jmc3mom asks:

How can I help my 13 year old son be more social?

I have a great 13 year old son. He is pretty much a straight A student, plays on a traveling soccer team and his school basketball team and a traveling basketball team, and is really sweet towards his younger sister and brother. He has lots of "acquaintances" but really just one best friend. If his best friend is not around our son prefers to stay at home and doesnt really venture out to call other people. His dad and i enjoy having him around but our hearts break when we hear of other 8th graders having plans with friends every weekend. Our son says he is not getting teased, that he enjoys school,  and he is "right in the middle at school," not popular but not unpopular. We are not shooting for our son to be popular at all but would just like him to have a few more friends to hang out with. Are we worrying too much? We were thinking of taking him to see a psychologist in case he isnt telling us something but we think he really needs more of a "social coach" then a psychologist.
In Topics: Teen issues
> 60 days ago



Oct 4, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I agree with your first sentence.  You have a great 13 year old son.
You go on to describe a teen who is engaged in academics, athletics, and a close personal friendship.  These factors point to a well adjusted child, not one who needs a psychologist.

Social skills and experiences come in a variety of ways. Having a bustling weekend social life is not the only indicator of social success.  The fact that your son interacts on three teams, is not unpopular at school, gets great grades and is sweet to his sibs offers much to be encouraged about regarding his social nature.  By the way, some mental health professionals view sibling relationships in childhood as predictors for success in primary relationships later in life.

What I suggest is this.  Keep an eye on him.  If his grades go down; if he loses interest in his usual enjoyments; if his temperament changes; or if he actually begins to isolate, then you would have more reason for concern, and possibly cause to see a psychologist.

If you want to vibe up a little more social action for him, you might try some of the suggestions in the parents' responses.  You might also talk to teachers, coaches, guidance counselors to get a sense of how they see his social skills.

Overall I see very little to be concerned about.  There is every reason to believe that as he grows, so will his friendship base.

My advice is to uplift your hearts, and enjoy having this lovely son around.
Take pleasure from seeing him partake in his activities and succeed in his school work.  He does sound great.

Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
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