20 answers

What Is "Normal" 7-Year-old Boy Friendship??

My son is 7 and in second grade. He has struggled since the beginning of kindergarten with making friends at school (mostly when it comes to befriending other boys), and I am trying to determine why. Here is a bit of information about him and his "friend history": he is not into typical boy stuff... doesn't like action figures, Star Wars, transformers, etc. We have tried numerous times to involve him in typical "boy" team sports, such as soccer, but he is just not interested. Because of his lack of interest in these things, it seems it is difficult for him to interact with other boys on the playground. He does have a passion for basketball (only when just shooting baskets... not competitive,)biking and competitive swimming, though, so it's not that he dislikes all aports. He is extremely creative and would love to spend his days inventing things and exploring the world in his own way... he is not interested in using toys in conventional ways; for example, a microphone on one toy will be disassembled and taped to some legos to create his own version of a radio. He is average when it comes to academic skills, and he is an average-looking kid, so I don't think he is regarded as different in those ways when it comes to his peers. He is not overly friendly when meeting new people, so I think he loses opportunities because of this. He is not mean and does not hurt others... he just sort of fades into the background. He says that he often does "nothing" at recess or just plays "by himself". I think other kids would say he is a nice enough kid, but he has developed only one "good" friendship with another boy, and when that child is playing elsewhere, my son just shuts down and doesn't attempt to play with others. He does, however, tend to hang out with girls more often than boys. I am happy that he has so many "girl friends", but I think it's important at his age to become "one of the guys" and also have some good guy friends. I worry that if he doesn't build those friendships now, he will eventually be left out and potentially ridiculed for it. A couple of the girls he knows also invited him to be part of a "club" where they tell him who he can and cannot be friends with, and this troubles me.

So I guess my questionas are: does anyone else have an experience like this? Is it normal for a boy to behave this way? Am I overly concerned? Should we continue to encourage him to branch out or just let him figure it out on his own? I don't want to be an overbearing, controlling mother, but I also want him to be on the right path with building and keeping friendships. Any help anyone can offer would be most appreicated.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I am overwhelmed by and extremely thankful for the amazing responses you all have given me. I can't thank you enough! You have helped me by offering great suggestions, but more importantly, it is so reassuring to know that so many of you have experienced something like this with your own children. Sometimes we (my husband and I) feel so alone in this, and it's hard to ask our friends for help, so it's nice to be able to come here and get honest feedback.

one suggestion iven by several of you was Cub Scouts. He actually did participate in Scouts in 1st grade and will be starting again in a couple of weeks. It has been a great experience; however, his good buddy... the only boy he really hangs out with.... is also in scouts, so it seems he has not really made the effort to get to know anyone else. His den leader is a wonderful lady, though, and per someone's suggestion, I am going to ask that she help me in guiding him towards building other friendships.

Wanted to write more bu my 2-year-old found me. Hopefully, I can say more later...

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It sounds like you are describing my son. He is now 12, but he's very much like you are saying and has been that way for awhile. My son is ADHD and has some other stuff going on as well.

He is very much into Star Wars, Legos, doing his own thing, taking apart toys and making them into something else. He also is not a fan or sports... I tried to get him headed that direction at a young age and he was just not interested.

He's had a hard time making and keeping friends. He's finally at the age though where he has found a few good friends. For the most part he still would rather be on his own but he's wanting to hang out with other friends more.

It might just take some time.

I'd love to talk more if you want.

Jill

what about Cub Scouts? that might be a good environment for him to both show off his creativity and engage with other boys. I would also arrange play dates with one or two other boys - he may need to get know kids in smaller settings.

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J.- He's still young. I think if it were me I would let him figure it out on his own. If you make a big deal about it then he WILL feel like he's different. I think any friendship should be encouraged, so if it's girls he enjoys right now so be it. He will eventually figure it out on his own. Maybe you could host a back to school party inviting girls and boys. Maybe on his own turf he'll feel more adventurous....
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

J.,
I am going through the same thing with my son who is in 3rd grade. He is into technollogy and games and really hasn't found that one friend who he can connect with. This school year I changed his school hoping that would help and it is still to early to tell. One thing I have done this year with him is before school I tell him a question to ask one boy in his grade level. Today's question was "what is your favorite show" When he gets home he then tells me what the kids favorite show is and they end up talking about alot more things that just shows.

Another thing to remeber is maybe your son as well as my son are comfortable within themselves and are alright with sitting and don't always need someone to entertain(sp) them.
I hope this helped
C.

1 mom found this helpful

You just described my husband to a T. He gets along great with people much older then himself. In fact he was considered one of the "adults" at family parties by the time he was 7-8 years old. His own grandmother, as she got dimensia would remember him better than her own sons and called him "son". His friends now are our parents age. He was always taking things apart to either see how they worked or create something better. His parents would make him put those items back together. Because of this, he is very good mechanically. But he can see things three dimensionally in his mind and see how they work and should be put together. My husband did not like competitive sports as he did not like to hurt peoples feelings.

I would not discourage your child from these traits. He will be very successful in life if you give him his "space" in play. He is probably average in class also, because he is bored! He doesn't see the "why" so he does the bare min. to pass the class. My husband his senior year missed more days then he attended. Walked in on days of tests, and passed the tests better than his class mates. The only reason he did not get a 4.0 was because he never did any assignments. So his grades reflected that of his tests.

He is currently a V.P. and making twice what any of his (or my) family members are making (including is parents put together). He is extremely successful because now he has his "why" are works very hard at it! He is also very successful with are kids and he relates to them better than most any one. He helps them see the purpose in school...and they are excelling better than either one of us did!

As long as he does not seem depressed or upset. Than encourage him to find his own happiness...something I have learned in life is there is only one person who can make you happy and that is you! So don't push him to have lots of friends, he doesn't really need them. All my friends ended up being back stabbers any ways and I played with my own siblings more than any one else.

Every child is different. My first boy played with toys in a very similar fashion as yours, and my second boy also likes sports (the first didn't). With my first son (and shy daughter) I asked the teacher to please pair them with a kind playmate (in sitting inside, at lunch, and when it was time to play) to help them figure out the social thing. With my third child (the second boy) I asked the teacher to please sit him with obedient *girls* because he has better self control with girls and will be less distracted. Back to the 1st boy.. I also requested from the counselors office thay he be included in a "making friends" type of class when he was a bit older.
The school has tools to help you, and a sensitive teacher can guide him in making friends if you let her know. In the meantime, I would trust that he is "normal" and facilitate where you can, and make sure he has a great self-esteem based on what he enjoys, not what groups he joins.
GOod luck!

It sounds like you are describing my son. He is now 12, but he's very much like you are saying and has been that way for awhile. My son is ADHD and has some other stuff going on as well.

He is very much into Star Wars, Legos, doing his own thing, taking apart toys and making them into something else. He also is not a fan or sports... I tried to get him headed that direction at a young age and he was just not interested.

He's had a hard time making and keeping friends. He's finally at the age though where he has found a few good friends. For the most part he still would rather be on his own but he's wanting to hang out with other friends more.

It might just take some time.

I'd love to talk more if you want.

Jill

I have a kid like this. She NEVER complained about lack of friendships. Sort of an artsy & creative free spirit; good physical shape but not into sports; good musically but doesn't want any more lessons; kids like her but she's happy to be alone.

When she was in early elementary school, I used to ask the teachers to set her up on the playground with another similar kid who might also be playing by themselves. That worked okay (it broke my heart to know she was alone on the playground).

When I switched her to a Christian school, that helped a little bit too (got reports back from several different new kids that the girls were much nicer there than at the public school). That has definitely been true; she's been there 3+ years now.

This past summer at age 13, I encouraged her every few days to telephone one of the girls she sat with at lunch last year. She would visit one of these girls (or girls from church) about once every ten days, plus enjoys youth group. This was her first summer ever that she really, truly had kids her age to consistently play with. (The girls on our street who are her age are snotty and manipulative--I actually find their behavior shocking.)

Again, she's totally likable, but these more passive, creative kids are NOT the kinds portrayed on any kid show. The children nowadays are taught to be aggressive and flock to aggressive kids. Look for art classes and chess clubs and boy scouts. He will click and flourish eventually. Your son is adorable, and you will eventually be grateful about his creativity (I'm not saying your not grateful now) and much more relaxed about the direction it takes him in life. Blessings to you!

Hi, J.-- I wish you lived closer so we could get our seven-year-old sons together! I really relate to a lot of what you describe, so please don't feel your child is some kind of odd-ball. It ripped me up last year when I asked my son what he did at recess and he said he kicked the frost off the curb by himself. He is settling in better now, but he is still selective in his peer interactions and learning to be less awkward. Here are a few things I've learned:
If the child is OK and not unhappy, then things are OK. It's important that I not try to project my own social anxieties onto my kid.
I have several friends who homeschool their children, and while my family does not homeschool full-time, I like to create an atmosphere of learning, so I've read a lot of homeschooling-angled books. One point that is often made is how unnatural it is to be in a large group of children who are all the same age. Some people believe this typical American classroom set-up is pretty much a bully factory. In a mixed-age setting, the older kids help the younger kids, but in a same-age group, children who are confident or dominant may take over and boss around the less-assertive children. This sounds like it may be happening with your son and some girls--second grade can be a time of major social development for girls especially. If he is a generally nice boy and doesn't tease or play rough and is good at imaginative game, he may fit right in to the girls' games and accidentally become a victim to their social games when things go sour. Just be sure he knows that while it's not OK to be unkind, he doesn't have to play with anyone if he doesn't want to, and he doesn't have to limit his friendships at someone else's request. He may also benefit from some time spent with older or younger children so he can teach younger ones how to do something and learn from older ones. Look for another family you can have family events with to appreciate the mixed-age group and build social skills and confidence.
I like the recommendation of Cub Scouts--that will be great when he turns 8, since that's when it starts. They do a lot of small building projects and crafts that your creative son may love. They also practice some public speaking skills by telling jokes and such.
My sons are enrolled in gymnastics classes and they love it. I love that my seven-year-old is in an all boys' class that is taught by a man, so he has a chance to be "one of the guys." He has enjoyed it so much, and it made me realize that nearly every other aspect of his life is run by uppity women! ;) I'm usually with him, his school and church teachers are women, his dance and swim teachers are women, and so on. His dad is his soccer coach and is a wonderful father, but it's good to know a few more guys, too. He loves gymnastics since it is more a competition with himself to do his best and improve; same with swimming and dance at this age. I figure, as an American male he's going to get a ton of competition introduced to him as he grows up, so there's no need for me to push it if it's not his thing just yet. Although--my son has loved AYSO soccer camps during the summer since the British (male) coaches are so fun and enthusiastic.
Finally, you might really appreciate the book "Hold on to Your Kids" by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. This book really reassured me. Neufeld talks about the all-too-common phenomenon of "peer orientation," when children and teens shut out all healthy adult role models and become fixated on their peer friends. It's common, but it's not healthy and leads to risk-taking behavior. That book helped me remember that it is OK for me to filter my child's social life a bit, and that he is so well-connected to his family that he has very little attachment energy left for peers he may simply not relate to just yet. . . and that's perfectly healthy, shows security and not an indication of social awkwardness in the future.
Perhaps your son would enjoy a play date with another boy if there was a project to do, instead of just free play? You could bake cookies or make paper airplanes or do a science kit together.
Consider having a family night with another family, so your child can play with another boy while both families are having a bbq. Having family around could help him stay comfortable and allow you to offer support as needed. Maybe some games or a fun project, like packing up a box to send to a soldier or hygiene kits for a homeless shelter. You could take your son shopping for the componants and then let him help explain to his friend and friend's family how to pack things up.
You are not overbearing or controlling--you sound wise and intuitive and loving. Best wishes!

Hi
I am in the similar situation.My son turning 7 next month is lonely at school.When we have friends over he just fades in the background and kids come and mess up his room and walk all over him.He is just timid and shy .
He doesn't have any friends at school and one day told me that nobody wanted to be his partner in the daycare after school and so he doesn't want to go there anymore .It broke my heart.Sometimes he tries to get attention in a negative way like disrupting the class and the teachers have complained.I know why he is doing that but I don't know how to help him.
My husband told him he will get a gift if he goes and talks to a new kid every day or makes a friend.But still not much improvement.
He doesn't like soccer .He loves to paint and draw .Every day since Kindergarden i dread what the teachers will complain from school.
I just don't want him to grow up and have pshycological problems.
I tried setting up playdates with other kids in class but the mother just wasn't interested.Maybe she thought her son will get bored with my son.
My son has no friends .

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