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Artistic/Social Outlet for an Awkward 13 Year Old?

1277 Views 10 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  lorijds
Okay, my DD is 4, so I'm completely out of the loop....

Here's the backstory:
My niece Haley is a very young 13 years old. Recently, she's been having some trouble because her sister (15 months older, but more mature) has hit high school, got a boyfriend and grown up a lot (a whole other topic
and Haley's been left behind. To be blunt, she's socially awkward and has very few friends. She basically begs for attention, which makes things worse. So, the other day I was looking at her Facebook page and she'd posted a bunch of sullen, gray-skied, intense-looking self portraits. I was clicking through the album and started noticing that the same 3 girls had commented on every picture with really snarky, insulting comments. Worse, Haley responded with "yeah...I know...but....", she was taking it!!!
: I usually hang back with my opinions because her mother and I have VERY different approaches to parenting (and everything else), but this time I emailed her and said "Look, these girls are not your friends. You don't need to take this. etc". I also emailed her mom, just letting her know. SIL actually emailed me back thanking me and asking that I talk to Haley a bit more because she really values my opinion. Best of all, Haley deleted those girls from her friend list.

So, the point of this.....

They live in a very small town and the school is pretty small. I remember being there and not realizing that there was a WHOLE WIDE WORLD out there. I took a lot of crap from people who seemed SO COOL at the time.

I'd really like to expand Haley's horizons. She's very thoughtful and artistic and loves writing songs and poetry (you know, all the stuff that we know is cool, but makes for a weird kid
). She's REALLY into those Twilight books that everyone is reading now. I was thinking that it would be great if I could find some sort of message board of kids who share similar interests. I know that internet security and personal safety are issues for a 13 year old, but I'd love to find a place where she could virtually meet some new friends. You know, find her Bee People (to throw in a Blind Melon reference
). I'm not looking for social networking for her to stay in touch with people she already knows. I want her to be able to meet new people.


(It should be said, I have her mom's full support. She asked me for suggestions because she had no idea....)
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omg, I so wish I'd had an auntie like you! what a rockstar you are!

there must be Twilight fan fic websites galore; she could meet people w/ similar interests and exercise her creative writing at the same time
Here's the link to Stephenie Meyer's site (the author) with a page w/tons upon tons of links to Twilight fan sites. I didn't check them out but surely there's at least 1, likely more, with a message board. Also, what about local community theatre? Those kids typically tend to be a more artsy and open crowd. If there's not local community theatre, maybe a local art museum that offers classes?
Oh also, if she's headed to highschool next year I would suggest to her for her electives to try to take an arts class of some sort, again, kids with similar interests.
My 15 yo dd is still like this. What I found helped is a parent/teen pottery class (because not enough signed up for the regular pottery class), but we had a great time. She was able to meet other kids that weren't necessarily from her school that shared her interests.
Does she like horses? Get her into horseback riding. Builds skills, strength and confidence.... and it is outside!

I'm wondering about a local theater group? If she is clamouring for attention, this might be a good way to get it. Or -- if she's not an on-stage type, she could do work as a stage hand.
I was the same at that age! The in thing back then was Robert Jordan's series, and I ended up on a fanfic site. It was brilliant for my writing skills, social skills and I ended up in a mostly supportive group so it was a definite ego boost. A word of warning - it was also a fantastic place for older men to troll, a trap I fell into, and I was a relatively sensible teen. Please make sure she's monitored.

I also took a couple of dance classes, which made me more comfortable with my body. Nothing like staring into a mirror for an hour looking to see if your body is making that movement correctly to desensitise you to how you look in a mirror! Something with a positive framework like yoga or martial arts? My yoga class has a 13 y.o. in it who has really come out of her shell over the last couple of months. That sort of activity will often have a kind, young adult or older teen, which (again with supervision!) can be a positive influence. When the yoga girl first came she barely said boo, but she's learnt how to have a polite conversation with a stranger and is starting to talk about her life to the regulars.
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I think a local theatre would be a great experience for her. We live in a small town as well, my daughter has been involved with several theatre groups a liitle outside our local community. It has given her a different set of friends and much more confidence in herself. If not theatre I think any outside activites that may connect her with outhers that may be in different schools but have the same interest as her would really help!
I've started going dancing with my ds1. He is almost 16 and is in a big rut socially so I looked up what we could do one weekend and up popped a ceilidh. If you don't know what that is it is like a barn dance led by a caller where people dance in pairs or groups of 6 or squares to traditional folk music. You don't have to be an expert at all to dance, you just need a bit of rhythm!

We go at least once a month and dance ourselves silly to the point of 2 days of achiness! The folk scene here locally is very busy and we have met people young and old as well as had a good laugh.

Perhaps there is something similar near your niece?

Originally Posted by Trinitty View Post
Does she like horses? Get her into horseback riding. Builds skills, strength and confidence.... and it is outside!

I was thinking the same thing.
I can't count how many young girls like this I know of (including one of my own) who have absolutely flourished when getting involved with horses! There's also a "barn culture" that often goes along with it that I am really thankful for. These girls hang out together at the barn and listen to the country station and groom and ride and muck stalls. When most girls her age are at the mall and fretting over their appearance these girls are at the barn, or outside in the fresh air, covered in mud and working hard. Plus there's the relationships they develop w/ the animals that provides so much.

Just a thought.
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Is her dad in the picture? I think a wonderful self confidence building activity is taking a class with dad. Be it an art class, music lessons, dance class, anything--I think it is so important for girls to have a strong, creative bond with a male role model.

My kids both play music with their father. The youngest actually takes lessons together with him; the oldest just plays with him. They each play music with him several times a week. When they were younger they took music and movement classes with him. When dd#1 gets a little older, her papa would like to take swing dance lessons (through our local parks and rec).

Ideally something that would either be creative (like a painting class) or active (like ballroom dance). Something a little funky and unusual.

My youngest DD and I took fencing lessons for a year. I am NOT athletic or graceful. DD was the youngest by 20 years in the first class we took. Initially I took it with her because that was the only way the instructor would let someone so young in the class. It ended up being a lot of fun, and a confidence builder for both of us. It was something neither of us had EVER done before, or even watched, and we didn't know anyone who fenced. We just saw the offering in the City Parks and Rec classes and thought it would be fun.

I hope she can find some fun activities, to build her self confidence, to help her bond with other kids, and to help develop some lifelong skills/health/hobbies.
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