• Other Friendship Advice

Concerned mom worries about her lonely 7-year-old

Published: June 4, 2016 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
How can I help my 7-year-old son feel better about school and his friendships?



My wonderful 7-year-old old boy comes home from school sad and angry. He says that no one will play with him. It breaks my heart. I ask if he asked anyone and he says that he has and they all say no.

My son is funny and smart yet stubborn. He feels lonely. I do not know how to help him. He is an average, wonderful kid. It has been hard to make play dates outside of school as both my husband and I work. Not to mention, I am kind of shy and so it feels awkward to ask people I do not know to bring their 7-year-olds over for a play date.

How can I talk to my son and make him feel better? Could this be temporary or should I worry about longer term?

Signed, Concerned Mom


Dear Concerned Mom,

No mom likes to see her child come home from school feeling unhappy so your concern is understandable. It’s great that your son is able to tell you his feelings, that you are listening and that you want to help.

A few suggestions:

1) Speak to your son and see if you can get any better sense of why the kids at school don’t want to play with him.

2) Make an appointment with your son’s teacher to find out why he is having problems connecting with other children at school. His teacher should be able to provide you with valuable insights into what’s going on in the classroom and on the playground. In addition, you can brainstorm ways together to help him make friends, both in and out of school.

  • Is she aware of any behaviors of his that are off-putting?
  • Are his social skills appropriate for his age?
  • Does she think he should be evaluated by a guidance counselor or psychologist at school?

3) Can you set aside some time each weekend to create opportunities for your son to socialize with other children (perhaps cousins or neighbors)?

4) Do you think your son might have any interest in participating in sports or scouting? He’s just about the right age to participate in team activities like baseball or soccer, many of which are scheduled on weekends.

5) Would your son be interested in inviting any children from his class (or his grade) to your home for a play date on a weekend afternoon? If so, could you manage to reach out of your comfort zone to arrange the meeting with the other parent?

6) Do you belong to a house of worship that has special programs for children in the congregation?

7) Are there any afterschool programs in your community where kids can play and hone their social skills?

Maintaining a dialogue with your son and reaching out to his teacher are essential to address this problem. Perhaps, one or more of the other ideas above may resonate with you (and him) as well.

If you still seem to be struggling with this problem, you may want to talk to a mental health counselor about your own shyness and its possible effect on your son’s friendships.

My best, Irene

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships, Helping children deal with friendship problems

Comments (6)

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  1. JR says:

    I know that my son had gone through similar issues. For him it took him time to adjust since he was an only child. For the first several years he was alone, but he eventually grew out of it.

    One thing that I would strongly suggest for a parent is that if their child is suffering in that kind of situation, consider enrolling them in a good martial arts school. Drag them there…participate if you have to, but get them to get accustomed to it.

    My son didn’t want to go and when we went I had to go through everything with him. He was six at the time. The next day we went again until he started feeling comfortable. It was literally the single best thing we did for him.

    He always struggled with allergies and stayed in most the time. Abnormally smart, and very uncoordinated. That program has changed his life. His co-ordination is great, his athleticism has increased…and his confidence in himself is high despite being the tiniest little fellow around. He’s confident in who he is and is not afraid to hold his ground. Not to mention that everyone respects him since he’s almost a black belt in Jujutsu’s lol.

    Find a good school and put them in there, you will be so happy you did.

  2. Jared says:

    I want to start out by saying that I used to be just like that 7 year old kid.

    I blame most of my childhood lack of friendship on my inability to play sports.

    It’s not that I didn’t want to play sports, but I had no one to teach me how. The few times I played basketball for example, I did not know the rules. When I asked the other guys the rules, they made fun of me.

    I can’t stress enough how important it is for boys to play some sport. Boys often judge each other based on their strength and skills on the field. Being competent in a sport leads to being accepted and included.

    Even as an adult, men usually made friends not by sharing their feelings and/or through discussion, but instead by enjoying a common activity.

    • Camille says:

      Wow Jared I want to give you a hug. Your words ring true. My son was like you, didn’t play on team sports, just a occasionally with some boys in the neighborhood who were much better at football and basketball. he’d come home and tell me that no one would throw the ball to him. It hurt me just as much him. He persevered. When he began high school he realized how much liked to run and joined the cross-country and track team where he could play and enjoy the sport individually and as a team mate. He also felt like he found somewhere he excelled and belong. He has made some friends but he’s still a bit of a loner. However he’s strong enough to accept himself just as he is and so will any potential new friends.

      • Jared says:

        Camille, I appreciate your kind words. This is one instance where my hindsight made the problem more obvious. I’m glad your son is doing better than I did. It’s very important to find a place where you belong, even if you prefer to spend some time alone.

  3. Victoria says:

    Both my husband and I are full-time working parents with demanding jobs and I commute. Having our kids in after school programs was actually very helpful for our family. We used the program offered through our school. Our kids were able to find playmates there. Other things that we did to help our lonely kids connect were the following:
    1. Visits to local playgrounds on the weekends
    2. Visits to the local library on weekends (kids area)
    3. On occasion (when time permitted) we visited our neighborhood playground during the week after work.
    4. I started a Meet up group online to connect with other working moms in my area who had kids my son’s age. We would meet a couple times a month.

    Those things helped me find more opportunities to meet other moms on weekends. It gave my kids (especially my young son) more opportunities to meet kids that he could connect with. My daughter is 5 years older than my son and could make connections at school on her own. My boy was very young and and needed more support from me to find friends.

    Good luck finding a good solution for your family…

  4. Amy F says:

    I think you’re right to worry and take proactive steps to help improve the situation. He shouldn’t be coming home sad and angry from school daily. Of Irene’s list, talking with his teacher is probably the best way to determine how to move forward with him. Teachers are experts on the behaviors and social,skills of kids in their class, so she should be able to give you ways you can help coach your son. If there is an area for concern, try role playing social situations with him using stuffed animals or action figures to help him practice difficult situations and new skills.
    As for your shyness and discomfort setting up play dates, using a dialogue such as ,”Joey has been asking if Matt can come for a play date. I’d love for you to stop in for coffee/tea while the boys are playing.” The more you put yourself out there, the easier doing so becomes. Since your son needs some help developing friendships, pushing yourself beyond your comfort level will probably be necessary.

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