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How can you help your shy Asian son thrive?


Replies to: How can you help your shy Asian son thrive?

  • VickiSoCalVickiSoCal Registered User Posts: 2,030 Senior Member
    Tell him to go to Sadie's with the cute blonde in his math class and not back out. :-)
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,839 Senior Member
    "I don't know how leaving school, home and neighborhood to go to a new school or district are going to effect a struggling kid. It could go either way."

    I think that this is a very good point, but it largely depends upon what the student wants to do.

    In our case our daughter dreaded going back to her former large stressful suburban high school. We found the smaller Waldorf school nearby, figured out that we could afford it, and gave her the choice. She visited the Waldorf school for a day (sitting in on classes for the day and meeting with current students) before she made the decision.

    Of course, if you are going to let the student make the decision, you had better give him a choice that you, as a parent, can live with. As an example there is another very expensive very stressful prestigious / pretentious private school relatively close to where we live. We could not afford it and college (and retirement) too. We never suggested it, our daughter never asked about it, and we would not have offered her the choice to go there (although I am sure that she is smart and sensible enough that she wouldn't have chosen it).

    Others have mentioned tutoring, which again can help significantly. Some very excellent tutors are out there, and the ones that we have dealt with are very good at helping the students in a low-stress encouraging way.

    Perhaps another point out of this: Smart well meaning hard working kids can get off-track, particularly in a stressful situation (which high school frequently is). It is most of the time possible to turn this around, one way or another. It might be a fair amount of effort to figure out how to do so.
  • OttermaOtterma Registered User Posts: 1,051 Senior Member
    Changing schools might be a good thing to do but it would be best if when your son does start anew he has an understanding of why he went off track in the first place. Otherwise, his stress and anxiety will just be transferring with him.

    Tutoring could address his tendency to hide and not ask needed questions and would be a straightforward fix if your son's problem is purely academic (everyone is stronger in some areas than others). The problem for introverts is that simple academic problems can quickly become a downward spiral into stress and depression. Same thing with learning disabilities. Figuring out what's going on is key.
  • SugarlessCandySugarlessCandy Registered User Posts: 269 Junior Member
    There are lots of good ideas in this thread. I hope OP and his child find one that works for them.

  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,463 Senior Member
    Ditto on many good ideas in this thread. Definitely discuss your concerns with his guidance counselor this spring. Being Asian (Indian, Chinese or another culture) does not mean being unable to thrive in the American school system (my H is Indian and know many), especially if he is growing up here.

    Have you asked your son for any reasons for the change in grades? Find out what his perceptions are. As others state, there is the possibility of some kind of learning problem that the school can diagnose and help him with. Depression could be another cause. Fear of failure and perfectionism could be catching up with him.

    Being introverted does NOT preclude all extracurricular activities. My introverted son enjoyed bein gin his orchestra, academic teams and cross country running (a sport all kids were able to do the running regardless of being good at it). Others may enjoy chess. Introverts need "down time" but do enjoy being with others like them (not extroverts like me who need social interaction). I went to some lectures given by our school years ago. One speaker on introversion (75% of the population is extroverted, although the converse is true of the highly gifted) who was a teacher spoke of how she needed her down time alone when she had free periods when most of the other teachers would socialize.

    It is healthy to have a mix of academics and other activities. Five hours a night seems excessive and I'd wonder how productive those hours actually were (kids can stall, play computer games and a lot of other stuff when supposedly studying).

    Just changing schools will not fix the problem. Talk to your son and see what he thinks the problem is. You need to identify the underlying reasons for the changes to treat them and not just change schools in the hope thongs will work. The guidance counselor's job is to help you and your son in this.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,014 Senior Member
    There is a lot of pressure against introversion, but in the adult world, it's far less of a problem. Many, many career paths are suitable for introverts, and there's nothing "wrong" with people who tend towards introversion. I'm a pretty extreme extrovert, but I have lots of introverted friends, and their tendencies don't ever stand in the way of our friendships.
  • SugarlessCandySugarlessCandy Registered User Posts: 269 Junior Member
    Tell me about it. I never understood why people consider being an introvert as something that needs fixing.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,463 Senior Member
    re above- the same reason people thing so many other things need fixing- religion, culture... People have not been taught there are many right ways- there is the best way to strive for. A lot of information came too late for me to understand my son's needs when he was growing up. It also would have helped me understand myself. Awareness for the majority that not all people operate under the same intrinsic ways has finally been researched and documented. Deciding what is normal depends on realizing that more than one norm exists. This is also happening for other variations of being human- eg homosexuality and other issues. One size doesn't fit all!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 8,357 Senior Member
    What stands out for me here is not the introversion, which certainly does not have to be a problem, but the fact that here is a kid who spends 5 hours holed up in his room doing homework, and is getting C's after straight A's the year before. Humanities in high school seem to present a problem.

    Either the school work has changed, or something about the kid has changed.

    So change the school, or evaluate the kid. Or both.

    I thought the suggestion that he might be doing something else, like video games, was an interesting one....

    So glad the parent and son are having conversations. When all is said and done, the relationship is the best tool for addressing problems at this age.

    ps I have friends who never spoke in class and did fine. Granted, this young man is not seeking help, but that is not uncommon and in 9th grade, involvement by a parent is still tolerated by the school, to some extent anyway. If extra help is needed, there are coaches (online or in person) as well as tutors. But first, what is going on?!
  • SugarlessCandySugarlessCandy Registered User Posts: 269 Junior Member
    edited March 14
    FWIW, our school has similar amount of work for kids with a full rigorous load. If you have ECs and rehearsals/practices then it's impossible to get recommended amount of sleep.
  • inthegardeninthegarden Registered User Posts: 623 Member
    edited March 16
    @atSugarlessCandy, OP writes very articulately in English, so even if her son's mother tongue is not English, it seems likely that he has grown up in an English-rich, if not perfectly fluent environment.

    I'm sure your response is just meant to be helpful, but I hope you're not assuming that because someone is racially Asian that English is probably not the first language....a possiblility, in this case, yes,( just as someone with African ancestry might speak Swahili or Hausa...but we don't tend to assume it in that case.)

    Don't want to take this thread off on a tangent, just sayin'. This is the type of thing that tends to segregate people of Asian descent into the assumed "foreigner" category in a way that other ethnic groups don't automatically tend to get as much...leading to the feeling of being permanent foreigners in our culture. I have some experience with this, as we adopted our daughter from China. Imagine your American-raised kid having to experience others telling her she can't be a "real" American, or a stranger saying "you speekie English?" That, in itself, could cause some sensitive souls to become more shy (or more aggressive.)

    Just an aside, that's all. Don't want to derail this discussion...
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,839 Senior Member
    Someone I know well who is a professor at a very good small university told me recently that he thought that most of his smartest and most thoughtful students have had an episode of depression at some point. I am not sure whether "most" is a slight exaggeration, but definitely depression is common. I am quite sure that this can affect highly intelligent, shy, thoughtful, articulate and polite teenagers without any regard for what ethnic or racial group they happened to have be born into.

    I just re-watched the movie "Race to Nowhere" last night. When I first saw it years ago it I had trouble knowing how accurate it was. After seeing two daughters go through high school, and watching their friends and acquaintances and events of various kinds, the movie seems to be pretty much right on.

    I have seen and/or heard of cases of such kids blossoming very well once the underlying problem is diagnosed and treated. From what I have heard this seems to include many very famous and very successful people.
  • inthegardeninthegarden Registered User Posts: 623 Member
    edited March 16
    ^^ I have also read that highly intelligent people often have higher levels of anxiety than average. This makes sense to me...if your brain is capable of perceiving a lot of information, and spends a lot of time trying to reconcile seemingly conflicting facts and ideas, it may be overwhelming.

    I wonder if the study of science/math is reassuring to this boy, not because it's easier (it isn't) but because math/science speaks a rational language, and uses orderly, progressive methods. The study of language, literature, and history is somewhat subjective, and can seem chaotic and unpredictable. Humanities lead some very rational people to have a hard time knowing how to deal with the endless factors that don't seem to lead to any logical conclusion. He may be intelligent enough to not want to accept the status-quo conclusions presented at school. Maybe he thinks in a more complex way than the assessment tools measure at his grade level...not overthinking, necessarily, but overthinking, given the situation of the classroom. I used to do very poorly on multiple choice tests in the humanities, for example, because I could think of situations (erroneously or not) in which a wrong answer or two COULD be true. I had to learn the knack of simplifying. Wonder if this is could be what OP's son is doing.

    I also spent years in lonely introspection as a teen...reading, reading, reading (homework, not so much)... but much of this was because of parents who didn't want me to leave the house and disapproved of most teen-centered socializing. It did put me behind socially, for years. I do agree it's important to honor his natural introversion (if that's the case) but to also learn skills for navigating and enjoying activities out in the world and dealing early with any social anxiety he might have. Maybe robotics, chess, science clubs, trivia teams, etc., could give him outlets with like-minded people. What about pets? Dogs can bring out the happiest and most tender emotions in many people, while involvement in dog-training and agility clubs can be really fun!
  • megan12megan12 Registered User Posts: 642 Member
    The description of the OP's son makes me think of language-based learning disabilities. Before you do anything, you should have him tested. It's not unusual for kids to be diagnosed as late as high school. Testing will be expensive, but it will give you answers. If there is an issue, you need to get some support IMMEDIATELY. Otherwise, these grades will continue throughout high school and into college, causing a lot of anxiety and depression, which he may already have. Being introverted is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it's caused by anxiety and depression, then you need to address it.

    He needs to be able to interact with others, both in class projects and in outside activities because he'll need those skills later on in life. Plus, it's a very lonely existence. If he's not, it may not be just because he's shy. I was a shy kid too, and so are both of my kids, but we all participated in sports and clubs. Serious social anxiety, however, can be paralyzing and cause a person to avoid groups and social activities. Hopefully, he has at least a few friends he feels comfortable with and is not spending all of his time doing homework. BTW, when they test for learning disabilities, there is usually a psychological evaluation as well, probably because these issues can go hand in hand.
This discussion has been closed.