Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Smarty and I share many of the same traits when it comes to social interactions. Neither of us is particularly shy, but we feel awkward in the situations when we are "new kids" in a group of people who already know each other. Just like me, Smarty prefers 1:1 interactions and gets tired quickly in noisy environments with too much sensory input (I've been known to fall asleep during rock concerts). A grade skip from 4th to 6th was hard on her socially - she spent most of her 6th grade sitting alone at the lunch table and spent most of the recess reading. She got somewhat more comfortable in 7th grade, but she still struggled, especially when dealing with girls.
This same pattern manifested itself again in the transition to a new school. Smarty spent the first couple of weeks sitting by herself at lunch and missing her boy friends from her old school (she never mentioned that she misses any girls). She admitted that she does not want to spend a year sitting by herself, so we started brainstorming solutions. Smarty agreed to try several different approaches that all involved asking people to sit with them and showing some interest in their conversations. It looks like she is making some headway there, since she is now sitting either with a bigger group of middle school boys or with a big group of girls of different ages that all eat lunch together.
I found it encouraging that Smarty joined a "lunch club" in school - the girls who want to organize a Girl Up charter in their school. Girl Up is a global leadership development initiative by UN, positioning girls to be leaders in the movement for gender equality. The girls decided that their first project will be a coffee fundraiser. Smarty volunteered to create posters and advertise this event, and I think that she did a pretty good job after iterating a couple of times based on our feedback. She is super excited about this club and is looking forward to doing more projects and events with the group of girls that signed up for it. I am glad to see that she is reaching out and looking for ways to make a difference while she is also connecting more to other girls in her school. It's good to see Smarty overcoming her social anxiety when she sees a project that interests her. This is how it always worked for me as well - I can feel very uncomfortable and deathly bored at the street party, but I have no problems talking to people while organizing math club in school or at work. I hope that she will have a lot of opportunities to work with other engaged kids this year and will change her unfavorable opinion of collaboration and group work that was triggered by some pretty unfortunate experiences. Then she will enter high school in a better frame of mind towards engaging with others. We will continue to encourage and recognize her social efforts the same way we encourage her academic efforts.

Your Turn

Are your kids introverts or extroverts?


Min Erva said...

Sounds like she's stepping out of her comfort zone and taking healthy risks!

MaryAnne K. said...

My kids range from extremely introverted to ambiverts. DH is pretty extroverted, but I guess my introvert leaning ambivert genes won out (and, in fairness, his mom is one of the most introverted people I know, so it's in his gene pool too!)

Ticia said...

Hmmmm, that really seems to depend on the situation, but my kids in general don't really like big crowds. They seem to of followed after Jeff and I with being somewhat introverted.