Sept. 19, 2022

Ask Margaret: My Son Doesn't Have Any Close Friends. Is That a Problem?

If your kid has lots of acquaintances but no close friends, is something amiss? Is it time to pull out the conversation cue cards on the playground? Margaret explores different reasons that kids may not have close friends.

This week, a listener asks:

My 10-year-old son is friendly, outgoing, and very accepting. He is also really interested in sports. He has a lot of acquaintances in both school and on his teams, but has no one I would call a best friend. He doesn’t get invited to a lot of birthday parties and rarely is asked for a play date, although the neighborhood kids will knock on the door and ask for him to come play a fair amount.

He has ADHD and can get a little overly silly and/or annoy kids (I suspect). But he has not expressed any dissatisfaction with his social life and does not appear lonely, so I don’t want to project my thoughts and feelings on him, but is his lack of close friendships a concern? Is it something we should work on, perhaps social skills?

I have never had a lot of acquaintances but have always had a few close friends. My friends changed throughout school but I always had a small group of close friends. Again, I know he is a different person than I am, but I don’t want to miss a sign of something that is amiss. Thoughts?

Margaret suggests that if your child isn't expressing dissatisfaction with their social life, it's perfectly alright to leave the matter alone for the time being. There are things that can get in the way of a child forming close friendships, as discussed in the Huffington Post article linked below, and approaching the situation by modeling appropriate behavior yourself is the best course of action.

This could look like a social skills class for your child, which Margaret found helpful with hers, or it could simply be practicing polite conversation, reading social cues, and asking others about their interests at the dinner table. Social skills are something you can get better at over time, so don't sweat it if your kid doesn't seem to have it down pat yet.

Here is the link to the article Margaret mentions in the episode:

Samantha Kemp-Jackson for the Huffington Post: When Your Child Doesn't Have Friends, Here's What To Do

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