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yedna
yedna asks:
Q:

What can I do to help my 9 year old son make and keep friends?

I am worried about my 9 soon to be 10 year old.  He seems to have trouble making and keeping friends.  There appears to be a "clique" of boys in his class and he is not in this "clique."  One of the more popular boys teased another popular boy who missed a soccer shot that "even my son was able to make that shot."  The neighbor that plays with my son and attends his school/class does not play with him at recess.  My son wants and enjoys playing with other boys but he seems intimidated by ones his age.  He has told me that at recess he plays with some 3rd graders that he has identified as friends.  Should I be concerned?  What about the neighbor who seems to ignore him at school and play with him after school only - should I encourage him to be friends with this kid?  I unfortunately do not have a lot of friends (actually only one) of my own.  Am I a bad role model/example for him? I know peer groups are important at this age and just do not know what to do to encourage him.  I tried to sign him up in Karate and he is not interested.  He is in swimming classes though.  Please offer some assistance.  It breaks my heart to think that he may be lonely.  He is an only child and his father is infrequently involved.
In Topics: Friendships and peer relationships
> 60 days ago

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
It is so heartbreaking to watch our kids struggle socially isn't it?  Kids can be really cruel and often times it seems like there's no rhyme or reason behind who's "in" and who's "out" of the cliques at school.  This age (4th grade, 9 or 10 years old) seems to be when things get tough for kids.  

I think a good first step would be to talk to your son about how he's feeling about his situation.  I sometimes worry about my own son because he's very shy and quiet. But every time I talk to him about his social life he reminds me that he's really happy having just a few good friends and not being in the center of things on the playground.  He'd rather play by himself than be part of a big kick ball game and I constantly have to remind myself that that's OK because he's happy.  If you have an honest conversation with him, your son can probably help you understand whether he actually does feel lonely and the specific parts of his situation that he's unhappy about (if any).

If you find out that your son does want to have more friends at school but just doesn't feel confident about making them, maybe you can help him by setting up some play dates after school or on the weekends with kids he feels like he might enjoy spending time with.  I've seen with my son that he has a much easier time developing relationships one-on-one outside of school.  It may take a while, but eventually these out of school relationships can turn into in-school friendships too.  As far as the neighbor goes (who your son plays with outside of school but not in school) - you should ask your son whether he's ever talked to the neighbor about that.  It sounds crazy but it could honestly be that the neighbor doesn't know your son wants to play with him at school.  My son is so quiet that kids often think he doesn't want to play with them simply because he's never asked or because he gets nervous and walks away when they ask him.

I do think it's important to keep a close eye on whether or not your son is being bullied.  It sounds like he may have been the punchline of a cruel joke which makes me wonder if he's being treated this way more frequently than you may be aware of.  I'd encourage you to check out Education.com's Bullying Resource center which will give you great info about how to talk to your son about bullying, determine if he might be being bullied, and help stop it if he is.  I'll paste the link below.

I'm sorry you're both suffering in this way.  It really is heartbreaking when it seems like the rest of the world doesn't appreciate your child the way you do.

Kat

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elaineannmarie
elaineannma... writes:
Hi yedna
Sor sorry for you little boy and your heartache,im in exactly the same boat as you right now, and its breaking my heart!!!
I dont know what to do or which way to turn for the best, i`m even thinking about changing school for his last year, im going to sit him down and talk to him tonight see if he would want to do that, his onfidence is so low, its awful listening to him..
It all begin when the leader of his friends didnt like him being friends with anyone else, and when that boy wasnt in school for a day or two, my son wouldnt play with anyone else,as Max made it clear if he did he wouldnt be his friend anymore..So now Max has newer friends my littlen has been pushed out and as theyve all established their little groups of friends, noone wants to invite him to join in, when he asks and they say no he simply walks away, and tells me its ok mum i just walk around and think of things in my head and it gets me thru..
As a parent im devasted, and heartbroken for him, i cant sleep or eat with worry, whis has been happening now for some time...
Its been some time since your post, so im wondering if your son managed to make some friends? any info and tips would be more than welcome.
> 60 days ago

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MyKidsmom1
MyKidsmom1 writes:
I am in a very similar situation. My son is very athletic and social but he only gets invited over by the kids he has nothing in common with. Don't get me wrong. I would rather have those kids invite him over than no one but he doesn't understand why he never gets invited to the "cool kid" parties. They post pictures of their parties on Instagram so he knows! My son was givin a sleepover party for Christmas (that was all he wanted) and told three of the cool kids he wanted to invite them. They seemed excited but they obviously did not reciprocate. I know these kids and they are nice, good boys. They just don't want to be friends with my son. Should I ask the parents what the problem is? Is there something my son is doing??
> 60 days ago

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Boys Town National Hotline
As children mature and find different interests they make different friends.  It is good that your son has been finding other friends from the 3rd grade class that share his same interests.  If the boys in his class are interested in scoccer and this is not something that your son is interested in, this is ok.  If your son, however, is interested in what they are playing and they are excluding him and being mean to him this is a different issue.  This is bullying.  Talk to your son's teacher about what has been happening and see what his/her observations have been.  Work together to find a sollution for this.  Let your son know that you support him and want the best for him.
 - Sara, Counselor
> 60 days ago

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Boys Town National Hotline
As children mature and find different interests they make different friends.  It is good that your son has been finding other friends from the 3rd grade class that share his same interests.  If the boys in his class are interested in scoccer and this is not something that your son is interested in, this is ok.  If your son, however, is interested in what they are playing and they are excluding him and being mean to him this is a different issue.  This is bullying.  Talk to your son's teacher about what has been happening and see what his/her observations have been.  Work together to find a sollution for this.  Let your son know that you support him and want the best for him.
 - Sara, Counselor
> 60 days ago

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yedna
yedna writes:
Hi and thanks to all who responded.  I was surprised to get a response 4 years later.  My son is now 13 and will be 14 this summer.  things have gotten better for him (so I think) since he started middle school (he will be in HS next grade year).  I still don't see him hanging with friends from school, but he says he has them and appears happy.  Sometimes in public places someone will recognize my son and call out his name or greet him.   I think he just doesn't want his mom meddling with his school chums.  The clique kinda evaporated as he met new kids in MS.  Don't know what HS would be like.  I think some kids are jus very private and have their home life (ESP if they live w/single parent and are an only child) and their school life. It also seems that as they grow so does their maturity and interests.  My son seems more logical, the older he gets.  He seems a bit more confident too.   I think if you leave it alone, it will work itself out.  I totally agree w/bullying behaviors that these should be stopped as they can create a lot of damage.  I never stop telling my son how much I love him and am proud of him.  I think that can be a self esteem booster too.  Looking back when he was in 5th grade, well, I think during that time is when groups of boys start to identify w/ their peers.  I think as they grow, they start to become more independent and look inwards to themselves.  So I think that things/issues have a way of working themselves out.  Also being a single parent, I spend so much of my time w/my child.  I need to learn to let go and give him space (though I think he enjoys my company).  One of my challenges will be to take a step back when he enters high school and let him fall.  The kid/neighbor still plays w/my son from time to time.  Interestingly, my son doesn't really care anymore if this kid likes him or not and that is good as this neighbor kid appears to be going through some issues of his own.
> 60 days ago

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DMBVLVR1
DMBVLVR1 writes:
As I was reading your question, I felt like I was on the outside looking into my own life.  I also have a 9 year old boy (soon to be 10) that seems to have a problem making friends.  My husband and I have asked him numerous times about friends at school, and he doesn't want to really open up.  He at times acts as if it is no big deal and other times gets very emotional and teary- eyed.  We did find out he was having an issue with a  boy at school calling him names in reference to my son being overweight (that is a whole other issue we are working on), but we found that he was not the only one, and that issue has since been resolved due to us involving his teacher.  We are lucky that he has the teacher he has this year- she has been tremendous at helping us to help him.  But, we do notice when in social settings with kids from his school, he doesn't run around with any of the groups, really talk to anyone, and nobody really makes an attempt to talk to him.  It is breaking my heart.  
We, too, have a neighbor boy who used to be friends with our son and play with him after school and on the weekends, but does not play with him any other time.  This boy is not very nice, so I don't have a problem with him not being around as much, but I worry about how my son feels about it.  When asked who his friends are at school, he names other boys and girls fairly easy, but if we ask him if he wants to have any of them over to play/hang out, he says no.  Our son depends solely on my husband and I to entertain him, and it's frustrating.
I don't know if letting the situation work itself out is the best way to approach the situation, but I am at a loss of what else to do.  We are looking into taking him to counseling, hoping that will help him, as well as my husband and I, figure this all out.  In the meantime... for so many reasons and in so many ways, I feel like I have failed my son, and all I want to do is make sure he is happy and healthy.  We are working on the healthy part, but I can't help but wonder if this is causing some of the issues, as well.  What do I do?  How do I help him?  This is consuming my every thought every day.  Am I worrying too much???
I wish I had the answers because I desperately need them.  Thank you for sharing your story- I at least don't feel so alone in my situation.
> 60 days ago

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Bearsma
Bearsma writes:
I think the best thing that we can do as mothers is do our best to provide the best possible circumstances we can for them.  I'm in a living in an area where it's  not good for my son so I am doing what I can to improve that by moving to an area that is better for him.

Your son is not friends with this clique/popular boys because they are bullies.  He plays with the younger kids because they are nice to him.  Your son sounds like he prefers non-confrontational situations and that he doesn't want to be around people who don't treat him right. Your son sounds like a great, easy going, confident boy.

I would leave it up to your son to pick who he wants to hang out with at recess and also the neighbor.

My son is  9, soon to be 10 years old too and has experienced bullying and loneliness too.   We can't control whether they get bullied, whether they will have lots of friends, and as heartbreaking as it is we have to accept that as single children they will experience loneliness.

I'm living in an area that is not good for my son socially, for his education, and there are no sports/activities.  So I am doing what I can to improve that by moving to an area where he can get a better education/resources, less bullying, and there will be more opportunities for activities/sports.    

 When we move my son may not quickly find a group of kids to chum around with.  But, that's what is good about group organizational sports/activities.  I want to help e can help my son to experience different activities so that he may discover 1 he does like.  That is another reason why I am moving to a different area is so he can experience different activities.  I would not worry that your son wasn't interested in karate.  Maybe he's a swimmer or maybe he hasn't found an interest yet.  Right now my son is only  interested in being a gamer.  

I wish I could protect my son as I know you would from all the pain and rejection in life, but we can't.  All we can do is try to provide the best situation/circumstances for them, be the person that our son's know is always there for them and we can try to help them through all the hard stuff that will happen in life.
37 days ago

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