Social concerns about 13 year old son

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Casual scribe

Social concerns about 13 year old son

Hi everyone,


I am new to this group, and I am here to see if anyone has any suggestions.I have a 13 year old son who vehemently resists going to school at least once a week because of the way his "friends" treat him. He is essentially ignored at school all day long and hears them make plans, watches them walk off together in a big group (often walking around him), and sees them post photos of their time together. The kids he has been friends with since kindergarten no longer want to have anything to to with him. We have also witnessed it from home. He will reach out to multiple kids to socialize, but they all come up with excuses or cancel at the last minute. The effects of this are awful on our son. He is a social person who truly needs interaction to feel good (I know, that's an issue on its own).


To make matters worse, we are friends with all of the parents of these kids, and much of our social time has been spent in family groups, but that has stopped because it causes so much stress for my son (and me!) when it's obvious the kids don't want to be here. I have broached this topic gently with a couple of the parents, but it hasn't helped. They don't know what has happened to change the relationship. 


We have encouraged him to seek new groups of friends, or even just one kid alone, but his attempts have failed, partially because many kids already have established groups, and also because his confidence is so low that any resistance from someone else shuts him down. 


He is in a constant depressed funk. It's absorbing me too - I can feel the weight of it on him all the time and I am very concerned about him. We've been on a waitlist for six months to see a therapist, but I am not optimistic as he has made it clear that he will not talk to anyone about this.


How can I boost his confidence and help him to understand that these kids do not determine his worth? He has many other great things going for him, but he feels like he is nothing.




Re: Social concerns about 13 year old son

Hey there @Jupiter - wow six months is a very long time for a wait! Must be a very popular therapist. Have you heard much about kids helpline? They work with 5-25 year olds and could be really good in the interim for him in terms of gaining some support from a qualified counsellor. They have web chat as well as a phone line (1800 55 1800). 


In terms of your encouragements as well as gently speaking to other parents, you really are on the ball and very proactive in wanting him to reconnect with some good friends and feel inclusive. It's a very awkward shift for many teens as the groups chop and change. No doubt with time he will find his place in it all, but it is painful in the process and must be heart breaking for you. The low confidence for him is understandable and he is certainly not alone, many kids feel disjointed and displaced during the jump from year 6 - year 8/9. I am going to tag some of our parents to get their insight for you to see if they have any ideas on how to help your boy.


@sunflowermom @Orbit64 @Caz01 @hippychick @gina-Ro 

Prolific scribe

Re: Social concerns about 13 year old son

Hi @Jupiter

Could you find an interest or activity he could join that is completely separate from school?

A sport, activity group, scouts, other interest groups of some kind? With some advanced coaching before he started with a new activity, he could build different relationships to give him some confidence.

I developed a strong interest in outdoor activities at that age, with a completely different group from school and friends. So it is like a fresh start.
Frequent scribe

Re: Social concerns about 13 year old son

Hi @Jupiter my heart goes out to you, it's so painful as a parent to watch this happen to your child. This is the age my daughter started having problems. Social media just makes it worse when they Snapchat where they've been. I agree with the previous post sorry I can't see atm who wrote it about joining a group outside of the school and also a sports or social group within the school as it can get him to make friends outside of his normal group. It's definitely a hard time as these kids are little fish in a big pond now and some kids can be mean and nasty to boost there own popularity . I agree too long to wait for a therapist. Google some in your area and make a few calls to see how long the waiting period is, it would really help. Do you have a dog? My daughter benefited greatly from getting a dog and will be more confident when she is out with her. You can also go to off leash dog parks where dogs and people can socialise. You sound like you are caring and supportive Jupiter I'm sure you will all get there soon. Good luck x
Casual scribe

Re: Social concerns about 13 year old son

Orbit64, you're right about the extra-curriculars. We have signed him up for some sports, so hopefully he will engage in them and start to socialize with others. Unfortunately, he resists going because he just doesn't have the energy. I think he's quite depressed, which makes everything feel like a huge effort for him. Thanks for commenting. 

Prolific scribe

Re: Social concerns about 13 year old son

Hi @Jupiter


We have some close family friends with a daughter that was really socially awkward for a long time. She struggled to bond with people that she did not know well. The toughest thing was for people to firstly get to know her. 


They managed to find a counsellor / coach who worked with her to develop all those social skills in meeting new people that help someone starting out with a new group. Maybe this is an approach you could take with your son? Some coaching in how to approach a new group, say a team or a new group. 


Just food for thought.