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On Parenting
Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 08/31/2012

Family Almanac’s Marguerite Kelly: How to help an introverted 13-year-old boy

From elsewhere in The Post: A mother worries that her very pleasant 13-year-old son might be too introverted and asks Marguerite Kelly for advice.

(Hadley Hooper for The Washington Post)
“Most of his friends are on the same competitive sports team that he is on — they’re all very good for their age — and many of them hang out with one another, but my son doesn’t spend any time with them and wouldn’t go to a sleep-away sports camp with them, perhaps because we forced him to go there last year and he had a miserable time. He also wouldn’t go with us to the community pool this summer — not even once! — and he has turned down pool invitations from other people, too.

“Should I be concerned? Is there anything I can do? Or should do?”

Kelly says that because the boy is smart, athletic, confident and willing to help out with housework, the mother’s anxiety may be misplaced and the boy might just be a little shy.

“Your son might be avoiding parties, sports camp and the neighborhood pool because he’s not as tall or as hairy as the other boys, or his voice isn’t as low, for children grow at such different rates of speed between 12 and 16, and these differences can be embarrassing,” Kelly says.

“If that’s not the case, your son might simply be shy. Being on a team should help him get over this problem, because every play will give him something to talk about, and so will an improv class, a role in a school play or getting on the debate team at school. A shy child often comes out of his shell when he goes onstage because he’s walking in someone else’s shoes.”

Read Kelly’s full column here. Read a transcript of Kelly’s most recent online chat here.

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By On Parenting  |  11:31 AM ET, 08/31/2012

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