My 6 Year Old Has a Hard Time Making Can I Help?

Updated on June 29, 2010
S.H. asks from unknown city, unknown state
10 answers

My 6 year old will be going into first grade in the fall and has a difficult time making friends. We go to birthday parties and he often plays on his own. He plays on various teams (soccer, baseball, swim) and talks to all the other kids but when they have free time to buddy up and play he does his own thing. We went to a baseball party/bbq recently and while all the other boys were playing catch and getting ready for a team/parent game my son was off by himself running through the sprinkler. He says he loves baseball so it's not like I am forcing him to be on the team. It's by choice.
At first I thought he was choosing to play on his own but he has said to me many times that he tries to play with the other kids but they just won't let him.
Sadly, I must admit, he can be a bit obnoxious. He is a very touchy person and has a hard time keeping his hands to himself. Nothing creepy or anything, just trying to be playful, but I think it's irritating to others.
How can I help him with this?

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answers from Eugene on

Get him into a gymnastics class or Karate. I had similar problems with one of my children. A therapist suggested that once she knew where her body was in space coupled with the discipline of the classes she would improve. She did. I took her three days a week to gymnastics which did give her body confidence and personal discipline. She made friends.

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answers from Hartford on

Too bad you are all the way in WA, because I think my son and him would make great friends :) I know the heartbreak of having the solo kid. The good news is he will figure it. And he will find other children who are like him and make friends. Try yo set up one on one play dates so he can start bonding with other kids one on one.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Personally, I would talk to your son about his behaviors that you see as potentially annoying to other kids. If we're at a play area, and I see my son being too touchy, I pull him aside and tell him like it is. Sometimes kids don't like to be touched and if you do that, they might not want to play with you. Then I send him right back out there with a "have fun and go play." Or if he's acting like a goofy, scary monster, scaring or putting off the little girls, I might jokingly tell him they're being 'fraidy cats' and he needs to go easy on them... and he gets it and changes his behavior for the situation. (This just happened yesterday, btw, at the McDonald's play area.) But sometimes he doesn't get it on his own. He needs me to coach him, if you will. I think it's important to let kids know what things are annoying because sometimes, they just think they're trying to engage other children, when in fact, it's backfiring.

I also think there are just some kids who are more sensitive to being accepted. What I mean by that is that there are kids who seem oblivious to the kids around them 'wanting' or 'not wanting' them to play. They just mix right in, and go with the flow, and have no idea that they were wanted there or not. And sometimes, that attitude helps the kids to accept them, kind of like, "well, he's here, so we might as well include him." But some kids are much more keenly aware of being invited or accepted into a group to play. These kids, on even the slightest hint of not being invited into a group, even though in reality, would probably be accepted just fine if they just mixed in, will avoid the situation altogether, rather than risk being rejected. For those kids, it's harder to 'just blend in.'

I'd say to arrange some one-on-one play dates for your son. And use those times to coach him on limiting 'annoying' behaviors... And I'd also continue to build his self-esteem with positive activities, etc., continuing to encourage him to engage with other children, and reassuring him that he's liked and wanted as part of the group.

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answers from Sacramento on

Mom, I would encourage you to set up some play dates with children on his sports teams that he seems to get along with the most.. You may want to sit down B4 the play date occurs and tell him in a calm, nice way that other children don't always like to be touched a lot by other frends and encouage him not to do this as much at the play date. When he and the child get together be sure you are there to observe and supervise reminding him if he falls bk into the habit of touching a lot to keep his hands to himself. You may also want to see if there are any play groups in the area for kids his age and join one. Moms stay for play groups and you can be there to watch and encourage him to do the same, not be so touchy. If it continues to be a problem that he is not making friends early on in 1st grade sit down with his teacher and see what she is observing why he may not be making friends (don't tell her the reason you feel he has problems with making friends) get her opinion as a neutral party..

You may also want to get this kid's book about personal space, what it means and why people need it for your son too : Personal Space Camp, by Julia Cook

It is available very reasonably at new and used; there is an activity book/ journal to go with it if you want. Hope these ideas help

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answers from Seattle on

Isn't it wonderful that kids aren't all cut from the same cloth, that they don't come from a cookie cutter?

I think it's great that your son likes to be by himself at times, he can entertain himself and doesn't need a crowd to be happy. He plays on various teams, so he can be a team player, can get a long with others.

You say he's touchy. Maybe he's a child who loves to cuddle and have contact. Give him his daily dose of physical contact at home, make time for that quiet time with him. Some kids don't have that interaction at home and they can't stand to be touched. Their loss. You say he's obnoxious, that's more than touching... so what about his behavior is irritating besides the touching? Is this his problem or the other kids'? Let him make his own friends, ones who share his adventures, his likes and dislikes. Let him play by himself if that's what he wants. That's not a bad thing. Maybe he likes watching baseball more than playing it. My youngest loves the Mariners, knows all their stats, can't get enough of them... but to play the sport...nope. He's a swimmer, an ultimate frisbee player, golf, a distance runner. He's 7 yrs old, let him develop his own interests and he will be a happy kid, a much happier teenager and ultimate adult.

Enjoy each moment. Time goes by so fast.

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answers from Eugene on

I would start by letting him watch you on how to talk to his peers. Do some role playing on how to make a friend. If he knows one kid who seems to be friendly with him, talk to the kids mom and see if you can arrange a play date and work with him on those skills. My daughter has autism and daily I have to give her the words on what is okay. She has come a long way in the three years since we found out. She is now six and has a good number of skills, but still is hard. She does not get the social cues that we tend to take for granted. So I would work on showing him how to make friends. Hi, my name is Lilly, would you like to play trains? and then show him how to play. Watch him as he plays and give him the skills he might not have. Oh, we need to give your friend some space. He does not like you to be so close.. Those kinds of things..Good luck!

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answers from New York on

i like what leah suggested: try to initiate and organize one on one playdates in your own territory meaning home, thatw ay he should feel more comfortable. see how it goes. if it goes ok, organzie another one with someone else, and then rotate between 2-3 kids until you see him completely comfortable. do talk to him about touching and that he shouldn't do that (i don't mean he shouldn't but i also find people are uncomfortable with touching, plus we as parents always talk to our children about not allowing anyone to touch them). he's 6 i assume so he should understand when you talk to him about that.
good luck

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answers from Las Vegas on

Find some friends from school and/or his teams that can come over for a 1:1 playdate with your son. At school or when he is playing with his team, your son may feel a little lost and a little akward in the pack of boys. He may be better at developing friendships when it's just him and one other kid.

Also, just in a very off-handed and casual manner, when you are talking to him about school and what's going on his life, coach him on things he can possibly say to the other kids that will help him develop more of a friendship with them. But I think if he can establish some key 1:1 friendships with some of the boys away from school and their sporting events, then that will carry over eventually to more group activities, especially if he feels that he has a couple of friends there who know him and like him.

I hope this helps. Sending best wishes for you and your son.

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answers from Dallas on

I like the idea best of getting him tested. It is so common for all ADHD kids to have trouble socializing in a good way. A correct diagnosis, if applicable will help him for years to come in most all areas of his life. There are some really good summer and after school programs that help them with this along with other skills if diagnosed.

Do watch him whenever you can when he's interacting with other kids and you to see what he's donig that may be off-putting or odd and teach him that's not going to make many friends. That he should try ___ instead.

Also, the more self confidence you can raise for him the better. Find some class that he loves and can excel in. Whether that's karati, gymnastics, computers, etc that is not a team game.

Don't let this one go.

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answers from Toledo on

My 6 yr. old granddaughter has the same problem, and when she was tested by a speech therapist, she was diagnosed with a language disorder. None of us thought there was a problem, but she has a problem socializing like you describe. She also sometimes quotes from TV, movies, and books instead of making her own sentences. If your son does this, too, please have him evaluated for speech problems. I was sure nothing was "wrong" with her, but she's in therapy now, and we are already seeing improvement after only 2 weeks.

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