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readtolive's avatar

My teenager has told me he doesn't like talking to people he doesn't know.. any suggestions to help him?

Asked by readtolive (89points) August 12th, 2008

I have always known my son was shy…. but now that he is an older teen, I am beginning to see how it is handicapping him in situations. He will not ask people questions or make phone calls. Help!

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14 Answers

trumi's avatar

Don’t worry, that is very common. The number one cure is going to be college, where he’ll get a fresh start and will be out of his comfort zone. In the meantime, just encourage him to get out more and and not to worry about what people will think of him. Also, don’t make the phone call for him if he doesn’t want to make it, and so on. Independence will teach him that he has to be assertive.

I think the number one cause of teenage introversion is self esteem related. Simply continue to encourage him and he will sort it out himself. Also, remember that there are a lot worse things a young man can be than introverted. If that happens to be his style of life, you may just have to embrace him for it.

Hope it works out okay!

Skyrail's avatar

I’m the same as your son. So he’s not alone. I hate phoning people or answering the phone and it can be quite awkward for me to talk to people I don’t know. Once I do though it’s not so bad. It’s just a hurdle I’ll have to over come myself sometime :)

flameboi's avatar

My gf was very (very!) shy when I met her, I started going out with her to the places I love, with my friends, it was hard for her at first she doen’t like extremely fancy places at all but she got used to it, I failed to take her to the country club, but that was the hardest one… I’m sure he will get used to it, he needs to realize that social abilities are so important in life to succeed… Sell him that idea, that success comes along with a big responsibility with you community and your significant others… If he has a different approach to it, is going to be easier :)

augustlan's avatar

My oldest daughter (14) is exactly like that with the phone…she’s getting better, but I have no advice to give. Time and circumstance seem to be the teachers here, not me!

bodyhead's avatar

He’ll get by even if he never grows out of it. I guess it was about 11 or 12 years ago when I started having this same problem. The internet is a great place to get information where you don’t have to actually talk to anyone.

Make sure you don’t coddle him. Don’t take care of stuff for him by calling or asking someone when he won’t. It’s better to deal with it now. My parents let me get by without talking to many people it made it much worse for me later.

Another thing that might help is a part time job in a service industry. I may not be like a normal person but what I gained working in a restaurant for many years allows me to fake it when I need to. I would rather my kid work in a store or something like that. There’s far too many drugs in restaurant kitchens.

The only thing that will make him jump this life hurdle will be if he wants something so badly that he will have to talk to someone or phone someone he doesn’t know to get it.

If he likes video games, give him enough money to pre-order one or something like that. Just make him do all the legwork.

Lightlyseared's avatar

If he’s old enough a job might encorage him to comunicate with others. It helped me (and still does).

ninjaxmarc's avatar

Let him start being a little independent to get him out of his shell. My brother was the same way. We had to force him to get his drivers license at 18. Driving him all over the place got tiresome. Then it all went uphill (depending on how you look at it downhill) never home, always out, etc.

Randy's avatar

I was and to an extent, still am like that. Once he gets out on his own, or gets put in situations where he can’t be shy, then he’ll start opening up, more than likely.

kaha's avatar

perhaps chat rooms, i use to feel more comfortable approaching strangers/people online rather than in person but i have no problem with talking to people. maybe he is just shy, he will find his own way to solve this problem :)

Actually a job really does work, i work as a waitress (summer job) it forces you to speak to people (staff and customers)

LKidKyle1985's avatar

yep, I was gonna say have him work somewhere he has to work with people, The little bit of shyness I had went away when I started working at circuit city as a sales associate.

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

I’m like that myself. I have trouble talking on the phone/to new people. However, because it has affected my life in such a negative way, I have learned to get around it when need be. How? Deliberate practice. For example, I often call in the pizza order or go into the convenience store to buy a snacks for my family, attempting to make small talk with the cashier while waiting for everything to be rung up. This helps me get experience in talking to people that I don’t know, thus helping me in the greater scheme. I’ve improved quite a bit since I first tried this technique.

I hope that your son learns to get around this barrier. =)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Is he shy or introverted? Both? I’m actually both. When I was younger (very young) I started out as being extremely shy. The older I got, however, I also became more introverted just because it’s my dominant personality trait. Very hard to deal with growing up because I never felt normal. Still don’t, but I love myself now because I am different.

Working definitely helps with the shyness factor, though. I hated it when I started my first job, because I was so shy I couldn’t talk to anyone. And I felt like an idiot whenever I did cash transactions with customers. I had a fear that I was too slow, would give them the wrong change, or simply forget something. But, the more I did it, the easier it got. It forces you to be a little less socially awkward, because you kinda don’t want to get fired. It’d be humiliating. And humiliation is exactly what shy people try to avoid.

I do suggest letting him pick where he works though, as long as it’s a job that requires him to deal with people in one way or another. I say let him choose because if he is introverted or generally anti-social, it could be for a number of reasons. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Trying to force an introverted person to be extroverted is actually flat-out wrong. No one would ever ask someone extroverted to turn into an introvert – and that’s good. People are different and that’s all there is to it.

Besides, if he is introverted, working will give him the chance to get to know people he actually feels are worthwhile, other than having to conform and be like everyone else, and just being friends with the first person that comes along.

pinky134's avatar

Don’t push it. It’s just part of being a teenager. When I was eighteen you couldn’t have paid me enough to even call the telephone operator. I didn’t ask for directions and actually stopped shopping because there were too many people. But now, at the slightly more hormonally balanced age of 21, I’m fine with strangers. I might even say that I like them… :)

SilverFang77's avatar

I’m 31 and have the same problem. Tell him not to worry about it too much. In this day and age of the Internet and cell phones, there’s no need to talk when you can text message and email.

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