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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My eldest son is 8, he'll be 9 in April. I never had concerns about him socially before. At a party or any time I see him with peers, he's right in the mix. They're all playing and having a great time. He'll frequently take the lead, but seems to do great overall. He looks like a social superstar. But, he doesn't seem to have any friends. It's all very confusing.

We've encouraged him to have friends over after school or just set up play dates ourselves. And, again, he does great. Him and the friend will be playing, running around, having a great time. And so I'll ask, "Are you and "Tim" friends?" He'll say, "No. He's friends with "Bill"." What? He can be friends with both of you. Well, he doesn't like Star Wars like I do. Or whatever.

I've asked the teachers and they make the same observations. He's a good student. Does fine, but doesn't participate in class. If there's a new activity, he's definitely not interested in doing it. If they're given free time, he's reading alone in the corner.

I don't know. He doesn't seem unhappy, but not happy either. He's been talking about ways to get out of going to school. I don't know what to do. Maybe there just aren't any good playmates in his grade. I honestly haven't seen any ringers. (Like that kid would be a great friend for AJ). But, changing schools seems so drastic.

I don't know. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

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I don't know. He doesn't seem unhappy, but not happy either. He's been talking about ways to get out of going to school. I don't know what to do. Maybe there just aren't any good playmates in his grade
I work in a school, and I think it is a really big jump to go from a child talking about ways to get out of going to school to assuming that there aren't any good playmates there. Heck, at 5:45 this morning, I was trying to think of ways to get out of going to school, and I actually kinda love of my job and would be bored to tears without it.


Ask him why he doesn't want to go to school. May be he's like me and doesn't like mornings. May be he believes that laying on the couch watching TV would be more fun. May be he is stressed because he is completely lost in math. May be his teacher is kinda mean and scary. It really could be anything.


Is he in any outside activities? Scouts? Basketball at the Y? Swim team? In trying to make his life more fun and more social for him, I would try to find an activity that he could get really excited about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Of course I don't think there aren't any good kids in the school, just maybe, in his grade, there aren't any good playmates for him. Maybe, there's just no one he clicks with. We've had a number of kids over for playdates and I can see why he's not interested in pursuing a strong friendship. They just don't seem to have any chemistry (?). This is in contrast to my daughter (2 years younger, same school) who has connected with a bunch of kids.


Naturally, I've talked with him about why he doesn't want to go to school. He mostly says he's bored. I've tried to delve into the classic "I'm bored" realm with medium success. Every minute of everyday isn't going to be a video game at school, but I DO want him to generally find the stuff interesting and challenging. Overall, I (and his teachers) aren't concerned about the academics. He's not very "sportsy", but we have signed him up for Lego Club which he seems to enjoy, but it's only about 5 sessions.




I guess, like every parent, I want him to be generally happy and will always worry about him. I want him to build a support network of friends now because junior high is coming up fast and school doesn't get any easier, IMO. I don't want to see everyone in their own friend groups and him being excluded. It always struck me that the loner was the target for bullies. And, it's just tough going through anything alone.
 

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I'm a little confused. So when he invites a kid over for a playdate, do they play well together as I thought I got from your first post, or is there no chemistry? I do understand there's a lot of in-between area where kids can play together if they happen to be the only option around. We have that with a neighbor girl. And I don't think you need "chemistry" to run around in a pack at a party, I get that too.

I agree, you need to find out why he doesn't want to go to school. It could be something different.

Some other ideas. Does he have cordial but casual relationships with the kids in his class? My son always starts out that way, even a little stand-offish at first, then picks up a new best friend part way through the year (he's never once been in a class with an old best friend, the school purposely separates them). My daughter is different. She'll seem a little lonely and then bam, suddenly have a good friend. It's also happened at summer camps. For her, it hasn't necessarily been about needing a certain amount of time to warm up to the point she can be "besties," but it's been about having one good time connecting with pretend-play. Has he ever had a good friend? Does he know what that's like? I do agree that it can be impossible to get really close to a kid who is in a "best friends" relationship with someone else. Those can get pretty intense. Is that how he's interpreting your questions? Does he get invited to birthday parties? Not whole-class ones, but ones where a kid invites 10 or so of his or her "pack"? I guess I would worry if he has no cordial relationships at school, doesn't get invited to parties, is unhappy about the situation.

I went to school before Gifted and Talented programs and didn't click great with any kids in my particular classes until we reached 6th grade, when they started putting all the high-achieving kids in one class. I was shy and I'm still no social star, but I'm not the odd kid who was bullied and I'm a successful adult. If your kid has some unusual interests it may be hard for him to find someone with whom he clicks, and trying to find a place where he can meet kids with whom he has more in common could be a goal. Look for things he wants to do. Other than swimming lessons, I don't sign my kids up for anything they don't want to do (I admit, we have the luxury of being in a city with a lot of different offerings, and we are lucky enough to be able to afford things like Summer Art Camp). Research what's around.
 

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I want him to build a support network of friends now because junior high is coming up fast and school doesn't get any easier, IMO.
True that school doesn't get any easier, but my own kids' groups of friends changed 100% in middle school/junior high, right about 7th grade. And then a change (expansion of friend group) again in high school. Maybe your child just needs a bigger pond?
 

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I guess, like every parent, I want him to be generally happy and will always worry about him.

It was never my expectation that my kids would always be happy. They are humans, and humans are sometimes happy and sometimes not happy. I don't worry about my kids all the time. Sometimes I do, but I try to find a way to stop. Worry is completely useless emotion. It also gives kids the message that they cannot handle their own lives. Sometimes kids can't handle their own lives and do need our help, but the rest of the time, it's good to give them the space to figure things out and the solid message that we have faith in them. By phrasing this "like every parent," you make it sound like you don't have a choice in how you feel or what your attitudes are, and I really disagree with that. There are lot of ways to look at this. You are choosing a really negative one.



I was shy and I'm still no social star, but I'm not the odd kid who was bullied and I'm a successful adult. If your kid has some unusual interests it may be hard for him to find someone with whom he clicks, and trying to find a place where he can meet kids with whom he has more in common could be a goal. Look for things he wants to do. Other than swimming lessons, I don't sign my kids up for anything they don't want to do (I admit, we have the luxury of being in a city with a lot of different offerings, and we are lucky enough to be able to afford things like Summer Art Camp). Research what's around.

I agree with all this. It isn't the shy kid who gets bullied, it's the kid with zero self confidence who gets worked up easily. IMH, the best way to bully proof your child is to truly believe in him (instead of getting upset that he likes to read a book instead of being in the middle of the group).


Also, FIND HIM AN ACTIVITY. Stop trying to micromanage his social life, and don't change his school unless something is actually wrong, but sign him up for SOMETHING.

True that school doesn't get any easier, but my own kids' groups of friends changed 100% in middle school/junior high, right about 7th grade. And then a change (expansion of friend group) again in high school. Maybe your child just needs a bigger pond?


I completely agree. I think that trying to create the right friend group now for middle school is a complete waste of your time.
 

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I was always super shy and enjoyed reading instead of being in a group of people until maybe 5th grade - when I became friends with a super sociable person. I did have a best friend, but I don't know if we really had the connection you are mentioning and may have just been similar: shy and everyone else was paired up. I was as happy as a kid is in school - neither close to tears about the prospect of going but also not being challenged or loving it. It was just a routine.

But, I definitely didn't feel like I needed or wanted more friends. As a natural introvert I didn't need a group or want a group. I instead liked to observe things that people missed and cultivate a deep inner life through reading, imagination, etc.

As I grew older I become much more openly sociable and may seem "extroverted" to many people, but I am still the same introverted kid who doesn't want my friend activities to be in a big group and like being alone. I do have and have had some really good friends with instant connections. SO my point is that your son may just be a confident sociable introvert. I actually see it as a good sign that he is willing to sit and read rather than feel forced to interact with kids. He has the confidence to follow his instincts and interests.

I think you are just over thinking this. He has friends (kids to play with) and will have friends. I think too you are forgetting that there are so many different types of friends in life based on so many different reasons. Often as a child our friends are people we are around or people who are like us or like the same thing, but as we get older the reasons often change. And if he doesn't have friends and is unhappy about it or it becomes lonely and negative, then it would be a good reason to sign him up for something he is interested in.

Good Luck with everything!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Whoa. I'm feeling a little attacked here.. First off....


True that school doesn't get any easier, but my own kids' groups of friends changed 100% in middle school/junior high, right about 7th grade. And then a change (expansion of friend group) again in high school. Maybe your child just needs a bigger pond?

Thank you for this. You're right. I hadn't thought of the size difference in school. Hopefully, he will expand his social group and I'm sure things will change when he gets to junior high. I'm just hoping to set him up on a good path.

I'm a little confused. So when he invites a kid over for a playdate, do they play well together as I thought I got from your first post, or is there no chemistry? I do understand there's a lot of in-between area where kids can play together if they happen to be the only option around. We have that with a neighbor girl. And I don't think you need "chemistry" to run around in a pack at a party, I get that too.

I agree, you need to find out why he doesn't want to go to school. It could be something different.

Some other ideas. Does he have cordial but casual relationships with the kids in his class? My son always starts out that way, even a little stand-offish at first, then picks up a new best friend part way through the year (he's never once been in a class with an old best friend, the school purposely separates them). My daughter is different. She'll seem a little lonely and then bam, suddenly have a good friend. It's also happened at summer camps. For her, it hasn't necessarily been about needing a certain amount of time to warm up to the point she can be "besties," but it's been about having one good time connecting with pretend-play. Has he ever had a good friend? Does he know what that's like? I do agree that it can be impossible to get really close to a kid who is in a "best friends" relationship with someone else. Those can get pretty intense. Is that how he's interpreting your questions? Does he get invited to birthday parties? Not whole-class ones, but ones where a kid invites 10 or so of his or her "pack"? I guess I would worry if he has no cordial relationships at school, doesn't get invited to parties, is unhappy about the situation.

Yes to the first part. He seems to have no problem in the overall cordial friendliness part and he'll play fine in a group. But, he certainly has never had a "best friend." He was invited to birthday parties more in past years and not so far this year. I tend to think there are less parties as kids get older (?) But, maybe he's just not getting invited to them.






It was never my expectation that my kids would always be happy. They are humans, and humans are sometimes happy and sometimes not happy. I don't worry about my kids all the time. Sometimes I do, but I try to find a way to stop. Worry is completely useless emotion. It also gives kids the message that they cannot handle their own lives. Sometimes kids can't handle their own lives and do need our help, but the rest of the time, it's good to give them the space to figure things out and the solid message that we have faith in them. By phrasing this "like every parent," you make it sound like you don't have a choice in how you feel or what your attitudes are, and I really disagree with that. There are lot of ways to look at this. You are choosing a really negative one.

Also, FIND HIM AN ACTIVITY. Stop trying to micromanage his social life, and don't change his school unless something is actually wrong, but sign him up for SOMETHING.


What's going on here? Why are you yelling at me? I never said I wanted him to always be happy. you even quoted me. I said, "generally happy." How did you twist that into a bad thing? And, I said I will always worry about my kids. Always as in all my life, not in every second of every day. I thought that was universal. I guess not. How is choosing to be concerned about my children a "really negative attitude"? And, how am I "micromanaging his social life"? If I was I wouldn't be asking the question at all! I'd have set up all his playdates, made all his friends for him and not be posting my concerns! I'm generally happy with my son. There's no fire to put out here. There's no emergency. I just posted my thoughts and sought input. Not a personal attack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was always super shy and enjoyed reading instead of being in a group of people until maybe 5th grade - when I became friends with a super sociable person. I did have a best friend, but I don't know if we really had the connection you are mentioning and may have just been similar: shy and everyone else was paired up. I was as happy as a kid is in school - neither close to tears about the prospect of going but also not being challenged or loving it. It was just a routine.

But, I definitely didn't feel like I needed or wanted more friends. As a natural introvert I didn't need a group or want a group. I instead liked to observe things that people missed and cultivate a deep inner life through reading, imagination, etc.

As I grew older I become much more openly sociable and may seem "extroverted" to many people, but I am still the same introverted kid who doesn't want my friend activities to be in a big group and like being alone. I do have and have had some really good friends with instant connections. SO my point is that your son may just be a confident sociable introvert. I actually see it as a good sign that he is willing to sit and read rather than feel forced to interact with kids. He has the confidence to follow his instincts and interests.

I think you are just over thinking this. He has friends (kids to play with) and will have friends. I think too you are forgetting that there are so many different types of friends in life based on so many different reasons. Often as a child our friends are people we are around or people who are like us or like the same thing, but as we get older the reasons often change. And if he doesn't have friends and is unhappy about it or it becomes lonely and negative, then it would be a good reason to sign him up for something he is interested in.

Good Luck with everything!

Thank you for this. You're right. I'm not freaking out or anything. I just want him to have a base of friends to build on or narrow in on or just have those experiences that help us learn who are friends are and what we want in a friend. I think, in order to learn those things, you have to do them.
 
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sorry for you that you felt a bit attacked .... i 've been wondering /having similar thoughts about my middle child, who doesn't really have a "best friend" & was rarely invited to birthday parties (as opposed to eldest child, nearest in age, so it was easy for me to compare ... and fret a bit ...) starting towards the end of grade school ....

i second the idea of Linda on the move to get your child signed up for "something" .... i had a neighbor who started a martial art class 5 years ago so the opportunity arose for middle child to engage in that with other kids, some of them from the school, but not necessarily exactly the same age. He dropped it this school year .... but at least by then, we had found another sport type activity that both him and i do together/have been doing together these last few years one evening a week ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks @IsaFrench

"Fret a bit" describes it well. We talked more and signed him up for fencing which he was super excited about.

The teacher said he's been participating more in class, so maybe just shining the light on things has brought about change. Or maybe it was all just a phase anyways and never anything to worry about it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Maybe you have a budding introvert on your hands? As I was growing up I never thought I had many real friends, it was't really until facebook became popular and many of my old school mates contacted me that I realized they were friends. So what if he doesn't call the kids he plays with "friends". As long as he is ggenerally happy, all is good. Doing something he loves or is excited about is great. But don't worry if he doesn't think he is making friends. He probably is, he just doesn't realize it.

Oh, and my eldest and middle son's are exactly the same. To the point that when we moved (with warning) and ds#1 moved school, he didn't warn anyone! Including someone who thought they were best friends!! This poor lad apparently became really depressed, to the point his mom called me!!! They are now both in the same high school, and really great friends, but it shows that my son was totally oblivious to what he meant to someone else. He's learning.....your son will too.
 

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Whoa. I'm feeling a little attacked here..

I'm sorry. I was tired when I posted, and I didn't come across they way I meant to.


I think that our kids pick up on what we think about them, even when we think we aren't showing it. When we feel that something is wrong with them or that they aren't doing OK, I think they know it. When they are truly struggling, its just the way it is, but even then, I think that the degree to which we can have confidence that they will get through it helpful to them.


But right now with your son, there isn't anything wrong. He likes to read. He's quiet. He doesn't jump into new things without checking them out first. He is on an emotional even keel. Those are all really good traits. He's better set up for the teen years than a lot of his peers just due to his basic personality. He is unlikely to blindly follow a crowd or engage in risk taking behavior. Kids who read for pleasure tend to have more school success than kids who don't.


I think that seeing his personality in a positive light rather than seeing it as a concern would be good for him, because it would give him the message that he is OK, exactly the way he is.


What's going on here? Why are you yelling at me?

I'm sorry about that. I emphasized the advice to find him an activity because I had already posted it, and you hadn't responded to it. I think it is good advice, and I'm glad that he is going to give fencing a shot.


I think that activities are good for kids for several reasons. For one thing, they are fun and interesting. School can be fun, but there is limit as to how much fun it can be to learn language arts and take standardized test and watch the drama between other kids and have your class loose 5 minutes of recess because other kids were talking -- or whatever it is about his school day that doesn't work for him. Even when a school is over all good, and even when it is a good fit for a specific child, there is just a limit to how much "fun" it can be.


Outside activities, on the other hand, can help a child find their passions. They can let the child become really good at something, and then receive the confidence boost from that. I think there is a greater potential for joy from a chosen activity than from school.


Outside activities can also soften the importance of the social dynamic at school. For a while in middle school, one of my DDs went back and forth between which set of friends she was enjoying more -- her school friends or her swim team friends. When their was girl drama at school, having the swim team friends lessened what it meant to her because it wasn't her whole world.
 
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