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My son is different

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Casual scribe

My son is different

Hi Guys
I’m concerned about my son
He never wants friends over for a play and always wants to leave social gatherings. He doesn’t talk about his peers and during the school holidays will never ask for a friend to come over. He says sometimes he will sit alone at Lunch time at school as he doesn’t like what his peers are playing.
I know kids like him but he doesn’t seem to welcome the friendships.
He said he’s un happy with school and unhappy with his friends.
He isn’t your typical boy.
He’s not rough and doesn’t enjoy tackle football or soccer . He’s intelligent and has a beautiful caring nature. I’m not sure if I should I take him to see a Psycologist or not.
He is definitely an anxious child and has some worries (maybe general anxiety)
Would love to hear if anyone has had a similar situation.

Prolific scribe

Re: My son is different

Hey @jbrowne

I am so sorry to hear that both you and your son are working through such a difficult time at the moment. It can be extremely stressful when our children are struggling with some of the tougher parts of growing up, especially when it comes to stuff like friendships and supports. It might be helpful to visit a GP with your son, as you'll be able to talk through everything that he's going through and get a professional opinion on what could help the situation. 

Another thing that could help is asking your son what he would like to happen, or what he would think make him happier. This could give you a bit better of an idea of some of the underlying reasons as to why he's avoiding some of the other kids, or even give you the opportunity to talk through some solutions that you could implement to help him out. 

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: My son is different


It's difficult isn't it?  I, too, have a child who has had/has difficulty maintaining friendships, and it hurts my heart. 

It would be one thing if you knew your son was happy; some children/adults are happy and content with their own company and may have less need for peer interactions.   However, it's very hard when you know your child is unhappy.  I could arrange play dates for my daughter when she was young, and she would appreciate and have fun during these play times. But, that's not really possible when she became a teen, and it was difficult for us watching her anxiety creep in (it's difficult for her to build confidence and initiate plans with friends; she mulls over social interactions and often feels embarrassed that she has said/done the wrong thing...and so on).  


Is your son involved in any extracurricular activities that would build on his interests?  Is that a possibility?


How old is your child?  Is he in grade school or high school? Have your son's teachers/school counselor expressed concern?


I do want to add a note that it's very encouraging that your son talks with you about his unhappiness.  Clearly, you care about him and he feels safe expressing himself with you.  That is so very important. 


Please post again soon.  

Star contributor

Re: My son is different

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Hi @jbrowne , 


I really related a lot to your post - I am also a parent of a child who can be quite anxious at times. It can be hard as a parent knowing what is just someone's personality and temperament, and not wanting to push them into being someone they are not, and knowing when to intervene. 


One piece of advice I was once given was that if things are affecting their everyday life, or interfering with their ability to do the things that they want to do, then it could be time to get things checked out. 

Some kids may just be naturally more solitary, or kids may be wanting to play with other kids but feeling really anxious about it - you say that he has a beautiful, caring nature - those are wonderful things, and he sounds like a lovely kid. 


In our case, professional help has been really valuable in helping our child to build a toolkit to help them with some social anxiety and general anxiety that a professional assessment picked up. There is so much more awareness these days around anxiety in kids, and programs like "Cool Kids" can be really helpful 


Do you think that is something you'd be comfortable to look into? 

Star contributor

Re: My son is different

Hi @jbrowne,

With the school term a few weeks in now, I just wanted to check in to see how your son is coping with the return to school? How has he adjusted socially to the new school year?

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Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: My son is different

maybe not as different as you imagine. My boy came home nearly every day  2yrs ago,telling me he didn't really have any friends at school. Because there a mobs of kids around his age in our street, and they are often out and about as it is a pretty quiet street traffic wise , so you actually see them playing outside.I thought I would try to encourage him to make friends in the street. Limited success with that, he made a good friendship with a nice kid  a few doors down only to have it peeter out as that boys elder brother often wanted to be included .I have tried him with football and basketball and tae kwon doe and surf life saving . Now I have come to realise whether at school or in any group situation he just doesn't do well and shuts down and makes no attempt to listen or participate.But one on one he is brilliant. If he doesn't have to share his friend ,male or female, he is fine . In a group he goes to pieces. He will only suggest one friend to me to ring up and come over to visit. If I ring up other parents and ask them , their kids are generally only too happy to come and play and he loves to have them here. So I am, like you playing by ear to see what works. He is very kind, shares within reason,  tells really funny stories and has a ton of empathy for people in sad or difficult situations . For a short while I tried a psychologist  for him who was hopeless. Later  tried again with a young graduate who talked his language and he could relate to. But that and the cost of private tuition to try to get him up to speed at school and the ongoing costs of separation and divorce , the child psychologist visits have stopped.Luckily he trusts me enough to talk to me and it's as people like to say, a work in progress . I will continue to watch this post in the hope of gaining more insight for myself ,so please continue to post so we can both read any replies.

Casual scribe

Re: My son is different

Yes very good idea
I’ve booked appointments with Gp and psychologist. I’m hoping it will help.
I’m also considering sending him to a smaller school where he might feel less overwhelmed in the playground.
Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: My son is different

Hi , if you go through gp you can get up to 6 free visits psychologist per yr via medicare once GP puts a mental health care plan in place. I discovered regardless of how well recommended they are if your son doesnt feel comfortable with one after a couple of visits try changing. Sydney responded much better to the 2nd one. As to smaller school that may help as well . My son has generally been happier in the last 2 months and he has stopped his compulsive hair twirling and nail biting since his mother made an effort to regain his trust. He no longer has to play second fiddle to her boyfriend, so he doesn't dread his week there after his week with me. All progress is good progress.No two kids or situations will necessarily be similar but from what I've seen with my boy a few little things have added up to good results in helping his self esteem and confidence. However he still is challenged when it comes to making friends and being in a group.My next job try and get him to listen to his teachers at school. I wish some genius would publish a Parenting for Dummies Book, ha ,this parenting caper is harder than it looks. Finding those little things to bring about changes , seems to be about asking questions, sorting through the answers, perseverance ,common sense ,blended with a big helping of luck. 



Star contributor

Re: My son is different

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Hey @sidneysdad , 


Thanks for sharing what you've found useful with your son and your experiences. It sounds like you're such a caring and engaged parent. 


I think your advice about finding the right psychologist for your child is also spot on - having someone who they 'click' with is absolutely vital to the whole therapeutic process, and what works for one kid may not work for another. I also have a child who's struggled at times with high anxiety,  and sometimes it has felt like a lot of baby steps, but looking back I can really see how far she's come. 


Does your son enjoy school overall? 


I think a true parenting for dummies book would probably make billions of dollars ! But to be honest, I also think that parenting strategies can be so highly individual, and what works for one child may not work for another - which is probably why so many books continue to be written! 


I do find some of the material on the ReachOut Parents page really helpful, and the Raising Children Website has been really helpful for myself with slightly younger kids - I have the preteen page bookmarked at the moment ! 


But I also learn so much from other parents, and I wanted to say thanks so much to you for all of the advice and support that you provide to our community Smiley Happy 


@jbrowne  please keep us posted with how you're going with your son - it sounds like seeing  a psychologist will be a really positive step for you all. It's so hard when we're worried about our kids Smiley Sad I know several people who have ended up moving their kids to a different school, and though it's not a simple fix, in some cases I think that having a child in an environment/ peer group that's a better fit for them can be a really good move Smiley Happy 

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: My son is different

This is so hard and heartbreaking to think your child is lonely or struggling.

It is ok for your boy to be alone - not lonely- but solo. Our's didn't prioritize friendships until senior years and still doesn't have a strong group of friends but we encourage him to be strong and happy to spend time with himself. At times, it worried him, but he can still fit in when needed and loves time to be alone as well. Remember, even loners can change the world.

We did ensure he always had a handball or basketball to take to school and a book to read. We didn't push sports but it is important for boys to be part of some sort of team so ours did scouts where he learnt group skills but could still work at his own pace. 

Ours is anxious and struggles with change but we did a lot of work on social expectations/etiquette, explaining the difference between shy and rude. It helps to know what the social routines are so they come automatically and boys can spare thinking for the big stuff.

Everybody excels at something. Everybody needs to excel at something. So maybe you can find something that gives him joy or a feeling of success. Music? Art? Volunteering? Writing?  Animal Shelter? Kids want to feel valued not only by their families but by the greater community. This will help him find positive ways of building self-esteem and exploring self-identity. It gives him a topic of conversation and positives to build on. 

Sorry I haven't got time for more but wish you luck. It does get better. We never imagined our son would be where he is today. 

Big hugs.


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