:00

Perhaps you aren't meant to fix this for her Miaou, just support her whilst she navigates this part of her lifes map? It's not nice watching them go through crappy stuff and more so because she's spoken to you about it. I distinctly remember my Ds telling me he was lonely. It kind of shatters you inside because you think and feel you are failing them. You/we aren't I don't think, but it's hard not to feel that way.
Keep us informed as to what you decide to do. I for one am interested - for obvious reasons. (kind )

nannynz Fri 15-Aug-08 11:55:21

She sounds exactly like me at her age. I was extremely quiet and shy, in fact every school report from my first until myu last at 18 has at least one "quiet" on it. I did not have heaps of friends but I did have a few. I also was not the type of person to need a lot of social contact and was more than happy to read/draw etc. It was only into my 3rd year at college that I really started to feel like I didn't need to be pressured into huge social groups and because of this I started to relax in groups and now do a lot better. Now people's first opinion of me is that I'm quiet but I also can hold the attention of the group with my "dry" sense of humor and it's not like I'm shy and stay in one place, I travel the world and do lots of things that my parents and their friends can't believe after my quietness in my early years.

If your daughter says she's lonely I would support in getting her play dates/or joining groups but I would also back her up that she doesn't need to be in a huge group of friends. I'd rather have a few good friends then heaps of friends i don't really know.

alvinandthechipmunks Fri 15-Aug-08 12:51:06

She needs unconditional love (within reason) from you and her dad and others to show that even if some people are bullies and can't be trusted, others can. I'm sure you give this anyway but unconditional love made all the difference to me as a bullied child.
And my cat. I could talk to that cat about anything.

Will reply more fully when I have time later.

Jux Fri 15-Aug-08 13:11:12

Sometimes it's hard for a child to fit in at primary, but often once at secondary they find people 'like them', because there are a lot more kids there, so problems like this can disappear naturally. However, that doesn't help now (we have similar problem with dd, who is not particularly shy, but a bit of an oddball, and doesn't fit in at allsad).

I know it's breaking a confidence, but her dad, having been like this himself, is the best person to talk to about it. You could swear him to secrecy and then maybe he could be really really subtle and perhaps start talking to her about his own school days and how he coped? You know the sort of thing, "when I was at school, I was quite shy and found it quite hard, do you ever feel like that? This is what I did."

I too was like this, and like others on this thread, was bullied badly as well. I took comfort from books and my cat. And told myself that it made me stronger - which it did, and also much more resourceful. I was astonished when I went to FE college and found that people there actually liked me!

Miaou Fri 15-Aug-08 13:29:21

Thank you all for your lovely kind messages. Solo you are right, I can't (and shouldn't) try to fix this for her, it's just hard seeing her sad sad. I think I am going to talk to her dad, but I will tell her I am going to first, because I would hate her to not talk to me in the future because she doesn't trust me to keep her confidence. I will also say to her that he doesn't need to speak to her about it, but just that he knows. I will have an opportunity this afternoon whilst dd2 is out on a playdate.

A big part of the problem is that it can take her hours to work up to saying something (like yesterday), then that's it - the rest of the information I elicited via an emotional version of twenty questions grin - fortunately she is not very suggestible but obviously I do wonder if I'm on the right tack. I don't think she is bullied, but I ought to check rather than assume.

We have always encouraged her to be "herself", not try to fit in for the sake of it etc. We have also encouraged her to do things that interest her, as far as money allows.

It's difficult to find the time to speak to her about these things - she is the eldest of four - and obviously ten minutes here and there doesn't do it. She keeps a diary and we encourage her to write things down, even write letters to us if it helps.

nannynz, what you say is so encouraging! We have always said (and truly believe) that she will achieve whatever she sets her mind to; she is intelligent, mature, independent and more than capable of many different careers (like all kids she vacillates between various things but at the moment she wants to be a barrister).

Thank you all, you have all made good points, and it's nice to talk about this with people who understand smile. Will come back to this later but it's hard to concentrate just now as it's bedlam in here wink

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