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Too shy daughter


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My daughter is so painfully shy that life seems to be passing her by. I'm beginning to believe that some of her failures are due to this shyness. With a little more effort and speaking up for herself she possibly could be in a whole different situation today as far as her schooling and direction in life. But alas she just sits back in her own little world. I have noticed over the years that there are always a few like her in ballet class, that ballet is a safety net for these children to quietly express themselves without words. Since this does seem to be her safety net we allow it and continue to fund her tuition. It is so frustrating as a parent to see my child letting the world pass by and not jumping in an taking a chance at grabbing the golden ring. She has taken a few baby steps to independence. She did get a temporary job to save money for a trip this summer but when the chance to stay at the job longer came up she didn't say anything to her boss and was laid off. I can see it coming that she'll just shrug off the trip because she hasn't made enough money. My husband is ready to pull the plug on her dance tuition since she won't speak up there while others reap opportunities by just asking. How do I get my girl to speak up and fight for herself? I have stepped back and let my children fight their own since middle school but it's so hard to watch my daughter get stepped on time and time again because she's so shy. :D

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tu2mama, I feel your pain on this topic, as my own DD was the very same for many years. She stilll is in some regards. She used to hide at the back of class, and be the last to put her hand up for anything!! It was very discouraging to watch :D In her 1st company performance in residency program she was offered a major role, but turned it down......broke my heart, because I knew she could fulfill the role offered! It just took time for her to "grow into" herself and build up the confindence needed to succeed. She still has many moments of self-doubt (a dancer trait??), but I try to remind her of why she began this journey, and that not trying is not an option.

Good luck to you and your DD, gently keep supporting and encouraging her

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Don't you just wish that sometimes you could kind of be there with them and whisper encouragement in their ears?


Unfortunately ... kids need to find their own way in the world. Even the shy ones.


I wonder, as I read your description of her, if it's possible she has an anxiety disorder? Would she be willing to consider a visit to a therapist for an evaluation? Even her primary physician might be able to make a diagnosis. She might find some relief with talk therapy, or with medication.


It's also important to remember that this is part of who she is, even though sometimes you might wish otherwise. Not everyone in this world is a go-getter -- and where would we be if everyone were? Yuck! I think the real question is whether she is content with her life. Can she find a niche within which she is comfortable? Does she feel she has the freedom to do that, or does she feel there are expectations she must live up to? (My parents still think I'm "wasting" my PhD teaching elementary school, but the fact is I'm quite content where I am -- although it took until well into adulthood to figure out what suited me best.)

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I think sometimes the culture of the school kids attend can make a big difference. My daughter changed schools and learned by the example of others having a go at various activities - sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. Looking back on this experience, I think she learnt that failure is not to be feared but to be learned from. We try to adopt the same 'have a go - what have you got to lose?' approach. I am by no means a model parent :wallbash: I know it can be difficult to watch your precious child shy away from opportunity. I suppose I'm just saying 'things can change'.

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I think that a big problem with shyness is that, as parents of shy kids, we often find, after we've raised them a good amount of years, that in our effort to help, we protected them too much from experiences. I say this with utter humility because it's something I've been guilty of. And I'm sure I should've known better: I was raised in a family of shy kids and, although within that family, I was considered outgoing, when measured against any other group of people, I was mighty shy indeed.


My mom was such a kind, nurturing person that she never wanted us to feel hurt or slighted. Instead, she protected us from anything she thought we couldn't handle. Shy kids APPEAR unable to handle much on their own, although the truth might be rather a different matter. In the end, although her message of love certainly came through loud and clear, my mom prevented us from learning how to deal with our hurts, how to put ourselves forward and relate to others personally and professionally without her smoothing the way.


I behaved much the same way with my firstborn shy child for most of his younger pre-adolescent life. It took my taking a lot of parenting courses over and over again before I broke some of my habits. From birth, my daughter was raised by a different mother. :wub: My skills were much better and so I could guide her rather than take on her problems as my own. Although she's initially reserved by many people's standards, she's a quite capable young woman, lacking many of the fears shared by my entire family. In fact, she's quite daring by common standards.


Anyway, the best thing is that people can change. I went from being super-shy and unable to attend parties without retreating into another room, unable to defend myself professionally even while someone else was stealing my work, unable to make business overtures, insecure about many relationships, to my present life where I really DO feel capable and decently secure. My husband, a VERY outgoing individual, who's known me for 30 years, has said often that he's enjoyed watching my metamorphosis over the years. There were many times he wasn't sure it would be possible, or so he tells me after all these years. :offtopic:


Shyness can be a really wonderful trait in the long-run, as long as it doesn't inhibit an active full life. Many shy people lead a more reflective life and that results in their being more perceptive and empathetic towards others. Those are quite sought-after qualities. While young, they may seem a liability, but those contemplative, insightful traits honed by years of observation can serve one well later on in life. So the trick is to guide a shy young person, one baby step after another, towards independence by allowing them the satisfaction of learning how to recover from their own mistakes while still ensuring that they have opportunities to make small, successful decisions about their lives on an ongoing basis. It's a tough balancing act for parent and child.

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Having had 3 who were initially very shy--the oldest used to literally hide her face in my skirt, I would encourage you to look at how she feels about dance before pulling the plug. Dance really helped my shy kids to come out of their shells. My youngest, who is still extremely shy, really lights up while on stage. She says that it is because she is playing someone else, she can be the brave her, or whatever character she is playing. Just because your daughter isn't progressing in dance doesn't mean that it isn't beneficial to her emotionally. My youngest was one of those who always danced in the back corner. She really went unnoticed in her dance school for years and years, the perenniel understudy. And we always saw others advanced when she was not. But she loved it, stuck to it , and is now dancing professionally. She is now living on the opposite coast from me and doing great.

It has been interesting watching the 3 of them grow up. The oldest probably started out the shyest, and is now very assertive and was the dancer representative for her company. The middle one was very social, never met a stranger, a friend to everyone who is now a little more subdued than she was when she was a teenager. The youngest one is still finding herself but seems like she is doing a good job of it.

I always wish that they could be more confident but then remember that like Vagansmom, I was really shy as a young person also. I can now give presentations in front of huge groups of people and love it. So, just let her find her way and be supportive as she does. Let her know that you love her, just as she is, and she will find her way.

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Beautifully written lillianna. :huh:

So, just let her find her way and be supportive as she does. Let her know that you love her, just as she is, and she will find her way.


Unless you see your daughter becoming depressed and/or unable to be productive in her life - then she is probably finding her way. If she is out of academic school, then perhaps you and your husband can sit down and talk to her about what her plans are and where she sees herself...maybe talk about the need for her to take some responsibility for paying for her ballet classes if she's not in college? Just some thoughts.


It's hard being a parent sometimes, I know. :mondieu:


On a lighter note, I had to laugh when I read Treefrog's comments about what kind of world would it be if it were filled completely with "go getters"!? :shrug: Now that is a scary proposition! :thumbsup:

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Everyone's support in this matter really helps put me at ease. :wacko: I often forget that she is on the younger side of her peers therefore probably pretty much on track if there is one. Yeah, if the world was filled with go getters it would be a scary place. Sometimes people annoy me and I have to tell myself that it takes all kinds, even stage moms have their purpose. I can't see taking away ballet from my daughter as long as we can afford it. She's working hard in college and needs the creative release that ballet gives her. Ballet will probably always be a part of her life since it helps her express herself in her own quiet way. Fortunately she does not seemed depressed, just sometimes a bit frustrated about the way things go for her. Some people seem to have it handed to them on a silver platter yet others always have to work so hard. She's the later.

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tu2mama, isn't it usually, or at least often, those who have to work the hardest for things who come out that much better in the end? They are the ones who understand what it takes, appreciate it more, and have the desire and ability to follow through and make better use of what they have accomplished! :wacko:

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I think this passage, from a book I'm reading about becoming a surgeon, is pertinent:


There have now been many studies of elite performers...and the biggest difference researchers find between them and lesser performers is the cumulative amount of deliberate practice they've had. Indeed, the most important talent may be the talent for practice itself.
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I feel that many times, good things come to those who wait.


And quite frankly, I often find myself in my dotage to be fatigued by the

noisy, the ambitious, the scenery-chewers, the in-your-face types and the

verbose whatever types. I have come to admire the quiet ones, the close to the vest ones who are not genetically or culturally programmed to continually

"express themselves". Not that it is wrong to be a "big personality" but I find

many reserved people to be a breath of fresh air because they have confidence they will not disappear when they are not talking about themselves. They know

who they are and where they are going and they don't need the affirmation of

the outside world. I often wonder if they don't find the rest of us to be trite.


However, as a parent it is difficult, often to see the upside of "shyness" as we can sometimes perceive our child will stay in the soft shadows forever. But as every parent here knows our end goal (forget ballet, soccer, Harvard) is to bring fine young people into this world. Plus it is an honor and a privilege to do so. I bet

you have done so. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy. Your daughter will find

her place in the world---she just doesn't need to knock anyone down to get there.

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