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Painfully shy son

(17 Posts)
Janey96 Sat 26-Sep-15 01:59:21

My son is 17. Since going to secondary school he completely changed, from funny and happy go lucky to shy and petrified. Bullying went on for 4yrs and not much was done to help, the kids must have got bored with it and moved on to their next victim. Son then went to college on leaving school but nearly cried before going in, even so, he went in and all was fine. Just started his 2nd year, its a shame the course is only 2.5 days a week cos the rest of the time hes happy to sit infront of the computer hiding away from the world. Its his comfort zone where no one can get to him. Hes a little bit behind kids his age meaning, not as clued up and has little to say. Not into clothes, music, girls, nothing. Hes as shy as they come and I still have to speak for him at the Drs and take him to the barbers and tell them what he wants done. This has got way out of hand, but cos of his age, he wont get help. Im worried that once he leaves college he will be too shy to go to work and how will he deal with interviews. He barely answers yes and no. I have my pushy sister that has no kids saying, get him off the internet, he will soon go out. No he wont, he would rather sit and do nothing than have to interact with people. I really feel for him, hes a nice kid, but they never listen to me and have no dad in their life.

His twin brother that is the complete opposite, tries to get a conversation out of him which is near on impossible and once said, it dont feel like we're twins (a bit hurtful to him i imagine) as twins are usually inseperable. I always stick up for him as he wont answer back. But his twin is as a rule good as gold, theres no fighting or anything.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

teaandporridge Sat 26-Sep-15 03:54:52

My mother used to describe me as 'painfully shy' and it still bothers me. Painfully shy to me means that I was an embarrassment to her which only made it worse. She did all the same things as you, talking for me and everything and all it did was hinder any progress. In secret, without her watching and scrutinising my every move, I was actually able to learn to communicate for myself, gradually I'd have a go at it here and there to see what happened but never if she was anywhere near me or likely to be.

I'm 30 and still have problems talking in front of her, it's horrible. With anyone else I'm happy, engaging and chatty - with my mum around, silent unless I have to speak and its monotone with no emotion or facial expression. I probably need to see a professional about it actually.

My advice is to stop being his communicator immediately. You have to let him sink or swim (he will swim but won't feel like that at first) you have to let him find his own way in life, even if he doesn't want to because I do understand how he feels, it's very scary but you are making it harder for him. I know you're only trying to do your best. I hope this helps.

Phaedra11 Sat 26-Sep-15 08:49:03

I don't think I would recommend taking your DS away from the Internet, he probably does have online friends and some kind of social life there that is important to him. What might help him is being involved with some kind of community work/voluntary work where people around him are kind, where he has to communicate and will get positive reinforcement when he does.

One of my DSs became much more socially awkward and self conscious in his teens (and had also been bullied at school). Helping older people with their computers at a community group really helped his confidence. I think voluntary work in general is a great preparation for paid work as there is usually less pressure. You do have to make sure it's the right fit though, some voluntary roles are hugely demanding!

If you do encourage him to take this kind of route, I would recommend stressing how he would help others and improve his CV rather than focussing on the personal skills. DS was mortified after hearing DH tell someone how the voluntary work was improving his social skills but had been quite happy to feel he was doing his bit for the elderly and creating something for his CV.

Regarding doctors and dentists etc, we're gradually decreasing my involvement though I still go along. So I might agree with him what'll he say when we first arrive but then agree I'll take over if things get "complicated"!

tunnockt3acake Sat 26-Sep-15 20:41:07


Part time job
Join some local groups eg Duke of Edinburghs Award, Army cadets, church, any sport, anything that gets him out & meeting new people, raise money for charity

Send him on some errands

Stop talking for him

icouldjusteatacroissant Sat 26-Sep-15 22:57:20

I have a deaf daughter, who for obvious reasons has crippling lack of confidence. I always went with her to the hairdressers to tell the stylist what she wanted. Went into the doctors surgery with her to explain the problem. etc etc

Then one day, I really couldn't make it to an appointment at the dentist. We laugh now, as she sat in the waiting room for 45 mins before she rang me to say she hadn't been called in and didn't know what to do. I rang the dentist to say that she was there as they thought she was a no show. Anyhow, she managed, and slowly got better at doing things alone. She is now very independent, but there is no doubt I wrapped her in cotton wool and hindered her development.

It's so hard as you want to protect your boy, but to help him develop into an independent person its time to drop him off at the barbers then drive away. He can do it and so can you flowers

PurpleWithRed Sat 26-Sep-15 23:18:22

You could be describing my DS, who is now 25. (And DD is very like your DSs twin)

My DS is now successfully independent, holding down a decent job at the other end of the country (in a call centre which requires him to actually talk to strange human beings), and has proved himself perfectly capable of managing his own life. When he was 17 I really couldn't see how that would ever happen.

I think the only advice I have for you is to NOT try to turn him into something he isn't but just to identify what he is good at, and help him become independent and responsible. So don't force him to join clubs and meet people or take away his computer in the hope he will have a personality transplant and start liking football. But do make him speak to the barber and go to the dentist on his own; and do praise him for his maths/gameplaying/whatever it is he does well. I found the best strategy was just to assume he was going to do it himself - e.g. make the dentist appointment then tell him when it was then drop him off there and disappear.

And give him time.

madmother1 Sat 26-Sep-15 23:25:42

This was my son 2 years ago. So scared to talk on the phone etc. Now, he's on his 2nd job, has a lovely girlfriend and is confident. Don't make an issue of it. He probably would love to be like his twin. He will find his own way, in his own time. Each child is different. Good luck x

Janey96 Sun 27-Sep-15 01:44:43

Thanks everyone for all your help.

Sometimes when things are written down, it dont sound the same way as when speaking to someone. So when i wrote he was painfully shy, thats the first time Ive ever thought of it, never mind say it. Hes never heard me say this, no one has, it was just a way to describe on here how shy he is. Hes certainly no embarrassment to me, we are who we are, and wont be sorry for who we are. Im sure your mum didnt mean you were an embarrassment, its just not wording things right. At the Drs, I look the other way, in order for him to speak, but he just points to me, so I take over. I think he lacks the ability to hold down a real conversation, which i feel deeply for him. He dont know how I feel and I never say anything to upset him or make him feel different. I think with him its partly cant be bothered to go out and also afraid to speak up. Walking thru college on enrolment day recently, some lads walked by and said alright to him, they knew him from last year, I could see the pain in his face having to say alright back. I dont know many men or teen boys that like doing phonecalls! My dad got my mum to do it for him, then when she died, I had to take over! Dad is not shy. To think you couldnt shut him up in the juniors. I asked the head for help when he was 14, saying Im worried that because of his shyness, what will happen by the time he goes to work. She said, I wouldnt worry about that, its a long way off! She just shrugged it off. Its got worse over time not better. No I wont take the internet away, he would just whine around me. Its almost like he never grew up. I hate saying these things about him. I sometimes catch him watching cartoons, he just laughs about it. His twin who happily goes to barbers on his own, always says to me, I dont know what to ask for, I guess he dont know what the style is called. So he travels a few miles to the barber where we used to live as he knows what he has done. Twin offers him to go out with him, but he just says no. No interest in going out at all. hes throwing his young life away, he should be out having fun. I guess i have wrapped them all in cotton wool, but they played out when younger, only to run home as gangs were after them, it was dredful. They all stopped going out unless I dropped them at friends, or they would have friends in. They dont take my advice, sometimes its better for someone else to talk to them, like their uncle, aunt or grandad, they listen more.

My brother was shy too, apart from with friends, he joined the army at 18, still in it part time at 50 and hes now a party animal and a Manager at his international firm. I know its early days, but I sometimes think its best to nip things in the bud while young, the older you get, the worse things may become. Hope not though.

He comes home from college on the bus with his mate who hes known since 4, and one time his twin got on. His twin goes straight up to them both and starts chatting non stop, his mate said something like, finally, someone to talk to. Seems he dont have much to say to his mate. I was the same when young, nothing much to say, just answer people. I also remember the more people that point out how shy I was, the worse I felt about it.

What is DS and DD please? New to this!

thanks again everybody you've been great.

BitOfFun Sun 27-Sep-15 01:49:35

It just means son or daughter. Have a look here.

stablemabel Fri 02-Oct-15 18:53:23

Hi Janey, I do feel for you and your son as my son is 16yr and is very quiet and has few friends. He's just started college and I worry every day is he getting on ok.

One thing that did pop into my mind about the doctors, for example is that yes you could go with him, BUT speak to the doctor beforehand about the communication thing so that the doctor will 'ignore' you and want to get the answers out of your DS. It would have to be a doctor you trust to be tactful and good at communication. Then, if your son takes small steps it will improve his confidence, if he knows he had to do it himself he will do it eventually. Try to think of another way round the other situations like the dentist and barbers, I think these are the first ways he has got to learn to speak for himself, a bit 'cruel to be kind' it';s tough but you'll be so happy you made him do it.

Perhaps think and enquire about a nice little charity shop in the future, my son did this over the summer, just a few hours a week, I think he enjoyed it, not sure how much he talked to the other staff mind you!

Good luck Janey, and, as I've already said on two other threads to mums this evening ' you are not alone'. flowers

Janey96 Sat 03-Oct-15 00:12:00

Hi and thanks for your comment.

One thing I totally forgot to mention being as Im used to it, is that he stammers a bit. He speaks really slow as well, I guess thats another reason he would rather I speak as when infront of people he probably gets nervous or shy and therefore his speech becomes more spaced out.

I wish he would get a job as hes only in college for 2 and half days. He dont even want to earn money as theres nothing he wants, not even to learn to drive so volunteering would definately be out. I have made a baby out of him, but its so hard when they wont listen. He wont have much to put on a CV when it comes to it in a years time, I dont think hes that bothered. I dont want him falling off the radar, when college ends he must do something else either work or another course, if theres any long gaps, staying in will become to easy and could get a grip of him. No man around the house to help either.

stablemabel Sat 03-Oct-15 18:08:32

Hello again, I'm not sure I understand your point about him not wanting to earn money. If that's the case would volunteering not be a decent option?
Could you possibly speak to the manager of a shop and get a feel for if it might be ok for him.

Sorry if I'm missing something. I really think he needs time and small opportunities to come out of himself. How does he get on at college btw, what feedback do you get off the tuturs?

Yes it must be very tough for you dealing with things on your own.

stablemabel Sat 03-Oct-15 18:08:51

oops tutors I meant!

Janey96 Sun 04-Oct-15 02:10:08

Hi, thanks for your reply. I think that because he wont go out apart from to go to college, that as hes not interested in earning money, then he certainly wouldnt be interested in working/volunteering without getting paid.

I call the college from time to time but I speak to some lady that goes around seeing if anyone wants any help, cant remember her title at minute! She says he only talks to that 1 lad who hes been friends with since age 4. As this isnt school I feel a bit awkward in ringing tutors up direct, hes almost 18 and probably wouldnt want me ringing up asking even tho Id love to know. On his last cert, he got mostly Passes and 2 Distinctions. I think he has to have someone show him every step of the way, rather than think for himself with some things. Even at home, I think he just cant be bothered to talk, when he wants to show me something on the internet, something I have to read, he wont read it out to me from where I am, he points to screen and I have to read it. He reads fine, it could be something he dont understand, or something else.

It is a shame, but we are all different, maybe in time when he sees not everyone is nasty or out to get him, then he will come out of his shell.

Under age 11, he was scatty, funny, did rediculous things to make you laugh, wouldnt stop talking in class and as soon as he started secondary school, it all changed.

I remember my first job at 16, my supervisor in the office said, loosen up, you can talk here, Im not the strict head master! I was quiet, still am, but was able to answer in long sentences and speak fluently and get thru the horrifying job interviews and ask them questions.

Grazia1984 Sun 04-Oct-15 08:05:52

I was really shy as a teenager. I'd cross the road if a neighbour was coming in case I had to speak to them. I did manage and was happy away at university though and now do ltos of public speaking, am a lawyer etc. Some people just need time to develop.
One of my twins says less than the other at home and at his last school the teacher said he might well be good but as he'd not spoken in class once all year he might as well have been doing the course by correspondence course! That one still doesn't speak up much even in the sixth form which is irritating as he's getting top marks and clearly has a lot he could say but worries what he might say could be wrong.

I don't think you should worry too much. People are just different and those of us with twins know that all the more. Just keep loving and supporting him. Is there a chance he could go away to a college or university or get a job abroad, on a cruise ship or something just to get some experience of independence?

Janey96 Mon 05-Oct-15 01:41:36

Hi Grazia1984, thanks for your message.

If I ask my son something, he goes to answer, then says dont worry! Its as tho he just cant be bothered to speak! You can only learn to speak well and fluently by practising. Hes had quite a few speech therapists from age 2 to about 11, the waiting lists were long, then when we got an appt, he said he didnt want to go. Much older then, so its hard and awkward for kids to want or accept help. He dislikes reading books, whereas the other ones loves it, and it really shows! His talents are wasted on being an English teacher, he could earn so much more. He said he'd rather be happy in a lesser paid job than bored in a higher paid one. Thats his choice tho. Its even more harder for me to try get him to do things, even go out with a friend, as he just wont listen and ignores it all. I think I will have to get some ex servicemen round to lift him from his chair and take him to some boot camp or get him doing something! Left to his own devices, he will just sit there and more time passes and nothing ever changes. I was shy apart from around friends, but you couldnt keep me in. If I was kept in, I would jump out the landing window onto shed, and into next doors garden and away! Hes almost 18 and it feels as tho hes thrown a lot of his childhood away by sitting there at pc. His brother is going abroad next year with friends once the last one reaches 18, i said to the quiet one, would u go with them if they are ok about it, he said no, the only reason he gave was that planes come down. He went away for a week at school in year 6, i was surprised at that but things changed come secondary school. Kids are either full of it or go the complete opposite way He seems to act like a young kid at times by asking me things that are totally up to him anyway. At college he txt me once asking me if he can come home as theres no work to do. Its not up to me, he has to either stick it out there all day or ask tutor if he can leave if theres nothing to do. If at work, u cant just leave, u have to just stay til your day is done.

My other twin in 6th form, he reads brilliantly out loud to the class and gets a massive clap afterwards, he loves speaking and tells me the bigger the audience the better. But when it comes to class discussions or anything else, he wont volunteer an answer. At nursery he used to speak for the quiet one, but I think that was because he loves to answer and knows the answers, they used to say, let him speak! But it come in handy when I couldnt understand what he was saying, his twin knew!

Sorry Ive gone on a bit here! Just want him to enjoy life, theres so much more than the internet! It wont be long til Im bringing him his pipe and slippers!

Grazia1984 Mon 05-Oct-15 06:36:29

I think your son is just different and that that is fine. I go out far more than I would prefer to for work and voluntary and other things. I would be content like your son not going out much. I just don't accept there is one way to live a life and that it has to be lots of interactions with others in order to be happy . I am therefore probably not the best person to ask.

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