25 answers

Social Anxioties for Children

My son just turned 12 today.He has the hardest time making friends and is very antisocial. I have enrolled him in Karate, he attended for 2 years, he did not make one new friend, he had no real desire to go, showed no competitive nature and droped out. I take him to new functions to meet friends his age and he stays off to himself. At family functions he plays off to himself and doesn't play with the other children. I thought he was to tied up in his playstation and Nintendo DS so I limited his time and stopped it from going with us at outings. There has been no change. I have spoke to his counselor and for 2 years she has advised it will come with time. I am very concerned. He has such a hard time fitting in and the only 2 friends he has ever made are not at all like him, have stolen from him, and continuously begs him to give them his belongings. When I ask why he wants them as friends when they do him that way he just says, "It't them for friends or no one because no on likes me. I would like a mother's point of view who has had a child who may have gone through this also. I will take any suggestions anyone may have.

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That sounds like my son when he was 12, when he was finally diagnosed as highly functional autistic. He is now 15 and doing much better. We took him for social skills training through a counselor with other kids for quite awhile. I agree with others that you should seek a diagnosis and have a complete physical done as well. It could also be that something is making him not feel well, like a malfunctioning thyroid of something. You never know.

Have you tried rewarding him for being social at family functions? Practice with him ahead of time what you would like for him to try, like greet certain adults and then reward him with some Nintendo time afterwards. If he experienced some success at things like this, he might be willing to try it on more occasions.

An amino acids supplement seems to have helped my son recently, http://www.supernutrient.com/Autism/index.php. They say he is really opening up at school with other kids.

Good luck.

M. -

I have a 12 year old boy also. What you are describing is my son as well. My son has been diagnosed with high functioning classic autism. I use the book Social Stories by Carol Gray to help my son develop social skills. Social situations make him very anxious and uncomfortable. However, has greatly improved with a vew tools like the social stories.

Here are a few links that might be of interest to you..
http://health.yahoo.com/nervous-symptoms/autism-symptoms/...

http://www.amazon.com/New-Social-Story-Book-Illustrated/d...

You can reach me at ____@____.com

Best Regards

Jenn

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Oops! Sounds like "Single Parent Syndrome" to me! Join the club, my friend. Me too, and I don't know how many others. :( Your son's temperament is classic to this syndrome.

I raised 2 boys (now in their 20s) and have sisters and friends, with the problem also. In fact, the USA is overrun with it, if you want the truth. Unfortunately, the key to solving this little dilemma, is the very thing that isn't there: a strong male influence.

That's what you need to get, and get QUICK -- Either a divorced dad (rent-a-dad?, hey! what a great business idea!) or at the very least, a "Big Brother" program...SOMEBODY to spend some time with him (consistently) that is a strong male influence, and NOT playing Nintendo or computers or TV.

While taking away the Nintendo won't make your son have more friends, it WILL make him do SOMETHING besides avoid reality. He needs physical activity and he needs to be around good male role models, ESPECIALLY now that puberty is getting ready (or has) to rock n' roll. Some kind of physical club of boys? What are his interests beside computer stuff?

Please -- A big MUST to read for all parents, but especially single moms:"WHY GENDER MATTERS" by Leo Sax

Good luck!
C., RN

1 mom found this helpful

M. -

I have a 12 year old boy also. What you are describing is my son as well. My son has been diagnosed with high functioning classic autism. I use the book Social Stories by Carol Gray to help my son develop social skills. Social situations make him very anxious and uncomfortable. However, has greatly improved with a vew tools like the social stories.

Here are a few links that might be of interest to you..
http://health.yahoo.com/nervous-symptoms/autism-symptoms/...

http://www.amazon.com/New-Social-Story-Book-Illustrated/d...

You can reach me at ____@____.com

Best Regards

Jenn

this sounds very much like asperger's syndrome...it's a form of autism...maybe do some research, and see if he might have a lot of similarities with children with asperger's...

There could be many reasons for your sons behavior, but just because he is different one can't automatically assume that there is something "wrong" with him. He could be suffering from Asperger's or another form of social anxiety, and you should certainly check with his Pediatrician and possibly a Specialist to ensure that is or isn't the case. It could simply just be a case of being different and there is nothing wrong with that. I am not what you would consider a social butterfly, never have been. I was pretty much a loner throughout my school years. I have very few people I consider friends, but those people are genuine, honest, trustworthy friends whom I could trust with my most sacred thoughts and feelings. Sometimes less can be more. If he has a strong male figure in his life that's great, if not, check into a Big Brother program or something like that. Most importantly make sure to tell your son how special he is and how much you think of him, nuture his self esteem :)

I would schedule a meeting with his counselor to discuss your concerns. Additionally I would have him evaluated for depression and/or other issues. Good luck.

Have you tried finding a male mentor/positive role model for him? Is his father involved in his life? I know that some children are late bloomers, and you may want to seek the help of your church for advice on ideas of how to get your son involved with other boys that will be a good influence on him. Continue to love and encourage him. Let him know how important and valuable he is to you, to help him build up his self esteem. Help him to learn how to like himself and encourage him to say positive things about himself on a daily basis. I have a son who was challenged in the past with some of the same issues. He is 17 now, still somewhat quiet and shy at times, but he is a very smart, bright boy who tends to need encouragement to be his own man, his own person and make good decisions. I am confident that he will be just fine. He is well liked, handsome, but a bit introverted at times. He is graduating from high school this year, and I expect a continual positive transformation of his personality and character into his young adult years. Every child is different, so it is important that you talk with your child, continue to stay involved in his life, pray for him, and expect God to honor your prayers. I look forward to hearing good news about his transformation in the coming weeks!

God Bless!

Hi M.,

Your son sounds exactly like my 13yo Lora. She has Aspergers Syndrome. This is a high functioning type of autism where the child is totally lacking of social skills. They truly do not understand how to connect with others. Since they have no social skills, they are sometimes so desperate they'll tolerate "friends" such as your sons that steal from him, etc. It's definitely worth looking into. Hope this helps.
Pamo, Beckley, WV

Hi M., I am so sorry to read about your son's situation. I am a counselor but most of all I am a mom and I can relate to you because my daughter had similar simptoms that your son when she was younger.
I would suggest for you to first have his pediatrician just to check that he is in excellent physical health. Then I will take him to be evaluated by a psychologist to rule out depression or any other quemical imbalance and there I will have him evaluated by a Mental Health provider to rule out autism.

Also, please consider that since you are a single mother he is missing a male figure in his life who will help him develop his self-steem and do boys things. A mentoring program would be appropriate to look into.

I am sorry to add more things to your list to do, but you sound like you really want to help your boy and I commend you for that.

By the way, my daughter was diagnosed with autism and now she is receiving therapy for socialization.

Lucy

Hi M.,
I didn't read through every response - just skimmed them - so you may have already heard this...

I noticed several moms suggested Aspergers or Depression - and your son's symptoms could suggest either - so those are two avenues to explore. The internet is a wonderful tool - look up childhood depression and look up Aspergers and learn about them.

Then change counselors. The wait and see approach is lazy - and isn't counseling. You should seek a child psychologist with experience dealing with children with depression or aspergers (or at the very least, experienced in counseling children with the same symptoms as your son).

I'd like to point out for everyone's benefit (since I read a post saying to avoid psychologists because of meds) that a PSYCHOLOGIST can NOT prescribe medication - they are therapists. A PSYCHIATRIST can prescribe meds. Your son's psychologist should be giving him exercises to help with with the social issues. Something small like saying hi to everyone he makes eye contact with. I was diagnosed with Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety - so I have done these exercises and they help over time.

Other mom's suggested a mentoring program through church or Big Brothers. Excellent idea! You didn't mention a father figure, so a male figure may be just what he needs. I actually just signed my own son up for Big brothers because he needs that kind of role model (Im also a single mom and my son's father lives 900 miles away).

Oh, and your son's "friends" aren't friends at all. Remove them from the equation if possible because they aren't helping him any. He's going to expect that people will only like him for his things or what he can do or give them and that's not healthy. No friends really is better than people who take advantage of someone else in the name of friendship.

Your son sounds depressed. He may never be the most outgoing kid, but he shouldn't think no one likes him and not even play with his own cousins. I would say he needs a different counselor, for starters. He may need some type of medication as well. And he needs to work on building confidence- try asking him if he'd be interested in signing up for guitar or swim lessons, things he can do on his own with just one adult so that he can feel like he's mastering something without the social aspect coming into play. You might also want to consider finding him a mentor through church or Big Brothers Big Sisters, someone he can look up to and talk to who's not family or paid. ALways let him know that you love him and aren't disappointed in him, though. You may have hoped he'd be prom king but that may not be in his cards, and your negativity towards his personality isn't helping. Good luck, get him some help ASAP.

Sounds a lot like my son who is is now sixteen. He does not have tons of friends but the friends he has are good friends.
I did limit the "NoFriendo". I also insisted that he find a sport which turned out to be Karate. No, he is not the truly competitive bully type but he is competitive with himself! But that took awhile. To me that is actually way more important! I really would prefer that he did not want to wack other kids, but to have his karate be perfect is fabulous.
I also made my kids learn to cook. This is another area where you become your own competion. I do not mean to push a company but Pampered Chef has some great kid friendly recipes. My son also has chores that he has to do and he has started helping his dad with home and car repairs.
So what does this all mean. Conversation. Confidence. And in a way bragging rights. When Dad goes on business trips I end up with a house full of kids that my kids are cooking for, and they are showing off there bedroom floors, the faux finishes on the walls, the spices planted in the yard and the fourteen hundred dollar Porsche - yeah it works. Even the hokey-ist things can become confidence builders. Our best ice breakers have been Cookie decorating - every holiday has one. Also Christmas ornaments. Again, every holiday has an ornament to make. This takes some planning on your part but it was totally worth it and they and there friends talk about all the crazy cookies and ornaments they have made - and the messes, who did what. Now, they have shared experiences that are no "NoFriendo".
I found a children's book that always makes me laugh and gives me that patience with my son - Leo the Late Bloomer. I was lucky, I found this book when he was three. I have even brought it to his teachers. Once I remind them and myself that not every child wakes up on Monday knowing how to read or what not, but that eventually he does master what ever, people back off as to what is expected and when. The next thing you know, you got a really great kid, because they are not so stressed out because you are not so stressed out.
You are in a perfect position to have him help you with the double households. I know as parents we want our kids to be kids but at the same time our job is to create functional adults. Have him help you. sure there is always resistance - Do it anyway. At the end of the day you will both have a feeling of a job well done! And that is priceless!
Good luck!

Hi M.,
I agree that it might be aspergers. My 9 yr old was diagnosed this year with ADD - having trouble with focusing and they ruled out full blown autism, but not aspergers, we totally believe that is what it is with him, when I read your post, I saw my son in it too. Ask at your school if they have any social skills training classes with a school psychologist, my son is in CMS and they do that at our school, it is only once a week but it is something. I say also to keep trying to find an activity for your son if karate did not work out, my son is not at all into sports so he said he wanted to try bowling and believe it or not, he loves it and there are other 'special needs' kids like him in bowling - it was very interesting, they really gel well there for some reason. Keep at it finding him new interests and friends, it is tough, I know, but just keep the faith that he will find someone soon with your help.

M.,
My heart goes out to you and your child as I have two sons. My older one is 7 and is extremely outgoing so I am not well versed. My 2 year old will have different experiences. He is not as social and has a temper, so I may have some hard days coming to me in that area.
First off, I want to commend you for having him in counseling. I think you should definitely continue that process. Are you and your son part of a church family? If you find a loving church, many times children's activities are more welcoming and so are the children. Be careful, some churches I have found to be very clique"ish". I am at a wonderful church now and my sons love it too.
I have my older son in karate. I was going to suggest it. It does build self esteem, but if he doesn't like it then there is no point in forcing the issue.
From your perspective, why do you think this is happening? You sound like you have a full plate, but also say that you love to spend time with your son. It sounds like he is fortunate to have such a loving mother! Do you feel it could possibly be the relationship with his father? You didn't speak about that so I don't know. I do know that a relative of mine recently divorced. They have one son. He is in counseling too. He is with one parent one week and vice versa. I think he feels torn between his parents.
Maybe somewhere deep inside your son doesn't feel he is likable and lovable no matter what anyone may tell him. This would be something the counselor could explore. Some children are also just more introverted. If you could pinpoint some things that he loves/likes to do maybe you could find a group of children who were much like your son with the same interests. (book club, etc...)
I will pray for your son and you. It is good to get a handle on this now and not wait for the teen years as these types of problems get bigger.
I just thought of something else. If you found something he seems to excel at and let him explore it, it could only boost his self esteem.
Let me know how things go. I have a heart for hurting children.
Blessings,
S.

My father Is a Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and I have seen him do wonders for children with anxiety and/or no self confidence. His consultations are free and its worth a try. This is serious hypnotherapy( not stage) and truly helps to address the issue. He helped me stop smoking 5 years ago, and I am blessed to have a father as intelligent and caring as he is. If your sons behavior continues give him a call. It cant hurt. ###-###-####

That sounds like my son when he was 12, when he was finally diagnosed as highly functional autistic. He is now 15 and doing much better. We took him for social skills training through a counselor with other kids for quite awhile. I agree with others that you should seek a diagnosis and have a complete physical done as well. It could also be that something is making him not feel well, like a malfunctioning thyroid of something. You never know.

Have you tried rewarding him for being social at family functions? Practice with him ahead of time what you would like for him to try, like greet certain adults and then reward him with some Nintendo time afterwards. If he experienced some success at things like this, he might be willing to try it on more occasions.

An amino acids supplement seems to have helped my son recently, http://www.supernutrient.com/Autism/index.php. They say he is really opening up at school with other kids.

Good luck.

Hi M.,

After reading all the responses and suggestions to see if your son needs medication I need to please encourage you and anyone else reading this to PLEASE be very careful about putting your child on any medication or taking your son to see a psychologist. Please watch this video and you will see exactly what I'm talking about. Good luck and best of health to you both! T.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=1KlQ9957kR0&feature=related
and visit www.cchr.org

Hey M.,
Are you in the lancaster area? I have a 12 yr old son who would love some new friends.He has some of the same troubles you mentioned with other kids.Wanna get them together? A.

My oldest had like 2 friends AT MOST until he hit 8th grade. Then he became more aware of himself, more social, and started going out more. Before then he wouldn't hardly leave the house. I did take him to some counseling during 6th and 7th grade, but he was anxious about a traumatic event in his life. I can't say for sure that it helped with his social anxiety, but maybe it did. High school came and it got even better. He's getting ready to graduate, and he has a great big group of friends that he hangs out with all the time. I wouldn't worry too much. Keep encouraging.

I would talk to a psychiatrists about this. Sounds like the problems are deeper than you know and it really doesn't sound like it needs to be ignored. I would worry if it were me.
If you don't do something now, you could have all sort of things stem from this, one being teen depression and even suicide. Go find you a good psychiatrists and go talk to him yourself first before you take your son.
I wish that I could help more.

Hi M.! Sorry to hear about the social issues with your son. I agree TOTALLY with some of the other ladies and would strongly suggest you taking him to a child psychologist. Be very careful though as I recently had my child tested for Aspergers and the psychologist tried to say it was ADHD when in fact she freezes up when she is made the center of attention. At Duke Children's Hospital they suggested the social skills training for her in conjunction with speech (for her) and just speech alone has made a huge difference. Good Luck and I hope all of us together have helped to guide in some direction!

have you had him tested for Asperger's? just a thought since he is displaying social difficulties

My brother was like that until he was in high school. He just had different interests then most kids and took awhile to meet kids that liked the same things he did. I wouldnt worry too much right now. Just try and do as much as ya can to build up his self esteem. Keep encouraging but do not push.

I'm not reading this as social anxiety--I'm reading this as something deeper. Have you had him tested to see if he falls on the autism spectrum?

I'd find a different counselor--just that it will 'come with time' is a cop-out on their part, IMO. He should have some work to do after each session to build friendships and I hope you know that the two 'friends' you wrote about are far from it--they are simply kids that tolerate your kid to take his things and on top of that, it sounds like he knows they will only be 'friends' by giving them things. That is not healthy.

I have a 12 year old (and a 15 year old) and I can tell you from being around them and their friends and seeing how things work in today's school environment--your son is going to be sad and lonely for a lot of years if he does not get proper therapy from a strong advocate and that just doesn't sound like what you've got from the brief note you've written.

Aspergers would be something I'd very pointedly ask the ped about ASAP and I'd find a better therapist, too. The counselor you have now is just not responding appropriatly, IMO.

Hugs--I know this can't be easy for you--or him.

This may or may not be what is going on with your son ...

My son, who is 10, was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome two years ago. Aspergers is a form of autism, sometimes called high-functioning autism, which in the case of my son, is characterized by a lack of social skills. My son, who is very sweet, is extremely bright--he just made Principal's List--but his social skills are not very good and he has a lot of trouble making friends.

I have seen him play with children he doesn't even like just to have someone to play with. It is really heartbreaking to watch your son being hurt by other children. My son also plays computer games, Wii and X-box games sometimes to the exclusion of anything else.

I don't have many suggestions to offer, but Aspergers can be diagnosed by a child psychologist and some offer social skills training.

Good luck to you.

Hi M.,
WOW our son's are so much alike that their birthdays' are only one day apart. Mine turns 16 today and he is just like your son. He's really never had more than one or two friends and likes to keep pretty much to himself and play on his Playstation. I think some kids are just loners by nature. I, too, have worried about him not making friends easily. He also tells me that no one seems to like him. He's also not interested in outside activities and will not sign up for any extra circular activities at school. I did put him in a mentoring program and that has helped him some out of hos shell and become more social, but not at all as much as I would like. However, since he has discovered girls he really has changed drastically. My advice would be to keep encouraging him, but don't allow the friends he does have to continue to take advantage of him. They do it because they know he will not do anything about it, but you might have to step in of the boys continue to steal from your son. Also, give it some more time. As he approaches and enters puberty and once he discovers girls things will change. One more thing, as I said, he sounds a lot like my son and one thing that he does is when he falls for a girl he gives his entire heart, right away. He's been hurt so much already because kids change boyfriends and girlfriends at this age regularly. I would try and discourage him from falling for the first girl that looks at him completely head over heels. I know that it is so hard for me to watch my son get his heart broken week after week.
It's all part of growing up, I know, still it's very hard to watch.
Good luck, M.. As I said, keep encouraging him and try and expose his to as many people as you can. But ultimately, you have to let him be who he is and it sounds like he is, like mine, just a loner who enjoys hos own company.
Please contact me if you would like to talk.
J.

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