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I have a 14 year old daughter who is socially withdrawn

around kids her age....
I have a 14 year old daughter who is socially withdrawn around kids her age. She has a hard time talking to people and making friends. She has always been a little shy, but now that she is a teenager, it seems it's become a little more than that. She is uncomfortable around kids her age, and seems to have very little social skills. For the most part she seems to be happy, doesn't mope around crying that she doesn't fit in, but I know she wishes she was one of those kids who is comfortable around others. I don't know how to help her.
I have tried getting her involved in activities. She loves sewing and crafts and she recently was a teen counselor for a sewing camp where she would help younger kids with sewing. I was hoping she would make friends with others teen camp counselors, but when I went to pick her up, she was standing alone, while the other teens were talking to each other. She is good at basketball and volleyball, but hates the stress and competition so she won't get involved with those things. I have tried to get her involved in activities, but it seems like the same thing always happens. She is standing there by herself while the other kids get to know each other, and she's left out.
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Answered in 9 minutes by:
8/11/2013
RealSupport
RealSupport, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3,191
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
Verified
Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about your daughter's situation.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

What you describe in your message shows a person who could be very shy, introverted and as you said, with limited social and coping skills. I believe she could be very smart, sensitive and caring, since has been able to cope with these problems and perform at different areas regardless such limitations. The good news is that independently of what could be the core problem here, she has the assertiveness and strength to expose herself to situations that re challenging and demanding for many peeple, specially for introverts ad who experience high levels of anxiety.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Introverts, shy people do experience anxiety in stronger intensity than extroverts, or people who have both tendencies balanced, allowing them to socialize and share without major problems. Our "temperament" is the genetic- physiological - concrete root of our emotional self, what makes some people introverts, others extroverts and many in between. We do not choose what type of temperament we have, since ti is not something we create, but it comes wired in our nervous system. On the other hand, our character is the other core aspect of our personality, but it is the one we literally develop, shape by every experience we get from the moment we come to this world to our last day in it. It is what develops from every emotion, feelings, words, physical experiences, beliefs, values and everything that happens in our lives at every level.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Social and coping skills develop and are learned from infancy, and depend on how well temperament helps such process, the quality of the experiences and situations the individual is exposed to, every stimuli really, real and subjective experiences; those the person faces and those that she witnesses or observes in real life, by TV, books or through other media.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Introverts or people who are shy do have a hard time developing or improving social and coping skills, and every experience reinforce their fears and inhibitions, beliefs and expectations about themselves, their abilities and limitations. Thus how well parenting, positive modeling, raising experience, family relationships and support system they have, would make the difference but could not dramatically change the tendencies or predispositions they have. This is where more specialized support would be necessary, for parents to support children and for young people to know how to develop these skills and better cope with challenges they face in their social interactions.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

My suggestion is for you to dialogue with her about getting counseling or even better, support through psychotherapy, for her to work on her sense of self-worthiness, self-esteem, self-confidence, social, coping and communication skills and for you to know how to support her even better. She is still very young, then this si the best time for her to work on these improvements ,and this is why psychotherapy should be considered as an ideal source of support. Does it make sense?

Customer:

I have considered psychotherapy for her, but how do I approach her in a way that won't make her feel bad about herself? I have tried a few times to ask her how she feels about her situation, but it seems to depress her that I'm worried about her. It makes me want to back off and let her be, but then my instincts can't let it go and I continue to worry about her.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Your daughter is already 14 years old, but it seems that you have a hard time even talking to her about her feelings, concerns or problems. A child needs and deserves both parents' consistent understanding, caring and support; and they cannot be provided without permanent good communication and sharing, showing empathy, compassion and hope. Letting her be depressed is never a good option, since it tales away the very role both parents should play towards their children, specially when they are still young.

If a child feels bad about herself because of a parent attempts to show caring, understanding and support, then such core issue must be addressed and both should work on making concrete changes. One fo the things every parent must do in similar situations is to educate her-himself about mental health and sound parenting, including eradicating prejudices and biases around counseling and psychotherapy, which could only undermine a person's chances to get necessary support. Adjusting or limiting yourselves to prejudices-biases around receiving mental health support would only reinforce and enable distorted views and behaviors, and that's the last thing a parent should promote in a child's mind and heart.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I truly hope you and your spouse could work together on supporting your daughter, and improving your communication and intimacy, in ways you could share much more and better, supporting her, specially about core problems and challenges, from depression and socialization issues, to facing developmental challenges. A female marriage and family therapist could be a good professional to support her with individual psychotherapy and you with parenting and family therapy or collateral sessions to work on these areas..

RealSupport
RealSupport, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3,191
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
Verified
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

I only meant by that, that I didn't want to point out her flaws to her and make her feel bad about herself. Not that suggesting she needed therapy would make her feel bad about herself.

You have made me think about our level of communication, and that it could be improved and maybe we should talk about our feelings on a deeper level.

For now I will send her to a therapist for her communication skills. Thank you for your advice.

I see as a parent what you mean now that you explained it, thank you for clarifying. I would feel the same, but whenever it is about parent-child relationships, and helping them to grow and develop, to become themselves, healthy and happy, we need to be open and able to have direct communication to the point of expressing our feelings, concerns and problems. Not talking about serious problems, painful feelings or limitations would never help but could perpetuate the problems and distant parent and child while they get older.
I totally support your plan for getting psychotherapy for her and you and your spouse working together to develop deeper and closer communication with her, which would always be the best way to support her.
Thank you for your trust. Please feel free to contact me for any further support.
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