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Finding social outlets for shy kids


MaeFlowers
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I dont know if this is the right area to put this but I need some ideas.

 

Ds and dd could both use some social outlets. Ds does have a few friends and dd has one friend (a neighbor). Both love being around kids their own age but they are shy and have trouble turning acquaintaces into friendships.

 

Last year, we moved into a neighborhood with the hope that they would make more friends. Dd plays with a little boy up the street most days but she wants to go to school so she can have more friends. (She's my more social one.) Ds hasn't met anyone close to his age.

 

Ive looked into co-ops but they are not a good fit. I've been looking at homeschool academies but most are for my ds' age but not my dd's age. There are tons of classical conversations groups around me but I am not willing to do Challenge level. I could put dd in CC one day a week and then put ds in an academy another day a week. I may have to do this but I'm not really liking the logistics.

 

I'm also looking into putting dd in GS next year. I am not sure if there is a group near me but I am wiling to start one.

 

Right now, ds is involved with a rec basketball league and a church group. Neither allow much if any socialization so they are hard for him being shy. He was in BS for a few years but it didn't stick.

 

I need to find things where the kids have more oppprtunity to mingle and not just show up/do activity/go home. Any ideas? Advice?

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We've found it important to find a group or activity that we can stick with for the long haul. Rec leagues of sports are too short to provide much social activity unless the same groups of kids are in multiple sports (which we have been able to find for some kids over the years).

 

I'm thinking that 4-H, Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts might work if you make it a commitment, not just a one year idea.

 

We've found our kid's social outlet at a small Christian School that allows homeschoolers to participate in sports. We've been there for a long time now and all of our kids have friendships that have developed over the years and extend beyond sports but it took a long time! Especially for my shyer kids.

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We've found it important to find a group or activity that we can stick with for the long haul. Rec leagues of sports are too short to provide much social activity unless the same groups of kids are in multiple sports (which we have been able to find for some kids over the years).

 

I'm thinking that 4-H, Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts might work if you make it a commitment, not just a one year idea.

 

We've found our kid's social outlet at a small Christian School that allows homeschoolers to participate in sports. We've been there for a long time now and all of our kids have friendships that have developed over the years and extend beyond sports but it took a long time! Especially for my shyer kids.

I wish we could find a school like that. There are some but they are so far away. I could get to the next state over quicker and more easily!

 

I really don't know anything about 4-H. I'll have to look into it. And maybe revisit scouts for ds. The first time was such a mess. For dd, I was planning on more than one year. I didn't mean to give the impression that it would be short term.

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Activities have only led to friendships around here if I invited kids over often.

I have tried to encourage ds to do this. I think it is hard because he doesn't have an opportunity to talk to them in the activity. He wants to get to know them a little better and he doesn't feel comfortable asking.

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I have tried to encourage ds to do this. I think it is hard because he doesn't have an opportunity to talk to them in the activity. He wants to get to know them a little better and he doesn't feel comfortable asking.

I don’t know how old your ds is, but when my ds was younger, when he met a kid he liked, I found it was more effective for me to get to know the mom so I could invite her and the kid to go out for pizza after a homeschool activity, or to make arrangements to get the kids together on a different day.

 

My ds has always been outgoing, but I figured that the mom had to be onboard with the idea, anyway, so it was easier to speak with her myself until the kids got to know each other better.

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Activities have only led to friendships around here if I invited kids over often.

 

This has been my experience as well. 

 

I've found that past a certain age, this is a very tricky thing to accomplish. I'm grateful that I sort of accidentally managed to do it when my kids were little, and those friendships have stuck. I started my own weekly playgroup when DD15 was young, and we joined a weekly co-op when DD12 was little, and we kept on with those two things for a long time. 

 

For middle school ages, I found that offering a resource that I was willing to host/teach was key. I hosted a bi-weekly book/movie club at our house for a year, and I'm considering teaching a literature group to strengthen the ties around my DD12's friend group at the moment. But yeah, it has always seemed to be something where I was in the driver's seat in order to make the friend bonds happen. The groups couldn't be too large, either, or else it would still feel too impersonal. And there seems to have to be some mandatory activity that forces them to be together, followed by some social time. 

 

MaeFlowers, how old are your kids? Maybe that would help us make some suggestions? 

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I thoughg their ages were in my signature. I'm always on my phone.

 

Ds is 13 and DD is 5.

 

I think it has been hard because I am also shy. I have a hard time putting myself out there, too.

 

I have talked to them today about the pros and cons of different options. Both seems interested in Scouts so I am going to look into joining those.

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I thoughg their ages were in my signature. I'm always on my phone.

 

Ds is 13 and DD is 5.

 

I think it has been hard because I am also shy. I have a hard time putting myself out there, too.

 

I have talked to them today about the pros and cons of different options. Both seems interested in Scouts so I am going to look into joining those.

 

That is hard-- you being shy too.  Social things are definitely harder around here when I am in a season of not wanting to put myself out.  Even thought I would prefer to be in my house reading a book, I realized I need to push myself, get out there and invite folks over more than I want.  If there are other homeschooled teens, I'd recommend starting a weekly game party at your house (or seeing if it can rotate). Do you have a yahoo group you could put that out on? 

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That is hard-- you being shy too. Social things are definitely harder around here when I am in a season of not wanting to put myself out. Even thought I would prefer to be in my house reading a book, I realized I need to push myself, get out there and invite folks over more than I want. If there are other homeschooled teens, I'd recommend starting a weekly game party at your house (or seeing if it can rotate). Do you have a yahoo group you could put that out on?

We try to have ds friends over whenever we can. They are all in ps and sports and church, etc. He used to see them more but it seems to be getting harder as they get older.

 

I don't know of any yahoo groups. I've never really belonged to any?

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We try to have ds friends over whenever we can. They are all in ps and sports and church, etc. He used to see them more but it seems to be getting harder as they get older.

 

I don't know of any yahoo groups. I've never really belonged to any?

 

I was more talking about a local homeschool group.  I just phrased it wrong.  Sometimes these post events on facebook.  Our area has yahoo posting groups and a facebook one.

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I think that it is the routine, same group, same kids that builds a shy kid's confidence to interact.  And it is making them go and take part even if they don't want to.  I have a kid who never wanted to, but if I made her again and again and again she'd eventually grow to like it.  I couldn't let her be the guide or she'd choose the hermit life again and again.  It has taken years of making her before she has finally gotten over it and now chooses it on her own.  

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When my kids were younger the absolutely best thing we did was set up a weekly play group and met with a small number of families for park time or play time at various houses, indoor playgrounds, etc.  That led to closer friendships getting together with the same group of kids every week.  It was good for me as a mom too to have that group of moms to bond with.  I miss it now that my kids are teens.  Sometimes in the homeschool world I've found if you want something to exist, you need to create it.

 

Other than that, my kids have had friendships over the years through theater, dance, music, co-op, etc. 

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The things that have led to the best relationships for my kids are things where they are working on some kind of shared project together in a group. Having the project or planned activity helped give the group focus and also led to commitment in terms of getting together. It also seems to be best if it’s something that is year-long rather than seasonal. 

 

Odyssey of the Mind was fabulous for my boys. We did it for several years with the same team and it gave them a once a week meeting time. They also had free time with that so had time to just hang out. 

 

Scouts has also served the same purpose, to some degree. It’s been really good for my oldest. Partially that is because some of the same kids from our OM team and co-op are in the Scout troop so he already had those relationships and then adding Scouts in just gave them extra time together. My middle son enjoys Scouts but it’s been harder for him to form relationships with kids his own age there. He does hang out with his brothers’ friends and is slowly forming a few other friendships. 

 

At our co-op, the kids involved in drama and speech seem to bond in the same way. They are working on something together and then have fun while they do it. 

 

I ended up starting a book club for my daughter because she needed more social time with her friends. That has also been really great. 

 

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I agree with Alice.  If you start something at your house, build in hang out time afterwards.  It's not a new family--but today, after a shared history discussion/book club/ writing class at my house, my friend took the older kids to a service project and the younger kids hung out at my house for 3 hours playing cards, playing outside. Now, that's a bit long for kids who haven't grown up together, but it is important to have unstructured time.  So, start a book club, but make sure there is time to eat a fun snack afterwards and then, if things start clicking, you could suggest a longer hang out time to play board games or something.

 

eta: I've relaxed my gaming rules/hour restrictions at times when ds really needed more friend time and that was the most attractive option (gaming in the same room with someone, not gaming together virtually)>

Edited by freesia
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I wouldn't mind starting something at my house...I just don't know where to start. We actually don't know any other homeschoolers anymore. Dh and I aren't the most social people and those we do know tend to have young kids...and all boys. I don't know how to find other kids to invite.

 

Dd might do well with drama/theatre style clubs. She loves to be the center of attention. Ds would hate it.

 

I'm feeling pretty socially inadequate at this point. I'm pretty much a lone wolf but I know my dc need more. That's why I'm seeking everyone's advice.

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Oh, okay.  Could you figure out if there are any homeschool groups in your area.  Look on facebook with your city name and homeschooler or county name and homeschooler.  Google those two combinations, too.  Then contact any contact e-mail, phone number that comes up.  Most areas have some sort of a group. 

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Honestly, I would focus first on your son. 13 is much harder than 5 for figuring out friendships. I agree that boy scouts or 4-H would be good. The homeschool academy you mentioned would probably be a good place to meet other homeschoolers his age. You mentioned he does have some friends, so also work on keeping up those friendships. Maybe another boy wants to do scouts or something with him? Or just invite them for pizza, video games, movie nights, game nights, etc. If they are public schoolers check out their yearly school calendar online and try to meet up during their scheduled breaks. One of my kids good friends is public schooled and we just saw him on MLK day and we will see him again on a teachers workday next week.

 

For your daughter I would look at local homeschool groups on Facebook. Find a group that does a park day a few times a month and go to those. Maybe sign up for a field trip or two as well. This age is pretty easy. Library story hours sometimes have older homeschoolers (5-6 year olds) that show up with the preschool set.

 

I am introverted and both my kids are very extroverted. I really had to put myself out there and meet lots of people when they were young. It was very uncomfortable for me but I am glad I did it. We met a lot of great families and some of my kids best friends that way. If I had stayed home (as was my preference) instead of heading to the park or the field trip, my kids would be so lonely right now and I doubt homeschooling would still work for us.

 

Make the effort now and it will be worth it later.

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming
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I wouldn't mind starting something at my house...I just don't know where to start. We actually don't know any other homeschoolers anymore. Dh and I aren't the most social people and those we do know tend to have young kids...and all boys. I don't know how to find other kids to invite.

 

Dd might do well with drama/theatre style clubs. She loves to be the center of attention. Ds would hate it.

 

I'm feeling pretty socially inadequate at this point. I'm pretty much a lone wolf but I know my dc need more. That's why I'm seeking everyone's advice.

 

I would start on Facebook, because that's the most common platform for homeschool groups. Search "my city homeschooling" "my county homeschooling" and any nearby cities. 

 

If a group or two pops up, awesome. Even if they don't have at on of teen activities, it gives you a base to work with, and you can start planning activities. If you can friend a mom or two on FB with teens, that will improve your chances of them actually showing up  :laugh:

 

Here are a few things that we have done teen-wise: 

 

*coffee shop - teens meet at a local coffee shop, simple enough! We have two great shops that are willing to set aside space and let them stay for hours. Have a stack of board games for an ice breaker. 

 

*park day - at a bigger city park with a cooler vibe than local parks  :coolgleamA: that has lots of space for walking and the requisite coffee shop and cafe; the negative with this one is that people think nothing of canceling or just not deciding until the last minute. But, you're still at a nice park. 

 

*teen night - I did a monthly teen social night at my house for, um, about six or seven years. It gave my kids that kind of 'big group' fun they didn't get much of elsewhere. I charged $5 and later $7 for food, drinks, snacks and desserts. I highly recommend charging and not doing pot lock, because people WILL flake out on you, and you WILL have umpteen bags of chips. We would do a more elaborate themed party at the end of the year. I won't lie, this was a lot of work, but also lots of fabulous memories. 

 

If you homeschool, most of the time you are going to have to put yourself out there. And drive, dear lord do you have to drive. The most important key to success is consistency; you have to show up at that coffee shop every week at the same time. It can take a long time to build a core group, so you can't do a few weeks and quit because only a few people come. The first coffee shop I arranged, nobody came. But then it turned into a fun event we did for about a year. 

 

You could also build on youth group and basketball team. They aren't inherently social, but why not suggest the team go to the trampoline park or lazer tag on a certain night? Youth group should be even easier, because you can go through the youth leader and suggest an activity (volunteering to do all of the leg work for it, of course). 

 

I would also make a deliberate effort to get ds together with the friends he does have more often, and to make a 'thing' of it sometimes. Like a trip to the trampoline park, pizza night, whatever. Just that added bit of fun. It's likely that his friends have other friends, and the more time he spends with them, the more likely it is that he will meet more people. 

 

One more thought: check and see if there are any teen summer camps or programs available. Our area has been adding more of these (just as my kids age out, naturally). It may not lead to lasting friendships (although it certainly might), but it's a social situation and gets him out of the house. 

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Facebook was everything for us, even when things weren't so great.  I actually started with a local Yahoo group before we moved to the area, and most people eventually transitioned to FB, where it got a lot bigger.

 

The main group for our area has over 650 members, and there are more specific splinter groups from there.  There's NEVER a lack of events/opportunities/activities. And, because we're so many, there's always something to suit just about everyone, and the people suited to each other tend to find themselves in the same places on a regular basis.

 

If your town/city group options are on the small side, try searching county/region or even state.   My teenagers have built really close friendships regardless of physical distances, thank you technology.  And, because of our area, we just accept driving as a way of life.  But many families we know happily cross regions for all of the great things and people that are available.  (Those 650 members aren't all local residents.)

 

I also happen to be a fan of co-opping, even when they can be less than perfect.  In the one I co-direct, I've seen a LOT of shy kids (and parents!) transform within weeks. That's not to say that every co-op is right for every family, but I do think they're worth taking a serious look at and weighing pros and cons.  I won't call myself shy, but I'm definitely a real introvert, so co-ops do push me out of my comfort zone.   The local, IRL connection has been a very good thing for me.

 

All that said, even the people who don't go out and participate much in local activities have found a good deal of support just from being in the FB groups.

 

 

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I thoughg their ages were in my signature. I'm always on my phone.

 

Ds is 13 and DD is 5.

 

I think it has been hard because I am also shy. I have a hard time putting myself out there, too.

 

I have talked to them today about the pros and cons of different options. Both seems interested in Scouts so I am going to look into joining those.

I completely understand. I have been the same way. I have forced myself to talk to other parents when I don't want to, and to invite them over. Most people are happy to make new friends and have the same anxieties you do, I have found. People love to be invited.

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Thank you for all the ideas. I didn't mean to disappear this afternoon. I need to talk to DH and do some brainstorming. And maybe join facebook.

If you are worried about privacy stuff just use your first name or something so that local people can identify you but random people can't. Or your high school classmates ;)

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I have a big age gap like that between my first two (6 years) and I'm also very shy. Anyway, I was running into the same problems that you are.

 

When oldest was 13 yo I ended up putting him in year round swimming. It really did the trick for us.  He was in the same activity, with the same kids, every day. He ended up with friends, I ended up with friends, my younger children ended up with friends.  Thirteen years later we still have some of these friends, even though we're all in different states and even countries.

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Sorry I didn't come back sooner. I've felt crummy today with a cold.

 

Dh and I talked about academies but the expense has kind of put us off. We could do more with the money. We are going to get ds back in scouts and see about Daisies for dd. We will probably wait for the school year to start for that.

 

I also signed up with FB. I found so many homeschool groups! I think there were 5 just in my county. I want to finish getting my FB set-up and join a couple. We can start going to some park days and things soon.

 

Ds will continue with rec sports and trying to find time to hang out with his old friends, too.

 

I think it is a good base. I'm excited. I also want to say that I really appreciate all the encouragment. You all are awesome. 😊

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I'm admin for a FB group and people ask all the time about social outlets for their kids. Our policy is that anyone can post events. I suggest that people do something casual like I'm going to the park Friday from 1-4 or whatever. People will come. If they don't the first time, try again. I'm amazed by how reluctant people are to do this though. :).

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