• Other Friendship Advice

Six-year-old struggling socially at school

Published: August 31, 2016 | Last Updated: August 31, 2016 By | Reply Continue Reading
A mother worries that her six-year-old isn’t making friends.



I have three children, ages 9, 6, and 4. To give you a little background, we sold our house in New England, moved to Florida for eighth months and then moved back to New England, but to a different city.

I worry about social issues with all of my children but my six-year-old has me the most concerned right now. To start off, he had open-heart surgery two years ago, when he was four years old. We did not know he was born with a congenital heart defect. We are very blessed that it was found, but I feel that he hasn’t been the same since then.

He never went to preschool, so he didn’t get the social interaction prior to kindergarten that most kids get. At the end of kindergarten, we moved to Florida, where he made the cutoff by five days. He was in a large school and just seemed to shut down. I know it was a lot for him in one year. He did not seem happy.

So, we moved back to New England. We are in a different city, but where my husband grew up so he has family here. My son is still a very young first-grader. He seems happy, but his teacher has told me she has worked hard to cultivate friendships, but they aren’t taking off. He doesn’t get invited for play dates. Also, he has a lot of attention issues and can’t focus at school, which is causing him to fall behind.

I don’t know what to do. I have been looking for solutions to help him, but I can’t seem to get anything from the teacher or the pediatrician. Socially, he just doesn’t seem to be making any real connections. I worry over time this will affect him more. Any suggestions as to where I should start? Thank you in advance for your time!

Signed, Maria


Hi Maria,

I think you’re right to be concerned. Your son is fortunate that you’re attentive to his academic and socialization issues.

Although some children experience difficulties when they are academically unchallenged, it sounds like Adam’s issues may well be related to everything he’s been through with surgery and moving.

As for socialization, I’d ask his teacher for her opinion on how your son can improve or develop his skills. If he’s close with his older sibling, perhaps you can ask your eldest to help him out. Sometimes extracurricular activities like group sports, scouts or classes like karate teach social skills through play and help build self-confidence.

Have you discussed the possibility with the school of keeping your son back one grade? He would be among other kids closer to his emotional age and have a better shot at academic success, which might reboot his attitude about school.

If his teacher feels his attention difficulties are interfering with his ability to learn, you might also consider having him evaluated by a child psychologist, either within or outside the school system.

Good luck.

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.

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Category: Helping children deal with friendship problems, OTHER ADVICE

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