16 answers

Trouble Making Friends

Hi Everyone,
I really need some advice because the situation with my nine year old son is breaking my heart. He recently told me that the other kids at school refuse to play with him or partner up with him, they tell him things like "that's why nobody likes you" and they completely reject him. I will admit that my son is different from other children and it's hard for him to find things in common with other kids since his interests are unusual for his age. He is fascinated with science and creating experiments rather than playing outside or showing interest in sports and other things that boys his age like to do. I know other kids are interested is science and space, but they also have other mainstream interests that my child doesn't seem to have. I don't know how to help him become more well rounded in his interests in order to make friends and not feel so rejected.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi Everyone,
I wanted to thank you all so much for your great advice. I would have responded sooner, but I was waiting to hear back from my son's teacher about what she observes of him at school, but I still haven't heard from her. I just wanted you all to know that he has made a friend that has actually come over to our house to play and I am praying that he maintains this friendship. I am also planning on putting him in karate after reading up on how beneficial it is for kids, especially those that don't do well in team activities. I have taken your advice and so far I have seen some improvement in his attitude about himself and I am so grateful to you all for that! We still have a long way to go, but I am much more hopeful now. Thank you all again.

Featured Answers

Would it be possible to ask his teacher, if there are any other kids with his same interests, and possibly you could talk to those parents, and have a play date and hopefully you can jump start a friendship. I know its hard and kids can be so cruel, the friendship will jump start itself, my daughter who is in high school now, went thru something similar, some years, 1 or 2 friends, one year no friends, other years 10-15 friends.

Good luck

More Answers

Hi L.,
Is he very good in school, or has really good grades. If that would be the case, maiby you can talk to the school about having him jump a class, so he can be with older kids.
Or put him in the gifted and talented program, where he might have more of a chance to meet someone with his interests.
Could you afford a montessori school? He must also be pretty bored, i suppose. I really love the fact, that you support him
so much, keep that up.


Hi L.,
You know if you are in Lubbock ISD it is an open school district and you can send your children to any school you like. I think you should consider switching your child to a new school where he can make a fresh start with new kids. Good Luck!

Hi! As a teacher of 9 year olds, I have to tell you that kids can be cruel. Have you spoken to the child's teacher about these comments made? If this were going down in my classroom, I'd have the counselor come in for some "bullying" lessons and character education lessons to appeal to the kids humanity. Also, if kids are saying things like that to one another in class, it is reflective of the classroom community. The teacher should be working harder to "bond" the kids together, so that they take care of one another. Are there other kids in the classroom with other special needs (like SpEd, speech problems, glasses, gifted, new to the country)? If so, then these kids would also benefit from some classroom bonding. I would say - talk to the teacher!
Next, I would sit down with your child and discuss how these things make him feel. If they seem to you like they bother him (some kids will act like it doesn't, but you can tell it does), then role-play a couple of conversations he can have with the kids when they say stuff like that to him. Teach him some good come-backs that make the kids soften there approach (nothing rude or hateful, something like: "that's why no one likes you!" your child, "I can see a lot of people like you, what's your secret?" or something.)
Best of luck - this is a bumpy road - help your child gain the tools he needs to navigate through it!

I don't know what to do about the kids at school other than to make sure you son knows not to be bothered by him he is perfect the way he is maybe you can ask the teachers at his school if there is a local group around like a science club when I was in school we had groups like that for math science and drama I forgot the exact name but we would meet do project and even have competitions around the Houston area with other kids just like us and maybe he can make friends with kids like him. Also check the Museum and see the groups they have and get him involved in them.

Would it be possible to ask his teacher, if there are any other kids with his same interests, and possibly you could talk to those parents, and have a play date and hopefully you can jump start a friendship. I know its hard and kids can be so cruel, the friendship will jump start itself, my daughter who is in high school now, went thru something similar, some years, 1 or 2 friends, one year no friends, other years 10-15 friends.

Good luck

Hi L.. my son is the same way but not about science it all animals and other stuff. The teachers don't make it a point to include him? My son 8 y/o is speech delay and he prefers to play by himself but the teacher have always made sure that if he wanted to be include that the other children would include him. Talk to the teacher, counselor or other people at the school. Also teach your son how to introduce himself and how to ask questions. We assume when children go out into the world they will know these life skills but we have to teach them. Try getting him involved in a program that is science geared. At my school they were having a science club thing and I wished I would have put him into it. Ask him to try out for a sport, you never know, Or join a gym and let him try out some other form of excercse. My son hates to ride his bike and go out here at my house because there are a lot of dogs and other factors. But at my mothers big back yard he loves to play and run. And he rides my excersce bike in the house. My other advise would be to just tell him that you love him and he is special. My son don't really have any close friends at school but I know that he is happy because we make it a point to be interested in what he likes. I hope I have giving you some ideas, let us know how things are going.

Hi L.,
I have a 5-yr old just like that. He is obsessed with the solar system and has little or no interest in anything else. He would come home from school every day and say, "Nobody will play with me." It broke my heart! Anyway, we did realize over time that he was very different from other children. We are having him tested for Asperger's Syndrome, it is a milder form of highly functioning autism. Not to scare you, these kids are brilliant, they just need to be taught social skills. Anyway, he is an August baby, so we are having him repeat pre-K. He seems to be taking a leadership role with the slightly younger children. He is much more happy and relaxed. In addition, it is a private Episcopal school and the classes are smaller. The people are extremely nice be/c they are educated in the area of special needs kids. The public school teachers are too overworked and stressed out to have to worry why my son has no friends!

Long story short, I called my insurance company who referred me to a pediatric psychological testing center. They were so nice and so helpful. They knew exactly what I was talking about and were able to request testing from my insurance co, which was approved. After we get a diagnosis, we will be able to work with therapists who know how to treat these brilliant but socially different kids.

Don't lose heart, there are resources for you and your son. He can be both brilliant and socially successful. Blessings and best of luck to you.

I feel for you! My oldest son age seven doesn't have much luck making friends with the other boys at school either. He is different than they are in many ways. First he has OCD (obsessive complusive disorder) which makes it where he hates to get dirty which most boys do, he is a gifted child so he would rather read or do experiments like your son and he also has allergies and asthma which keeps him at times from doing the sports and physical activies with the other boys. My husband and I have been trying to push him just a little bit into situations where he had to socialize with the other boys his age. We started out with Scouts. He loved it because they did do things like experiments and the boys started to realize that even though he is the "smart kid" he is pretty cool and they love having him on their team or in their group because their experiements always work. We have had to make a consious effort to have his friends over for play dates, or invite them to go with us on outtings. He doesn't have a lot of friends yet but he is getting there and the ones he has are great!

Try and get your son into something that interests him that will cause him to socialize with other boys and then encourage him to try new things with the boys he meets there. Good luck!

Good suggestions given so far.

1) Talk with the teacher, counselor and ast principle. If necessary, ask to meet with the special ed/needs people as well..not classifying your son as special needs, but if the kids in the class are being mean and bullying, there are special needs there..bullies need lots of help or else things will get worse for everyone.

2) The science club is a great idea, if the school has one.

3) Check with any local science organizations, see if they have any group meetings for kids or any programs.

4) Get your son involved in Kensedo, Tae Kwan Do, or some form of Karate. This is an incredible sport for several reasons: it develops cross body functionallity which is crucial for effective and efficient body use and brain development. If you son is already brainy, the coordination and physical skill levels may not be as fully developed. Martial arts sports are the few that develop physcial control, mental confidence and control, respect, and self confidence. When your son knows what he can do physicaly, and not to say that beating someone to a pulp with little effort is a good thing, but when he knows how to control his body and just what he is capable of, his fear of bullies will diminish, his confidence will increase, and his comfort level with being a smart boy in a world that values "sport heroes" over intelligence will improve. He will realize he doesn't need to belong or rely on the children who are mean for his reaffirmation and value. He will have it all internally, which will insulate him from the cruelties children often demonstrate. And, when he has the confidence level, his patience and understanding with people who are not as quick intellectually and more reliant on physical strenght will improve, and he will be more comfortable in his own skin and intelligence. This is what we have found with our sons. Good luck.

Where do you live? We are in Pearland. My son loves space and science and is 8 years old. I would love to have them meet and hang out together if you are interested and if we live close enough to you. I am sorry kids are being so mean to your son; that makes me sad. Maybe my son coud be his friend since they share similar intrests....my son isn't much into sports, either. Anyay give me a call or email back if you are interested. J. ____@____.com

When I took custody of my brother, we had just lost our mom. I immediatley got him involved in sports since he used to be an extemley overweight child. We tried baseball and he didn't like it, we tried soccer and he didn't like it, we tried football and he was in heaven, he made several little friends and his confidence grew like you wouldn't believe it. I suggest (since it's all I know did good for him) getting involved in something where he is having a group of friends, wether it be any sport or a club where he can develop his skills. Good luck!

Dear L.:
Are you sure you captured all the reasons? If so, try to turn them into strengths. Your son can say 'If you let me play and show me how to yada yada yada, I can show you some cool experiments. I can even tell you how it works.' If he is not interested in playing, you may take him to a playground and say 'Do what you want for an hour, Mama is reading now and doesn't want to be disturbed.' A bored 9-year-old will likely play rather than sit on a bench.


I would look into some after school programs. At the school where I did my student teaching, they had a Mad Science after school program. See if your school has something like that. If they do, he will not only be involved with something he loves, but will also meet other kids that share his interest. One more thing that you could try to SportBall. It is a program designed for kids to learn about different activities associated with moving and coordination. Maybe your son feels uncomforatable in those situations and just needs a little confidnece. I don't know too much about how to contact the SportBall people (they came to my pre-school) but I think it would be something to look into as well. Hope some of this helps.

Kids are brutal to one another. Don't take it persoanlly if your child is not making as many friends as others. He will find his groove and meet others with his interest in time.

You got some good suggestions, and I just wanted to add my 2 cents about martial arts. I also have a brainiac son, who has had trouble making friends, and I think sports have helped him socially, more than anything else. He enjoys almost all sports, so that's not a problem. But he hasn't been great at all of them, which has caused stress and frustration. Since then, we found jui-jitsu. It's incredible for the body and mind - wonderful for a thinking kid. I love all martial arts, and jui-jitsu is somewhat rare to find instruction, but I also feel it's the best as far as mental strategy. And I cannot stress enough, how martial arts increases self-esteem and confidence.

Good luck and God bless,
M. B

My son is only 3 almost 4 and I might also have that problem when he starts school, My son is very much into bugs and snakes then he is his ABC's. I would encourage your son to be whatever he wants to be no matter what. Kids are mean and cruel and will say anything!! Maybe you should try and look for a club or special activity for him to do that involves stuff hes interested in...

Hi L.,

I feel for you and your son. It is heartbreaking to think about your little guy not having friends to play with at school. My son has a friend who had a similar experience and they've resolved it quite nicely I think.
1. Speak to the teacher about it. Ask her if she can talk to the class about being friendly with others, that everyone is different, special, etc., and also how hurtful it is to be excluded.
2. Give your son opportunities to bond with other kids that LOVE science like him. The Cub/Tiger Scouts has a FABULOUS Science program. Invite them over to play.
3. Allow your son to bond and form friendships with other boys who he likes, and whose mother you like, and make a point of phoning, going out together, keeping in touch, etc. Cultivate this bond. Even if your son's friend is a bit younger than your son, it doesn't matter one whit. So long as he's got a friend outside of school who is his buddy.
4. Enhance his interests in Science by checking out the NASA Web site together, planning a trip to NASA, doing hands-on Science experiments at home (kitchen science), invite a friend over so they can do kitchen science together.

Don't worry, if you enhance his self-esteem through Science, and encourage his friendships, it'll all work out. By next year he'll have a buddy. Also, make sure you encourage him to be physical as much as possible, through sheer repetition -- short bike rides with you (training wheels or an "extension" -- these are great) and going to a skating rink. Stay positive, and don't be afraid to invite others over to play. If you stay positive he will too.

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