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.
Are your kids introverts or extroverts?