Shy teenage girls are not unusual. In a world where the coolest clothes, the newest electronics, a shiny new car and so many other material items can make a girl feel out of the loop if she doesn’t have them or desire them, it’s sometimes hard not to be shy. While there’s nothing wrong with the fact that your teenage daughter isn’t a social butterfly, she will benefit from learning to be more social. Some people may mistake her shyness for snobbery, and she may suffer in the future, whether at college or in her career, if she does not learn to socialize. She doesn’t have to love it, but she should learn to do it.
Encourage your teenage daughter to start small and socialize with a small group of people at a small gathering, such as a study group or a dinner date with two or three other teens her age, advises Bernardo Carducci, Ph.D., author and director of the Shyness Research Center at Indiana University. Stop pushing her to attend parties or dances or other events that are full of other teenagers. It does not help her shyness when you are constantly interfering in her personal life, trying to turn her into a socialite by forcing socialization on her.
Encourage her to make small talk in her everyday life with people she finds less threatening or overwhelming than her peers. Carducci suggests asking her to talk to the mailman or the clerk at the grocery store, or even the woman who does your dry cleaning. For example, she can strike up a conversation about the weather, a sports team or a current event. This practice is likely to help her feel more comfortable than making small talk with teens her own age.
Ask your daughter to sign up for a group or club that interests her, advises Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D. and author of the book, “Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence.” If she is interested in reading, joining a book club in which all the members are also interested in reading eliminates the fear that she will have nothing to talk about at social gatherings for the book club. Being around a group of people interested in the same things as herself provides her with the opportunity to practice socializing and overcoming some of her shyness, which is likely to help her in other aspects of her social life.
Do not expect results overnight. Your daughter is not going to go from a wallflower to the most social girl in school after attending one party or event. She needs time and practice to help her learn to socialize, and she may never be an overly social girl because of her shyness.
Watch for signs of drinking. According to Carducci, some shy teens are more likely to turn to alcohol in social settings as a way of loosening up and making the act of conversation and socializing easier and more bearable. This does not make your daughter more social, it simply creates an even bigger problem.