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Interview with a psychologist

What do you do when your child has no friends

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If your child is beginning to show signs of distance and preferred isolation, then you may be wondering what do you do when your child has no friends? Social development is a part of a child’s nature that sets the tone for the rest of their life, and without learning the value of friends, community, and association, many evolve into adults that live according to their own limitations. Self-gratification and reclusiveness end up being the go-to instead of reaching a synergy of relation, communication, and growth through shared dreams, ideals, and concepts. Without connection, the singularity of being alone can be all-consuming. Is your child living a life without friends? Let’s delve deeper.

Contents:

Reasons why a child may not have friends

Before you can take any steps to help your child’s trouble making friends, one needs to take enough time to observe their general nature, habits, and moods. Don’t discuss their lives with others until it’s completely necessary. An open relationship with your child is going to be the only way that you gain clear insight into their lives, other than employing your number one tool and most vital asset to helping them make friends – observation. Here are the most common reasons why children may not have friends.

Your child may feel preoccupied

Young children can be consumed by all that is new, and the same can be said for every child and adult to a degree. Focus points become obsessions instead of steps in the succession of progress toward your goals. Distractions can be healthy, or they can mask a feeling of disconnection by replacing relationships with obsessive activities, compulsive hobbies, and other unbiased preferences for doing things by themselves. Children, at times, develop habits, rituals, and compulsions to help themselves cope with anxiety and avoid people.

It can be quite normal for young children to be consumed with what they’re doing. A healthy level of interest in passions is a good sign but look for patterns that may be hiding signs of a child who’s nervous around people.

If you notice that all their pastimes are solo endeavors and that they refrain from extra-mural activity, playtime with friends, and other public gatherings on purpose, then it may be time to ask whether their preoccupation is just an excuse to remain reclusive.

Older kids and teenagers who find it difficult to relate with others often switch compulsive kiddies games, bedtime rituals, and must-do after school tasks for unhealthy activities, bad influences, and addictive substances or pastimes. Keep an eye on what they occupy their time with. Every son and daughter will bounce through a plethora of things to do before they stick to what they like, but if your child is turning to unhealthy habits, then they’re trying to hide or repress something.

Your child may feel neglected

Children are quick to assume whatever it is that they think they deserve. If your child subtly feels that they’re getting less attention than a sibling, family member, subject, teacher, or friend, this can instill a belief that they’re deserving of neglect. It creates an attitude of second place. Once that’s set in place, everything forms evidence towards the notion of being neglected.

Earlier in life, feelings of neglect can manifest as a disinterest in physical hygiene, and a general reluctance to try new things. Instead of being fascinated with new subjects, toddlers, and preteens who feel neglected show disinterest from the start, withdrawing to their own devices instead of participating.

A child that’s seemingly happy but secretly feeling neglected will never come to you for help, never turning to you for advice, approval, or very much anything else.

Older schoolers and teens who are suffering under a sense of feeling neglected will exhibit aggression and demanding behavior towards their peers. An inability to relate to teachers and other kids can indicate the child having a sense that they don’t have any values or interests of interest to others, stemming from the core lack of self-esteem that develops when they think that their life and contributions are undervalued. Neglected children aging through their teen years start showing major trust issues.

Your child may feel confused

Children who are surrounded by a sense of familiarity to an unhealthy degree will grow up feeling tied to complacency. Without complete security or a feeling thereof, it becomes hard to reach out and connect with people around them. Lacking a sense of identity and confidence in what you know leads to thinking that you lack the ability, affinity, or basic experiences to connect, which creates a prevailing sense of confusion and an inability to act. Action goes beyond the things that it takes to sustain you, and unhealthy behavior of separation and isolation begin to breed without the child even realizing what they’re doing.

Confusion is a basic lack of direction & confidence. When children of a younger age find themselves confused about any major aspect of their life, they’ll withdraw and become reclusive. After all, clamming up and staying silent is better than opening up about something you’re uncertain of and being wrong? Right? Wrong. This attitude grows into early warning signs of quietness, a preference for being alone. Interests and passions are kept secret instead of being explored, spoken about, and shared.

Teenagers growing up feeling confused are normally those who receive constant instruction rather than encouragement from their parents. Initiative is lacking in day to day life, while things like recognition, merit, competition, and measurable success are trivial to a child who is used to feeling confused. Self-esteem is not only impacted by notions of neglect, disrespect, and fear in the sense that most at first think. Confusion itself is a form of fear that shows up as general disinterest, bad attitudes, and insecurity masked as false independence.

Your child may feel disrespected

The sins of others are not intended to be suffered by anyone, let alone those who they are committed against. If your child grows up feeling contemptuous towards those around them without realizing that things like betrayal, lies, and all general forms of behavior that diminish self-respect and trust are actually the faults of another instead of their own. Help your young ones to act independent of the opinions, actions, and effects of others in their lives, and they’ll open up and make more friends as a natural result of acting from a place that’s not invested in fearful self-preservation.

Children who feel disrespected are typically disrespectful to adults, peers and their group of friends. Younger age groups of kids will find it difficult to socialize if they’re constantly offending those around them, or consumed by their own ego. Vanity is a sign that your child is either being given too much freedom, which leads them to think that they’re undervalued, or too little respect. Tantrums, constant demands, pickiness when it comes to eating, fashion, and friends are prevalent.

Teenage kids hold the same issues but begin to show extreme signs of dependence on their parents. With no inherent self-respect, they become unhealthily attached to the parent who is their source of esteem, or rather a lack thereof. A perceived lack of knowledge or incapability due to not having a healthy circle of friends growing up to relate to can breed contempt and general disrespect towards others for the rest of their lives. The problems encountered in high school will persist without being addressed. Childish behavior is also typical to children who feel disrespected throughout life

Make sure that your child is doing well and is not hiding anything from you. Install the Find My Kids app from the AppStore and GooglePlay.

Your child may feel restricted

If your child feels that they are being limited by people, and opinions surrounding them, they will recede into a place of perception that lets them create the «perfect life» without friendships. A lack of friends often simply indicates a lack of subjects or traits to relate to, which is a veritable impossibility. Showing your son or daughter that the mindset, influences, and activities common to the home are not dependent on the habits and perceptions of others alleviates any sense of restriction, but this often takes actionable empowerment rather than basic or complex communication.

From a young age, children who feel restricted begin acting out, which makes it difficult for them to socialize and form a caring group of friends. Abrasive characteristics start to form with a restricted child normally being hell-bent to get their way when the situation arises. Stubbornness rears its head frequently, and as a result, this makes it hard to bond with others. Group play becomes an annoyance when a child who is predisposed with feeling restricted demands everything must go their way.

As children grow older, rebellion becomes a key hallmark of a teen living with a feeling of restriction. Friends may be there but are normally fleeting. Associates will be mentioned, but no lasting connections stick around or be wanted. Feelings of restriction cause kids to begin leading secret lives, refusing to share the details of their doings due to the distance that’s managed to breed between them and their parents. Guilt and assumed guilt triggers irrational actions simply to hide the true intentions or doings of the child.

Ways to help your child make friends

The first and foremost thing that you need to do as a parent is to make sure that your child has ample opportunities to make friends. Just because they’re struggling to relate in their middle school classroom, this doesn’t mean that they won’t flourish in a different grade, music class, sport, or extra-mural activities. Don’t force your child to do anything that they’re not comfortable with, but make sure that you’re there, supplying ample opportunities and support all the way. Here are a few ways that you can help your child make friends.

Toddlers (2-3 years)

  • Take your toddler to public play areas and encourage interacting with other kids & friendships
  • Network with other parents to create opportunities for social interaction at a young age
  • Lessons about communication start at home so make sure that your children see you socializing with your circle of friends and include them in introductions and general group activities

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

  • Practice playdate skills that your child will share with other children, acting them out using role play
  • Host frequent playdates to give your child an early opportunity to connect
  • Teach your child the rules of commonly played games

Middle Childhood (6-8 years)

  • Encourage cooperative games, sports, hobbies, and other group activities
  • Make sure that your child knows the place and importance of politeness, discussing friends and friendship openly
  • Allow your child to sleepover at friends while hosting sleepovers

Are you worried about your child when they are away? Always know where they are and what is happening around them with the Find My Kids app from AppStore or GooglePlay.

Middle Childhood (9-11 years)

  • Avoid competitive games, sports, and hobbies while encouraging those where multiple people work together towards a common goal sharing similar interests
  • Coach your children through complex social situations, emphasizing encouragement and guidance instead of instructing them
  • Encourage more at-home situations where your kid invites a friend over for games, fun outdoors, crafts, a movie or general playtime

Young Teens (12-14 years)

  • Encourage skills development and hobbies that involve social interaction by purchasing the equipment they need (i.e. surfing, skateboarding, biking, cycling)
  • Discuss honesty within friendship and communication, while making sure that they know that you’re there supporting the way that they like to interact with others (i.e. social, sport, clubs, academics)
  • Include your teen in social activities with you and your friends more frequently

Teenagers (15-17 years)

  • Help your teen realize and understand that conflict and conflict resolution is a normal part of relationships and relationship building
  • Plan structured activities outside of school to help ease the pressure for your teen while giving them a day of fun with friends (i.e. a movie, followed by their favorite restaurant or a cookout, and then video games at home)
  • Assist and support your child in getting used to spending far more time with friends than adults while giving them the freedom needed to explore new things (healthy experimentation is crucial)

Tips for parents

If you’re guiding your child towards a healthy social life and doing your best to help them make new friends, then keep in mind that small steps work best. «Exposure therapy» is the key, but it must be done incrementally. If your child is shy, then don’t drop them off a jam-packed outgoing child’s birthday party filled with people. Go get ice cream together at a popular store before stepping things up to gaming at an arcade, or more intimate parties involving a few friends.

Also, children should know how long they’re going to be occupied. This alleviates a lot of anxiety, and sticking to it builds trust and comfort. If you say it’s an hour meet and greet or thirty-minutes alone at a playdate then keep your promise and don’t be a minute late. Trust is a major factor in guiding your child towards the correct decisions and mindset to thrive socially, so never forsake faith in you as a parent in the lure of anything else.

It’s not your job to judge your child, nor is it your responsibility to make friends for them. Keep your comments neutral relating without criticizing and judging as your kid encounters others.

Personal opinions can be scarring, so be careful what you say. Speak openly but positively, staying aware of the example that you’re setting for your child with your own social skills. Ask your child about their life instead of telling them what it should be. It’s all about talking, doing, and sharing.

Keep uplifting & inspiring your kids

Empowering your child calls upon keen skills of observation, and an ability to reach a point of sharing where the things that you discuss reveal far more than they’re saying directly. Aversion and isolation are an excuse to allow anxiety to breed depression and lead many a child astray from their aspirations and dreams. How have you helped your child open up? Any bonding advice that could help another family? We encourage you to share your thoughts, insight, and experiences in the comments below.

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