The world is a flurry of complicated issues and problems. We encourage young people to get involved in current events and speak their mind.
However, we sometimes forget that teenagers live in their own world of problems by just being … teenagers.
And so, when we write about seemingly small, personal issues rather than "breaking news!" headlines in which all of us should be interested, it's because issues that get teens all tied up in knots are not trivial at all.
Turn off that spotlight!
Take shyness, for example.
Dad, your son or daughter is painfully shy. He sits near the back at school. She never raises her hand. He would never volunteer to do anything that would place him in the dreaded spotlight. She has no friends, perhaps because she chooses to withdraw into her cocoon.
Lots of people are shy to some degree. Some are so shy that they get sick if they have to speak in front of a group.
In school, some kids run to their next class just to avoid walking in late and becoming a momentary center of attention. Then once in their seat, they slump far enough down so that, hopefully, the teacher won't call on them.
Of course, that calls even more attention to them and is a surefire way to be recognized.
A person of mystery
Dad, you can help. Tell your child to accept his shyness.
"Son, if you remain silent, people will think there's a lot of heavy stuff going on in your head." An aura of mystery surrounds shy people. So, you draw attention because of your shyness. But you leave people wondering. "She's so shy. What's she up to?"
Attack shyness. Dad, lead the charge by helping your teenager form a plan. Teens can control shyness by getting involved in an activity that will help them open up around others. You can help.
In his new book, A Grateful American, actor Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan in the film, Forrest Gump) said he was so shy in high school that almost everyone thought he was just dumb. Then he saw the musical West Side Story, and he fell in love with acting. He opened up and let the world in.
Serve others … increase your visibility
If jumping into performing is too radical, urge your son or daughter to wade in slowly. Volunteer to help in your church nursery, or give some time to the local senior center. Serving others is a good way to increase visibility. And if you do a good job, people will notice and thank you. Voila! You will have begun a conversation with a new friend.
Dad, help your teen to use her shyness to her advantage. If you're not talking all the time, that probably means you're a good listener.
Heaven knows, we all need to listen more. Sharpen your listening skill. Tune in to others and what's going on around you. You will be considered a library of information.