What to Do If Your Child Has Difficulty Making Friends

Making friends is not for all of us – or for our children it is natural. Or sometimes, making a part is not as difficult as a holding part. But it is heartbreaking to think that our children can be lonely or isolated from their peers, especially in school. But how much, if anything, can parents do to help without being overbearing or intrusive?

Get to the root of the problem

First, it’s important to note that just because your teenager or teen spends a lot of time at home or in their bedroom on weekends doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have friends or are unhappy. Some kids are just natural introverts or enjoy being alone. Michael Angar writes for Psychology Today :

During my career as a family therapist, I have interviewed extremely welcoming parents on several occasions who wanted to pathologize their child’s lack of peer relationship, when the child was actually quite happy with one or two close friends and had plenty of time to read. and dream.

But for those who really want to have more friends, the reasons for their struggle usually fall into two categories. Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating adolescents , discusses these reasons in the US News & World Report :

  • Some kids are just shy and anxious. This can make it difficult to communicate comfortably with peers. Due to their temperament and lack of comfort, they may prefer to back down and avoid.
  • Some children have social difficulties. They lack interpersonal skills, which discourages peers and makes it difficult to establish friendships. They may misread social cues. They may be overbearing or aggressive, or talk only about themselves and show little interest in others. Or they may be too intrusive and possessive, needy, or even a little angry or sarcastic.

Understanding why they are having friendship problems is the first step in helping them do this. You can make it easier for shy children to develop friendships over time, especially when they are younger. This could mean setting up dates, offering to drive them and one or two friends for ice cream after a baseball game, or having a barbecue next door so the kids can socialize more.

For teens who need to develop social skills, Hangar offers to get hold of the book Building Friendships: A Children’s Guide to Making and Maintaining Friendships , which outlines the common problems of friendship, teaches children how to be open to friendship and how to be a good friend. … You can also try playing a little or teaching yourself at home. Greenberg says :

Watch their interactions to see how they might alienate their peers. Is it difficult for you to communicate with your children? If so, be aware that they may interact with peers in a similar way. Discuss these issues with your children, but do it carefully and carefully so that your children are not ashamed or angry. Give them the opportunity to practice and hone their social skills. Sign up for classes that interest them. This is an opportunity to both practice social skills and do what the child likes.

Focus on quality over quantity

So they have one Girl Scout friend, and … that’s all. This is fine! This is actually good! This shows that they can find friends. This is what certified parent trainer Megan Leahy wrote in the Washington Post to a parent whose 15-year-old daughter has friends at church but not at school:

Your daughter should also understand that friendship is important, but correct friendship is more important. Help your daughter see the traits and qualities she values ​​in her church friends, and then see if there are people like her in the school. Since teens can become global in their assumptions (all evil), it is a useful exercise to ask your daughter thoughtful questions. Remember that she may not have quick answers, but helping her slow down and thinking is good for both her and the people she knows.

Don’t push it

Most likely, they are already upset about not having friends; the last thing you want to do is nudge them and make them feel even worse. And it still won’t work. Moreover, as teenagers turn into teenagers, you simply cannot solve this problem on your own. Leahy writes :

Parents cannot force a teenager to do anything, much less make friends. At best, your daughter will resent you. At worst, she will still have a hard time making friends, but now she will not want to reach out to her parents because they seem to want to “fix” her.

More important than encouraging them to keep trying to make friends is to be their support system, which is why Leahy advises to “listen to her, empathize and hug her.”

Remember, too, that most of your influence is in your own behavior. Focus on simulating what good, healthy friendships look like while maintaining yours at all times.

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