I didn't hear back from you this morning, but I will go ahead and move forward with my answer. I was a single parent for a while but I had an active co-parent in my ex husband. Having a good support system really is helpful and understanding that you don't have to feel guilt for the circumstances is key. You have taken on a big role and you are now responsible for acting as a nurturer and disciplinarian. Often times, single parent families rear heathy relationships and as a person, the parent becomes much stronger and resilient. With your child, maintaining boundaries will be important. Don't emotionally lean too much on them for support, even though this could be difficult. If you recognize defiance, or a lack of esteem, try to encourage your child through focusing on their strengths, I often encourage parents to learn about their child's "love language." These are ways that children, teens, and adults all have their emotional needs met. I will send you a link that you can actually learn more about this and complete the profile to know more of what affirms your child and meets their needs. Another good article from psychologytoday.com discusses the good news about children of a single parent home. I will send you that article also. You should just be able to click on the link as a resource
As far as dealing with a shy child, you just have to consider if it is hampering them making friends, completing school work, affecting their social skills, or exploring new activities. Shyness isn't always a bad thing, in fact, they may just be introverted. If you feel that it is related to their self esteem, then you may want to explore the areas of self-doubt and if they fear rejection. I would ask if they have feelings of self doubt or fears of rejection based on the lack of the additional parent, but then process with them the exceptions to this problem and point out the support that they have available. I like this statement from an article, "
Decide on a project, a hobby, or an activity that is likely to involve other teenagers, preferably from outside their own school district, and present them with the opportunity to join in. Clubs, youth groups, and other organizations are a wonderful resource for these types of activities. By presenting them with the opportunity, you are sending them the message that you believe they will fit in, you believe they have something to contribute, and that you believe they will enjoy themselves and have some fun. They may not jump all over it like a puppy on hamburger, but they are likely to at least give it a try. All kids want to make friends and feel good about themselves.
Starting a few new routines at home can also help to draw out a shy teenager. Encourage them to be more vocal in family settings. Ask them questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Inviting them to share their views can help them overcome the notion that they are not supposed to speak up or that they are not as important or smart as those around them. Shyness can be overcome, but only in settings that seem safe enough in the beginning. By providing those settings, you may be amazed at how quickly your shy little one turns into the chatterbox of the party." (resource: http://www.professorshouse.com/shyness-in-teenagers/)
I really like the tips in this last article. I will list them, but please take a peek at the article also. It is written for a female teen, but is applicable for either gender.
- Build her self-worth. Realizing that she has your confidence and trust -- or even your admiration - will pump her ego up. Make sure she occasionally overhears you saying nice things about her personality, achievements, and activities to family members and friends.
- Don't compare personalities. Accept that each member of a family has a slightly different temperament and her own way of dealing with the world. One child may be extremely social and another may be just as happy to have one or two close friends and spend more time at home.
- Practice social skills. If your child is having trouble making friends and wouldn't mind some help, coach her on how to ask for and listen to other people's opinions. Talk about the social situations that worry her most, and brainstorm ways she might make herself feel more comfortable. Don't, however, turn into your child's social director. Your interference will only signal that you lack faith in her.
- Don't urge your child to change. Admonishments such as "Don't be shy" or "try to be more popular" aren't going to do your child any good or be well received, since she'll hear them as criticisms and can alter her behavior only so much. Remember, as much as you might wish it for your child, being popular is not a goal you want to dangle in front of her. If your child chooses to do things on her own, don't make her feel inadequate. Many a loner has grown up to be a brilliant inventor or talented writer. Some children aren't even lonely when they're alone. They may be shy, but they still like themselves.
- Praise your child's strengths. A shy teen may not be comfortable enough to run for student council, but she might win a prize in the school science contest or be an excellent artist.
Here is the link for the "love languages" quiz also! http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
I hope that this has been helpful. Please et me know what you think! Best wishes, Jules