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Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe

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Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe


Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe

My 16yo son is a sweet, kind, sensitive soul but is shy and struggles with being visible and included.
He has a small group of friends but hardly ever sees them outside school, though they do talk online (or he follows what they’re saying/doing). I keep trying to fill in the gaps but that’s not always helpful for a 16yo.
Most of the time he seems fine - he plays a lot of basketball which keeps him busy, even if he hasn’t built solid friendships - but things he says make me worry that he’s feeling socially isolated. When I’ve seen him in social situations, I ache for how ill at ease he is.
I’m pretty sure that he’s not depressed but I do feel like this quiet exclusion is eating away at him.
Any tips on how I can talk with him, without him feeling self conscious or shamed?
Prolific scribe

Re: Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe

Hi @TigersEye,


When I was a young guy I was shy too. When I was at uni I did earth science, and had to do lots of field trips away with the other students. Some of these were a week or more long. We were always put into teams and forced to work together.


I think I learned a lot from those experiences (not just about rocks 'n stuff). It was different from a school camp (which at my school seemed to be full of airy-fairy personal development stuff). Maybe because we were there for a reason. Also, many of us didn't have any close friends in the group.


So, maybe an organised trip, or the Duke of Ed program, or volunteering for something? Something that throws him in with a bunch of similar aged kids in a residential environment. A challenge is good too, because it makes the kids grow a lot.


Star contributor

Re: Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe

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Hey there @TigersEye sounds like you have so much love and care for your son - such a beautiful thing to see. I am sure he senses that. Could you engage him in something he really loves doing? Maybe take him to a basketball game and gently open up the conversation to some questions at dinner before or after?


How can I help you with this? Are you okay with your peers? It is a hard one because I know some adolescent's don't mind just sticking to their own. My younger brother didn't come out of his shell until he was 18, some even longer. You sound like you're really tuned in though which is awesome. We have a free service for Australian Residents, ReachOut parents coaching, which can also be helpful with these sorts of issues Smiley Happy



Prolific scribe

Re: Shy 16-year-old always on the fringe

Firstly, there are different types of people..quiet introverted types and then theres more sociable extroverted types. Its important to respect them for the personality they have and to support them. As an introvert myself, I found it especially hard to fit in mainly because all that social time was just exhausting for me. I would try so hard and wondered why I just didnt enjoy it. Its because I was being forced to fit into a mould not cut for me. Id say your son is the same. If you let him just be, he will be fine. He may feel awkward because deep down he knows hes never going to be extroverted and cant wait to get home and recharge alone! Extroverts or more sociable people always seem to feel sorry for us introverts but we are quite happy if left alone to be ourselves and in fact, its the constant nagging to change and get out mpre that makes us feel something is wrong with us and that we need to act in a way we arent comfortable with. He will be fine.. ❤❤