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 is for our children to be happy. When we see one of our kids spending a lot of time alone, and struggling with friendship,s it's natural to worry. But it's also important to resist the urge to swoop in and attempt to solve those problems.

If a child seems depressed or extremely isolated, it is time to involve a therapist. But if a kid is going through a spell where they are struggling in more typical ways– especially in the middle or high school years– try to remember:

  • to keep your own emotions out of it. Don't dive in to your own reactivity.
  • not to ask a ton of questions, or offer "helpful observations" which might make your struggling kid feel singled out.
  • to set your kid up for success by being a safe space for them to share information. Make family meal times and outings a non-negotiable routine. They're an opportunity for you to share your perspective and advice about friendships in general without putting your kid in the hot seat.

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, but they need our grown-up guidance more than they need us to take control.

Margaret quotes this article in this episode:

Barb Steinberg for Your Teen Mag: My Teenage Daughter Has No Friends

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