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How can I get my daughter to be more confident with her peers?

(3 Posts)
Leeny101 Tue 19-Jan-16 11:43:47

My daughter is 12 and has started high school this year. She is so shy around people of her own age, that I think she doesn't talk to anyone in her class all day. She has 2 friends at her school - both of them are in different forms. She seems comfortable with them and they come round to our house and she goes to theirs. But apart from them, she really struggles.

At the weekend we were at an event with a girl who my daughter was in primary school with - this is a girl who is very nice, friendly, personable and my daughter has known her since nursery class. As far as I know they haven't had a falling out or anything, but my daughter just wouldn't talk to her - she tensed up completely any time anyone of her own age came near. It breaks my heart - she used to be such an outgoing child in the early years of primary school.

I try to talk to her about it being ok to be quiet and that not everyone needs to be the centre of attention, but that people like to see people smiling at them and even just saying 'hello' but even that seems to be beyond her. I feel the tension when she's close to anyone from her school ... it's like having a caged animal beside you who just wants to run away. My heart goes out to her and I wish there was something I could do. I'm really afraid that she'll spend all her time in high school sitting at her desk, dreading anyone coming near her - till lunchtime when she can go and see her 2 friends. What she does on days when they're not in, I'm not sure though. Also, one of them is probably going to be moving away from the area soon so that will leave her with one friend.

Can anyone help me to help her? I don't want to give her a complex about it or to force her to do things she's uncomfortable with. I've tried to invite other girls around to the house to give her a chance to get to know them on a one-to-one basis, but that hasn't gone well as I think she's been terrified and ended up either sounding like she was loudly boasting about things or else just clamming up and not speaking. She didn't seem to do the back and forth conversation very well at all - though she does with her 2 friends.

Any advice would be so gratefully received - I just want other people to be able to see the lovely girl she is at home.

JustDanceAddict Tue 19-Jan-16 14:42:55

My daughter only has a couple of proper close friends at school, although she does have friends that she sees within a group setting and some friends out of school she has known since she was a baby. She is a naturally quiet girl (although not at home, but I think that's completely different) and I was also shy so can relate. Is your DD happy with the situation? My DD hates to be pressurised into making arrangements, so I have stopped now and let her sort out her own life (she is in year 9, but young for year). She is always keen to do social things, but just finds it hard to make that strong connection with other girls, esp the next step into 'proper' friendship who you can see on a one-to-one basis.
Do her two good friends have other girls that they can introduce your DD to or do they all just hang out in a 3? That might be an 'in' for her, or are there any clubs at school she can join that are conducive to making new friends? Also, some schools have a nurture group for children who find it hard socially.

Leeny101 Tue 19-Jan-16 15:53:59

Thank you so much for your reply. I know you're right about not pressurising, but sometimes I worry that I didn't get involved enough at a younger age when I might have been able to make a difference - a few times when I saw her getting a 'knock back' (e.g. someone not letting her join in) I thought it was best trying to let her sort it out herself. Looking back now, maybe I could have helped. I know it's easy to blame ourselves though.

Her other friends don't seem to have other friends either and I'm worried that they're becoming 'outsiders'. I think the longer she gets into the habit of not interacting, the harder it will be to change.

I don't know about a nurture group - haven't heard of one but we're new to the school so there may well be something. I'll enquire about that.

It's the feeling of her always looking in from the outside that worries me ... because I know deep down she'd love to join in, but it terrifies her.

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