It was Pat Benatar who sang that "love is a battlefield," but if love is a battlefield, the world of female teen relationships is more like a minefield. Your shy daughter's lack of social skills or social anxiety can put her in that minefield without a map. By helping her navigate the world of female relationships and finding ways for her to connect to those like her, you help her navigate the dicey terrain of making and keeping friends at her age.
Start small when you first begin to help your daughter make new friends, suggests KidsHealth.org. If she's painfully shy, encouraging her to go to a big party might only make her cling to the wall more than usual. Instead, a smaller gathering, like a few friends going to the movies or joining a small study group, might be a little more manageable. Smaller gatherings can help give your teen confidence to try larger events.
Find groups and events that are specific to your teen's interests. Joining teams and clubs can introduce her to other teens just like her, making it easier to find something in common. Whether it's a soccer team or an art club, she'll feel more like she fits in and may be more likely to reach out and try to make friends.
Practice social situations with your teen, suggests HealthyChildren.org. Part of her shyness may be derived from her lack of social skills, so try a few at home. Ask her how she'd respond if an acquaintance at school came and sat beside her at lunch or how she makes conversation before the bell rings. Practicing at home can help give your teen more confidence to try making friends in the real world.
Allow your teen to use the Internet as a way to make friends. While the Internet can be dangerous, thanks to cyberbullies and predators, monitored access to social networking sites, forums and moderated chat rooms might help move your shy teen out of her bubble. In an article for Indiana University's Research & Creative Activity magazine, Bernardo Carducci, professor of psychology at Indiana University Southeast, suggests that online relationships are less threatening than their real-life counterparts, making it easier for your teen to make friends -- just make sure she knows the rules for safe online interaction.
Emphasize the importance of quality friends over a large quantity of friends. Shy girls often connect better with one best friend than riding the social carousel that comes with scores of friends without a deep connection. If your teen has one or two close friends, she may not need to actively try and recruit more.