My 9th grade daughter is a bit on the shy side and needs help finding her public voice. She certainly knows what she wants and boy can she argue for it at home. Out of the house, however, she loses her determination and does not do a good job of clearly communicating her thoughts or desires. For example, she almost folds in on herself when shaking hands with new people, speaks softly when she isn't sure of herself, or might avoid buying something if she has to be the one to go to the cashier. We are looking for advise or a recommendation on how to help her channel her confidence so that it shows, or to even fake it when necessary, such as in a school or job interview. Being a 14 year old girl, advice from her parents is not taken to kindly. Thanks.
A theatrical alter-ego is always good! Seriously, Beyonce has Sasha Fierce and it has served her well.
I am not a professional but as the mother of three girls I say, get your kid to "inhabit" another personality. Something completely over the top. Then take her to a town where she has never been (and will never return to) and let her loose to practice the details!
Flamboyance, extravagance and extreme behaviors are key. Even if is it just a phone persona at first...let her try on the experience of being annoyingly confidant for just a bit. After that she will slowly incorporate it into her own real-life behaviors.
Seriously, modern dance class, pottery, horseback riding, special and unusual pursuits are all great for self-image. Making friends with people with similar interests would be great. Give her something she can really succeed at.
martial arts! (I think NJ tae kwon do on valley is good). I also think the literal "finding your voice" with singing of some sort would probably help (I did yogic chanting)
I always found acting (just school plays, little theater) helped me be more outgoing. When I was a teen, I was quiet and sort of shy - but when I was playing a part, I wasn't "me" any longer, I was that person and could do things that might not be easy for me in real life. After a while, it just became easier to speak up.
Then I went from a parochial high school to Hunter College and that really made me learn to advocate for myself. It was such a large school that if you didn't speak up, no one would even notice you were there.
Some of my happiest memories from college were being in the G&S productions we'd put on each year - so I would definitely recommend acting (or even working on the production in a backstage capacity - stage manager is definitely a position that requires you to be assertive, so working as an assistant SM might also help her.)
My daughter is a bit like this too and hates to be pointed out. Her former therapist recommended Improve. After some research, I found a class with Lulu French which sounded pretty low key and not trying to get a kid to Broadway. Unfortunately, I didn't succeed in getting her to do it but it definitely was the right idea. I did get her to agree to stay in orchestra and got her private lessons with a teacher who is a bit quirky but firm. Being part of a group can also help a kid learn to be more confident IMHO. She also agreed to be part of the stage crew for the school production. If she isn't ready to stand on her own yet, keeping her willing to be involved is a start.
Dale Carnegie has a course for teens. It's called Generation Next. If I remember correctly, it's two day class so it consolidates a lot of tips and techniques in a short period of time. Two of my kids did it together and they thought it was fun so if she has a friend who can join her it's pretty painless.
Check out Girls Leadership Institute, which has workshops in NJ and a summer camp on the Mount Holyoke campus in MA: http://girlsleadership.org/
"Girls Leadership teaches girls the skills to know who they are, what they believe, and how to express it, empowering them to create change in their world." They were founded by a woman who has authored books about helping girls find their voices and become empowered. It seems like a great organization; I've been considering this for my daughter.
Stoneleigh Burnham School in MA runs a Public Speaking summer program called a "Voice of her Own". My daughter did it, and loved her time there. Very well-run, low-key and for girls only, unlike every other debate/public speaking camp that I know of, and it was so empowering for her at the time.
twindad said:My 9th grade daughter is a bit on the shy side and needs help finding her public voice. She certainly knows what she wants and boy can she argue for it at home. Out of the house, however, she loses her determination and does not do a good job of clearly communicating her thoughts or desires. For example, she almost folds in on herself when shaking hands with new people, speaks softly when she isn't sure of herself, or might avoid buying something if she has to be the one to go to the cashier. We are looking for advise or a recommendation on how to help her channel her confidence so that it shows, or to even fake it when necessary, such as in a school or job interview. Being a 14 year old girl, advice from her parents is not taken to kindly. Thanks.
What if any extracurricular a does she do? School can be a big Lonely place if you don't have "your people". I have seen shy, quirky outsiders blossom in Marching Band - which encompasses color guard for those that don't play instruments. If she is amenable some low key therapy or social skills groups might also be a good idea
Maplewood Karate can help, right in Maplewood village.
Thanks for all the helpful suggestions. We have been trying to work the theater/arts angle, but just recently.
Theater and music really helped me in high school. Going to an all-women's college really helped me as well. Good luck! She'll figure herself out.
I have a kid who is similar to yours. I have no specific suggestions for changing the situation but highly recommend the book, Quiet, by Susan Cain. It helped me not stress too much about my quiet kid.
Please google "selective mutism." Look at the description and see if your daughter's behavior strikes you as a mild case. When you said that at home she's fine, but outside in the world she is not, that was the clue. If you think selective mutism may apply, no amount of improv or karate will help. She will need a therapist who is very experienced in this diagnosis.
It may be mild Social Anxiety, which my daughter (also 14) suffers from. It can be crippling... She sees a therapist to help her overcome her terror, and it has helped immensely.
People with social phobia tend to:Be very anxious about being with other people and have a hard time talking to them, even though they wish they couldBe very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassedBe very afraid that other people will judge themWorry for days or weeks before an event where other people will beStay away from places where there are other peopleHave a hard time making friends and keeping friendsBlush, sweat, or tremble around other peopleFeel nauseous or sick to their stomach when with other people.
Does she play an instrument? If yes, the CHS marching band or drum line are wonderful. They are very accepting and friendly.
14 is the darkest time for many people. Not that you should be complacent and give up, but don't expect to see quick results from all the help she gets.
You are describing my daughter. From the time she was able to talk through her early 20s she was painfully shy. She was too shy to ask teachers for help. She was too shy to speak to the car repairman who had fixed our cars her whole life. She was also often too shy to go to up to a cashier or to ask a salesperson for help. I worried endlessly about her and tried everything. She was so shy that if she witnessed a situation where I stood up for myself she became upset.
Now she is 28 and WOW - you would never know. She supervises 12 people and has no trouble speaking up to supervisors or executives. She is able to stand up for herself. She is both compassionate and confident. I could not be more surprised, or more proud of her.
I am not sure what brought about the change but I believe she had to find it from inside herself. Having a job ( not a great job, just a job) that she excelled at helped. I think that finding a relationship with a wonderful young man helped her as well.
The biggest mistake I made as her mom (and I wish I could change that) was to push her. It didn't help, only made her feel less confident and worse.
The best advice I can give you is to let your daughter find it herself. She needs to build confidence. Pointing out her weaknesses, even if it is to help her overcome them is counterproductive. Pushing her to do something she finds excruciating only makes it harder. At fourteen kids don't realize that their parents and their teachers are really on their side. Sometimes they see us as adversaries who make their lives harder.
I would try to encourage her in things she is good at. If she loves to sing get her singing lessons. If she is a fast runner put her in soccer. I suspect you are doing this already. Again , I tried everything. Some things didn't work - she hated them - and if she did I let her drop out. But some things worked out really well. I was a single mom - and when I sensed she was having a hard time we would have special mother daughter time. Three or four times a year I would let her skip a day of school and we would go into the city to a museum or special event. Those special times stayed with her forever. On some Friday nights we would team up with another mom and daughter and sometimes just go to Barnes and Noble to hang out but sometimes we would go on adventures.
Also, when we could anticipate times when she would have to speak up for herself we would practice in advance. If my daughter had to speak to a teacher she was afraid of , we would practice at home. First I would pretend to be her, and she would pretend to be the teacher. Then we would reverse rolls. I tried to make it fun. I used to do silly imitations of who ever it was she had to talk to. When she had to do reports in front of the class we did the same thing. When she had to make an important phone call , if she was nervous, we did the same thing. We "practiced" for college interviews. When someone was picking on her in school we would craft a response and practice it at home.
Good luck. I think my daughter's own social difficulties have contributed to making her a wonderfully warm and compassionate young woman.
Another thought..... my daughter was an avid reader. Books of Wonder is a children's bookstore in Manhattan that often has free talks with prominent authors. When ever there was an author of interest to my daughter we would go and we would hear the author talk and she would get to meet and speak with the author. Her excitement and enthusiasm would enable her to overcome her shyness. Beginning when she was in the 8th grade we also got tickets to hear prominent authors and thinkers speak at the 92nd street Y. The tickets are not expensive and often after the talk or reading you can get your book signed by the author and meet them briefly. Usually, they are very kind and solicitous to young people. My daughter was able to meet and speak with famous authors like Margaret Atwood, Eve Ensler, Isabelle Allende, Phillip Pullman and even J K Rowling ( before Harry Potter was a hit) and also Al Gore, Wangari Maathai ( Nobel laureate), Frank Stella and many more. At the 92nd street Y, they allow the audience to write questions on index cards which the guest may answer. We came up with good questions in advance and it was very exciting when the guest would answer HER question and pick her out of the audience. I think that these little things that helped make her feel special and helped feed her confidence and self worth.
Wonderful stories, @sarahzm.
friendorfoe said:martial arts! (I think NJ tae kwon do on valley is good). I also think the literal "finding your voice" with singing of some sort would probably help (I did yogic chanting)
My Kibbeboy has the opposite problem from the OP but nevertheless, he does enjoy karate. He even assists classes now and it's a huge confidence booster. He works with adults and kids his age and younger. Finding the right school is the key. Above all, she should be interested in the art and willing to give it a shot.
Would she be willing to stop by the improv club at CHS? It meets friday afternoons after school at the Black Box Theater at 3:30pm. Both of my kids were misfits in their own special ways (and I say this with love) -- though nothing alike, they both flourished there. No one is forced to perform, but so many people are cheerfully making fools of themselves that it's easy to join in. There's also a closed Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/136636509774418/
PS It's called The Russian Embassy
So, I called my daughter last night and asked her how she overcame her shyness. She said she is still very shy with people she doesnt know really well or in unfamiliar situations but she realized being shy was getting her nowhere. She said if she has to speak at a meeting or with someone important she still practices before hand. She said sometimes she just fakes it. She said sometimes she thinks of people she admires, or of outgoing people she knows and just acts like they would act. She said it also helps to try not to worry about what people think about her, but instead about how they feel. She realized everyone is actually shy inside and if she concerns herself with making them feel comfortable she feels better too.
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