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Painfully shy grandchild

(72 Posts)
Lindill49 Mon 21-Mar-16 17:04:50

Has anybody any advice for coping with a painfully shy 11 yr old granddaughter? She is very bright and going to grammar school in September but talking to her is like pulling teeth. It's quite embarrassing - to the point of downright rudeness - when with other adults. She has her special friends at school (one of whom is quite bullying) but teachers say she won't put herself forward for anything. Her mum (my lovely happy outgoing daughter) is at her wits end and is thinking of counselling. Any thoughts?

grannylyn65 Mon 21-Mar-16 17:22:38

This is a difficult one, particularly as she is a 'tweenager' Do you have a close relationship with her? Build on that , if she knows she can trust you, this is a good start. I assume that her friends have been to stay and vice versa? My son was painfully shy, but 'grew out of it' his children have an abundance of self confidence!

Lindill49 Mon 21-Mar-16 18:04:52

I've tried very hard to be close to her but very often she won't acknowledge me when I visit (same with everyone) - She runs off. Her Mum & Dad fetch her back and insist she's polite. Yes she has friends round frequently and stays with them. It's heartbreaking really when I just want to cuddle her. We're hoping the very good grammar school will fetch her out a bit but are worried she won't fit in unless she changes her attitude (very bolshy sometimes) . We just can't seem to get through to her either through love or punishment.

Jane10 Mon 21-Mar-16 18:10:30

Maybe take the pressure to greet you off? Just carry on and chat to DD and if the DGD joins you later just give her a pat or a wink to show you're pleased to see her? Poor girl. Spontaneous initiation of greeting can be so hard. Play it cool if you can. Good luck!

grannylyn65 Mon 21-Mar-16 18:13:09

She sounds very like my DD who put the B in bolshy, it is what it is, just continue to do what you are doing, she will need you one day 💐

shysal Mon 21-Mar-16 18:21:27

I agree with Jane10. I was very similar as a child (not much better now!). The more I was nagged the worse I felt, it would have been better to let me thaw in my own time. I had the added misfortune to know nobody when I moved to the grammar school, which made for an unhappy time.
I hope you can give her space and time.

Synonymous Mon 21-Mar-16 18:29:52

Linddill I would heartily agree with Shysal and add that the more people draw attention to it the worse it gets. I was painfully shy as a child and still suffered greatly right through to when I had my DC. I then had a role to play as I was someone's mum and it was a little better and gradually went away. The teasing and forcing as a child was unbearable and made everything ten times worse.
I think it is part of not being in control of things and not knowing what to expect that is so hard as well as being right down at the bottom of the pecking order.
What is the punishment about? hmm

obieone Mon 21-Mar-16 18:37:50

She manages to be polite with friends her age, but not with adults, even you her grandmother. How is she with teachers at school? How is she with the parents of friends?

trisher Mon 21-Mar-16 18:49:47

I always wonder about this. When I was a child the best children were those who kept quiet and spoke when spoken to (which wasn't that much). In fact when adults were about we weren't expected to say anything. Nowadays it is the chatty, pushy child who wants to be the centre of attention (and usually is) who is seen as the best. My point is that children come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and like adults some are quiet and don't say much, some never stop talking. I was also shy and quiet as a child and didn't put myself forward for anything, but this wasn't seen as a huge problem. I did grow out of it but not until I was in my twenties. I wonder why you think she is almost "downright rude"? Could you not explain to the adults 'she's just a bit shy'? I'm sure most would understand. I would just ease off on pressuring her and accept her as she is. When she goes to grammar school she may find that her quietness and intelligence are more appreciated. You describe her as "bolshy sometimes" I wonder if she is picking up on your anxieties and thinks that you don't really love her as she is (I'm sure you do) so she will make herself even more difficult. Hope you are able to find some solution.

MiniMouse Mon 21-Mar-16 19:00:54

Has she always been this shy or is it a new trait? You mention that your DD is lovely and outgoing, but perhaps your GD finds 'outgoing' as a bit overwhelming? That's not meant as a criticism! - just trying to think of a child's eye view!

emmasnan Mon 21-Mar-16 19:31:13

I was a very shy child brought up in a large outgoing family. I felt totally overwhelmed when extended family visited, I would also try and get away just to go for a walk or be alone. I was brought back and made to say hello it was humiliating for me and did not cure my shyness at all.

I had a couple of aunts who would just call out hello and leave me to come to them when I was ready. After a while I would come into the room and later sit by them. They didn't comment on my shyness just carried on talking to me as if I'd been there all along, I adored them.
I am still a shy adult but not as bad as when I was a child, my husband and people who know me well understand I'm not unsociable in large groups of people but just feel very uncomfortable and can't handle it.

Luckygirl Mon 21-Mar-16 19:32:04

I wonder if it might be best to draw as little attention to it as possible - it must be agony for her to be hauled back into the room with the insistence that she be "polite." That is a bit heavy it seems to me.

Just accepting her as she is might be best - especially as she seems to relate OK to her peers. Hopefully she will grow out of it if not too much fuss is made. I do understand how frustrating it must be for you.

Judthepud2 Mon 21-Mar-16 20:31:50

She sounds as if she is moving into that difficult age when they don't have the confidence to interact with adults. It can come across as rudeness, but to me rudeness is aggression and unpleasantness. Your DGD sounds like she is just trying to avoid difficult situations.

Has she always been shy? If so, this is her personality and, as others have said, she needs to be shown that she is valued for the way she is. I have a policy of not forcing myself on children and wait for them to come to me as I was a shy child and hated being swooped on or forced into social interaction.

Tresco Mon 21-Mar-16 20:32:45

It's heartbreaking really when I just want to cuddle her

I wonder if this is the key. Some people are just not tactile, and especially not as they head towards puberty and trying to find their identity in a more grown-up world. Maybe she backs off because she doesn't want to be cuddled but feels there is pressure on her to allow it. I agree with everyone who says back off, and let her come to you if she wants to.

Jalima Mon 21-Mar-16 20:46:48

We just can't seem to get through to her either through love or punishment.
Not punishment, I don't think that will help at all.

A friend's daughter was painfully shy, would hang her head and not look at people at all, although I think she was OK at home with her immediate family. The youngest child in the family, she blossomed as a young woman and is one of the friendliest, most chatty young people I know. She met a lovely slightly older man whom she married and I think having children has brought her out of herself.

Jane10 Mon 21-Mar-16 21:23:36

I well remember being told to kiss various elderly relatives and hating it. I used to get an electric shock from one (very nice) but whiskery great aunt. I used to dread it.

Leticia Mon 21-Mar-16 22:04:44

Maybe she is very wary if you want to cuddle her- I didn't want to be cuddled as a child. I was also shy. The worst thing is to draw attention to it.
Can't you do things with her so that you have something to do to take the pressure off? Play games, cook, go for a walk etc.

TwiceAsNice Mon 21-Mar-16 23:18:04

The school will hopefully have a counsellor when she gets there if she feels it will help. Every senior school here in Wales has one but I think the provision in the rest of the country is not always as plentiful.

If she has managed to make some friends she must be managing somehow. It's unusual for children not to be sociable within their own family, has she always ignored you, do you tell her it upsets you.

I hope you are able to get some help for you all as a family

WilmaKnickersfit Tue 22-Mar-16 00:35:39

A friend lent my SiL a book called The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron and she said it was a revelation. It covers a wide age range up to adolescence and I just looked it up on Amazon and it gets 4.5 stars. Perhaps you could borrow a copy from the library. I think it would help you and your family. smile

whitewave Tue 22-Mar-16 07:32:28

Yes a book sounds good

My youngest grandson had no confidence and this came over as shyness. My daughter gave it a lot of thought and decided to concentrate on what he was/is good at which is sport. So she signed him up to swimming lessons and athletics club where he shone.
Over the years he has gradually grown in confidence and is unrecognizable compared to the child he was. He will never be a pushy child - none of our family are - but it has definately worked with regard to his self worth etc.

thatbags Tue 22-Mar-16 07:44:45

I think lots of socially awkward teenagers and pre-teens grow up into less awkward adults. It's very common for adolescents to feel and to appear shy and gauche (mainly because they are!), always has been. I think it's a bit weird of us to expect anything else when you consider how monumental puberty and adolescence is in a person's development.

I expect your grand-daughter will grow out of her awkwardness, lindill. Meanwhile, some other posters have made good suggestions smile

PRINTMISS Tue 22-Mar-16 07:49:24

I think it is best to just to ignore it, but include her in all the conversation and activities. Perhaps she would like to go to a dancing group - somewhere where they learn to act/dance, then put on performances? Our grandson was very shy, (now an adult of course), but put him on the stage (he belonged to a small group) and out of his own skin he was another person. Now very outgoing,probably too much so, and still enjoying the theatre.

Lillie Tue 22-Mar-16 08:20:20

As someone has already said, children come in all shapes and sizes; some are painfully shy and others are very precocious. I'm not sure there's much you can do to change a shy child, other than to allow him/her to find something at which to excel and then praise achievement.

I'm assuming you granddaughter is bright if she has passed the entrance tests to a good grammar school. Often some of these clever children are quite reserved and introverts by temperament, (i.e. they prefer NOT to socialise, but they are quite capable of joining in if they need to.) They use their brains to concentrate on straightforward tasks. It isn't something to worry about because, to be honest, they all come out in the wash!

My experience, as an interviewer of 11 year olds for secondary school places, is that the school will have selected your granddaughter because it thinks she will suit their type of education. From there on the school will help her to grow in maturity and she will reflect on the type of person she wants to become.

Indinana Tue 22-Mar-16 09:47:21

I was never shy, and neither did I have to deal with this in either of my two DC, but I have seen, at close quarters, children in my family who have been afflicted with extreme shyness. Watching their agony as they try to cope, while all they want to do is flee, has been heartbreaking.

The little girl should be allowed to escape, without drawing any attention to her - that would be the very worst thing in her mind. Leave her to find a way to deal with this. She will have to summon up so much courage, simply to walk into a room full of adults. It will take every ounce of strength she can muster. When she has managed this, don't all turn to her at once, just acknowledge her presence quietly and then leave her alone.

Izabella Tue 22-Mar-16 10:52:56

Wise words Indiana.