Sept. 6, 2021

Ask Margaret - My Kid Doesn't Want to Spend Time With Friends

When a kid is spending a lot of time alone and seems disconnected from peers, it is tempting for us to swoop in and try to solve the problem. But the better approach is to offer perspective and support to your teen, and be a “safe landing spot.”

As parents the thing we want most in the world is for our kids to be happy. When we see one of our kids spending a lot of time alone and struggling with friendships it's natural to worry but it is also important to resist the urge to swoop in and solve it.

If a child seems depressed or extremely isolated it is time to involve a therapist. If, however, a kid is going through a spell where they are struggling in more typical ways (especially with middle school or high school friendships) it is important to remember two things:

  • Keep your emotions out of it and don't dive in - remember not to throw out a ton of questions and "helpful observations" which might make your struggling kid feel singled out

  • Set kids up for success by making sure that you are a safe space for them to share information. Make family meal times and outings a non-negotiable routine and an opportunity for you to share your perspective and advice about friendships in general without putting your kid in the hot seat.

It is your job to be the safe space for your kids. Especially in times of turmoil, be the island of safety from which your kids can navigate the rough waters of growing up. All kids will face tough times in their friendships and they need your grown-up guidance but they may not need you to take control of the situation.

Margaret cites this article in this episode.

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