A problem today about making and keeping friends as a tween or teenager….
Both my children struggle with friendships and social interaction with their peers. We, like many of you have not always had an abundance of tea time invites and children’s party’s to attend. Their awkward, aggressive and uncooperative behaviour in school has ensured other children, and most likely their parents, keep their distance.
As our children get older it often becomes more evident that their behaviour singles them out as different. As a parent your heart breaks for them.
I have a 9 and 10 year old, the oldest being in year 6 and soon he will embark on high school. What huge fears that brings to me, about how he will cope in such a highly stimulating and less protective social setting. Older, bigger children and lots and lots of children, teenagers and on the most previously unknown to my boy. The expectations on how to behave, what’s acceptable and what’s not becomes increasingly more under the spot light. How will he cope?
He has one very good friend whom I encourage contact with as much as possible. I’m aware however that I don’t want this child to feel a responsibility for my son, so we had a new friend over for tea this week. My boy spiraled with a mix of anxiety and excitement at having someone different over, and although it went well, I notice a marked difference in the way he behaved and interacted with the other child. He was skittish, loud, jumpy, rude to me and a big show off. I understood and let it go, trying to guide him a little without getting in the way.
After he was left wired and then a bit deflated as he considered “had it gone well?” “what if the other boy had not enjoyed himself/ didn’t like him any more?”. The evening didn’t end particularly well, so caught up in it all, he struggled to come back down.
Anyway it got me thinking. At the moment I can still extend some influence over how he interacts with his peers, with tea invites and play dates of a fashion. But soon he will be spreading his wings and more importantly his peers will be moving on from this type of interaction. I worry because my son is not ready to go off and do things on his own with a group of friends, hang out in the park etc… I know he’s not yet able to make all the sensible choices which would keep him safe.
So here’s the question, how do we continue to help our children with their social interaction and building of friendships, especially as the become tweens and teenagers?
I would love to hear what you’ve done or what you think you might do in the future.