Q: My 11-year-old is fairly shy. He loves to do “boy” things, such as play hockey, soccer and hang out, but he resists invitations to dance parties at our local YMCA. I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with these parties myself, but I wonder if they’d be good for him socially and possibly help him overcome his shyness. Are kids emotionally equipped to handle this kind of socializing at 11?
A: Fortunately, your son is not so shy that he avoids activities, such as team sports, where he gets to develop friendships. It’s not unusual for an 11-year-old boy to find the idea of going to a dance intimidating, or even downright boring. You’ll likely find his interest in this kind of social event increases in a year or two. In the meantime, help your son feel more comfortable in social situations by suggesting he go with a good friend. Try not to label him as shy because it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Encourage him to engage in activities that will help promote his self-esteem and continue to develop his social skills.