Is Your Child Having Trouble Making Friends? Don’t Panic

Peace at Home March 28, 2023 | Stephanie Rondeau, Aaron Weintraub,

It’s really hard to watch your child have difficulty making friends.You may worry that they’re unhappy and search for ways to fix what you perceive as a problem. The good news is that it’s not always something that we need to fix! If you think your child is having trouble socially, first—take a deep breath. There are some simple strategies you can use to discover what exactly is going on, if there’s a problem at all, and what you can do to help if necessary. 

  • Pause, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and try to remember that this is not necessarily an emergency. Even if your child is having trouble making friends or connecting with peers, this is a normal part of development and doesn’t mean that there’s anything “wrong” with them. Your child’s brain is still developing. Social skills and friendships will continue to grow and change as they mature. 
  • Reflect. Often, our own experiences as a child shape the expectations we have for our children. Whether you were a popular and outgoing child who had tons of friends, or a more reserved child who sometimes felt left out, it can be easy to project those feelings onto our kids. Take a beat to think about whether your feelings are truly coming from concerns your child has expressed, or if they might be based more on your own experiences. 
  • Communicate with your child. Are their lack of friendships bothering them? Do they feel uncomfortable in social situations where there are too many kids? Do they feel like they can’t relate to other kids for some reason? Finding out what it is specifically that your child is having a hard time with can point you in the right direction. This is most effective when you know how to ask relaxed, open-ended questions and how to validate your child’s feelings and perspectives even when you don’t agree. You may discover that your child isn’t as upset about their lack of friends as you are—they could be at a stage in their development where more solo time is what they prefer. 
  • Expand Opportunities for friend making. If your child is bothered by a lack of social connections, consider letting them try out new clubs or activities in order to expand the group of people that they’re exposed to. Maybe your logic-brained child will find some like minded friends in a chess class, or maybe your active child could find some great connections in a sports club. Allowing your child to discover activities and hobbies that they enjoy could open them up to newfound confidence and new friendships. 
  • Make home a safe place. Pay special attention to make sure that your home is an emotionally safe place for your child. You may want to take some time to learn about what that means. This is important at all times, but especially when they may be having a difficult time at school. Show genuine interest in their interests and make sure that you devote even a brief amount of time daily to positive, one-on-one time between you and your child. 

It’s hard  to watch your child go through something challenging, especially something that feels so out of your control. Keep in mind that facing reasonable difficulties can strengthen resilience so don’t be too quick to try to fix it. By following these steps, you are doing your best to help your child feel fulfilled socially and emotionally. And at the end of the day, remember that friendships and relationships look different for everyone. By listening, communicating, and offering support, you’re giving your child the best foundation for making friends in a way that works for them. 

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