• Keeping Friends

My 8-Year-Old Son Has No Friends At School

Published: April 2, 2014 | Last Updated: November 2, 2021 By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
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A mom worries that her son has no friends at school.

QUESTION

Hi,

I am worried about my eight-year-old son who constantly complains that he has no friends at school. Last night after quizzing him about how many of his 22 classmates like him, he responded that only one did and that was himself.

It worries me terribly and I am really concerned for his social well-being. I am not a very social person myself but he does not know this because he sees me constantly socializing with my co-workers and neighbors. He is quite talented and does well in all areas of his life except the social aspect of it.

I have suggested to my husband that we should get counseling for him, but he thinks the situation does not warrant it at this stage.

Please advise me on the way forward.

Signed, Joannie

ANSWER

Hi Joannie,

If you are shy by nature, there is a good chance that your son who has no friends at school may also be shy.

The first thing I would do is to talk to your son’s teacher to gauge her observations about his social maturity and skills. At his age, the teacher would be one of your best resources. Her feedback will help you figure out if there are issues that need to be addressed.

If she observes certain behaviors that are off-putting with his peers, or if she suggests that he tends to be shy, you can enlist her support and obtain her advice about how to approach things. The school guidance counselor could also be a good resource to help identify ways to help your son improve his social skills.

Reading your letter, I also wondered if perhaps self-esteem might be an issue for him. Perhaps he feels unpopular but kids actually do like him. Eight-year-old boys often socialize in groups. But if he is shy, he may be more comfortable being with a friend one-on-one.

Why not ask him to invite a classmate to your home for a sleepover or to go to the movies and see if he can make a friend that way? You can observe their interaction and see if the boys seem to be having fun.

While professional counseling is always an option, I’d hold off until you find out if there is indeed a problem and what the issues are. One way to judge whether a child needs therapy is based on his/her level of discomfort.

  • Is he sleeping and eating normally?
  • Does he seem to enjoy school and home life? Can he experience fun?
  • Is he anxious or depressed? Does he take pleasure in activities?
  • Is he angry or aggressive?

Whatever the case, he’s very fortunate to have your observations and concern and I’m sure with some coaching, whether from the school, personnel at his school, or an outside professional, he can learn the skills he needs to have a successful social experience.

Signed, *Amy Feld


*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.


Read other posts about kids’ friendships on The Friendship Blog:

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (10)

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  1. Tanja says:

    my 7 yr old, almost 8 is having the same problem. At first I thought, we will get him out of the french immersion school and put him back into the regular school, where he went to kindergarten. His sister will start school there in the fall. So, I thought, it would be nice to have them at the same school, although she will be in the kindergarten pen. However, the more I observed with social interaction, the more I think that this problem will follow him. The only good thing perhaps, is that now he is in a class of 17 kids and in the other school, there will be anywhere in between 23 and 30, so more people, meaning, at least one other kid may like him.

    See the problem with my son, is that he is very sensitive. So, he over reacts to things that are just jokes or accidents. He also likes to do things his way and he will not budge for someone else (bit bossy). He is such a creative kid and he goes into his fantasy land, which I admire about him. So, sometimes even if I do invite kids over, he may go into his own world and not let anyone else in. At first, I thought since he still does parallel play, I had him checked. He is perfectly normal, no autism or anything. So, I enrolled him in a drama class. he loves it and does not withdraw into his world but follows the instructions and has a great time. He is anxious, meaning he bites holes in his shirts. He can not stay still when you are talking to him, he has trouble looking you in the eye. He is afraid of authority and he handles anger inward. So, he does have self esteem issues, which I wonder where he got them. His dad has no friends and is like that as well, but when he does meet people he can have a conversation, he is a project manager, successful. I am quite shy but everyone friend or so we have had over is through me inviting them. We do not get invited much out by others to dinner, but that is not because of us, that is the area we live in. people are just more closed here and have their great, big families. We have a family of 4 and in this area, most people have 3 or 4 children. So, they may just not want all the people and kids running around, but they always accept my invitations. This year, i am tired of doing it so I don’t.

    So, my advice is get him into after school programs, give him a support network and if you need to, change schools and start over.

    • Gayathri says:

      Hi Tanja, I am also facing the same issues that you described here. My 8-year-old son is same as your son. He doesn’t have many friends. He is very sensitive and takes his friend’s silly remarks as serious.He likes to follow his own direction so it makes him difficult in team activities. He is a good boy with empathy and honesty.He doesn’t like kids who lie and bossy other kids. He always complains about his school. I am having a hard time to cope up with his problems.I want him to enjoy his school life and have good friends. As you told, I used to invite people to our house so that he can socialise with other kids. But these people are happy to come to our house but won’t even bother to invite us back. Now I am fed up with this idea so I tried to take him out during weekends and holidays . I am thinking if you are from Singapore we can meet up some day. Since our kid’s character is almost same may be they will make a good friendship.

  2. Daniela says:

    Please do not ask your child how many kids in the class like him!!!!! I can’t be the only person who saw this red flag.

  3. luna says:

    My 8 yr old has the same problem as did his older sister, I drive by the school yard and see him just walking around alone,I want him to enjoy school so he would want to go.It was hell with his sister to the point of her almost not graduating I dont want to go through this again.Any suggestions hes already scheduled to play football this week.

    • Shanae says:

      Hi,my name is shanae my little brother is 8 and is very shy at school he wishes he had friends but every time he trys to make one he gets made fun of. I was thinking what would help is getting him an Xbox so he could play games and make friends and he did. He wasn’t so shy anymore and if course I talked to his teacher about it. But he wasn’t shy anymore so I hope thus can help you to Luna for both of your kids.

  4. Jarod says:

    I feel so bad for this boy because in many ways I still feel like him. Does this boy play sports? If not, that can be a big problem because that’s how most boys socialize and judge each other.

    When I was a kid, my father never taught me to play sports, so I never played them in school. I have so much regret about it now because most of the boys hung out with other guys on their teams. I an older male had mentored me or taught me how to play ball back then. Boys and Men will rarely hang out together for the sake of it; there has to be an excuse like to watch or play a game or drink beer.

    • Jarod says:

      I meant to say “I WISH an older male had mentored me back then and taught me how to play sports.”

  5. Eliza says:

    This truly touched me…since growing up-I was never the popular little girl…was told I was “weird”…why? Because I wasn’t a sheep, a follower–or because I didn’t necessarily do what everyone else was doing…that is, enjoy MacDonald’s, for instance. I was different…into art, music and somewhat introverted, yet introspective–for a child. For a kid, it’s important to be “liked/accepted”–it’s human nature, so I agree with the advice above, encourage your son to march to the beat of his own drum…not easy to do at his age–but he will come ahead, and others have and form his friendships with like-minded kids. Sometimes, a very bright child is ahead of his peers, and is more selective in choosing his friends.

  6. Sandra says:

    My heart goes out to you. My son (who’s now in his late 20s) had similar problems throughout grade school. It broke my heart when I saw him left out of games and other activities, or heard him call himself a geek or nerd (terms that weren’t as cool back then). He was very bright, and not interested much in sports — which branded him unfavorably, sad to say.

    Like Amy suggested, I would invite other kids in your neighborhood to come over, and I got my son enrolled in scouting and other activities that brought kids together. Luckily, I worked from home with a flexible schedule, and could help make this happen. I also got very involved in his school — which helped too.

    By late middle school, my son had formed close friendships with a small but nice group of boys and girls — not the popular kids — who’ve remained friends ever since. My son graduated with honors from an ivy league university, but most important of all, that small group of friends he made in middle school helped him learn how to form other friendships in college and on the job. My son now has a great job, a lovely wife, and still sees his old pals from middle school. (They’ve all done very well too!) My son still calls himself a geek, but a proud one.

    Keep encouraging your son, but allow him to be who he is. It’s hard to convince children that popularity isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, especially in these times. But hang in there and have hope.

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