One study of seventh- and eighth-graders found that half of the students considered themselves shy.

Parents can help teens overcome shyness by helping them be more assertive—to communicate their likes, dislikes, wants and needs. Suggest that your teen:

• Practice “speaking up.” When you go to a restaurant, for example, have your teen place the order—and tell the waiter if the order isn’t right. Let her ask for the bill and speak up if the bill is wrong.

• Give a compliment a day. Compliments put others at ease—and give your teen something to say that’s sure to please. Teens can use compliments as an introduction and to get others to help them—”You dance so well. Could you show me that step?”

• Share a joke or a funny story. Humor helps people feel more comfortable in awkward and tense situations.

• Use the telephone to get information or place orders.

• Ask more questions in school when he doesn’t understand or needs more information, or to start a conversation. (“When is this assignment due?” “What topic did you select for your project?” “What did you think of the substitute teacher?”)

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