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12 year old son - no friends at all

(28 Posts)
esoh Fri 14-Mar-14 17:37:51

Hi - my 12 year old son has absolutely no friends at all. He has had a tough time at school but that has been sorted though obviously bullies are always round the corner. Of course when he is home he does absolutely nothing and is angry and frustrated and does the minimum school work and plays no sport at all. It is driving me mad as he needs to socialise and I know he would like to but he as no clue how to "get on" with his peer group and fit in. Consequently holidays are a nightmare. As it is always me around him (unhealthy for all !) - any suggestions ?

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 14-Mar-14 17:53:04

That does sound hard. But if he's had trouble at school is there any reason why you can't try getting him involved in stuff outside school? Scouts? A local cricket, chess, football club? Anything that he could do in company with other people of his age - to build up his confidence....

Is there nothing he likes to do? Art? Drama? Perhaps concentrating on the activity rather than conscious socializing might start him down the path? If he's lonely and angry and frustrated it might just need one thing.

Are you sure everything is properly resolved at school? Has there been any question of moving him for a fresh start?

Technical Fri 14-Mar-14 18:10:24

I'd recommend Scouts. I mean this in the nicest possible way but they often seem to comprise children who are a bit "different" and they get to do some great stuff and be active without much sport being involved.

Try a troop (?) away from his school where he can develop a completely separate set of peers. My Ds loves it. He's also recently started Army cadets, which he's loving so far and is great for similar reasons.

NigellasDealer Fri 14-Mar-14 18:13:56

my son was totally non-sporty but did take to cricket for a couple of seasons which was nice as you do have the 'laws and spirit of cricket' so minimal bullying.
and/or swimming?

FernieB Fri 14-Mar-14 18:32:43

Why not try an individual sport rather than a team sport. That way he can be with a group but still doing his own thing - karate, judo, athletics, racquet sports, swimming. Scouts is a good idea - it's generally very well supervised so no danger of bullying and everyone is included in everything.

sami1985 Fri 14-Mar-14 21:34:30

My son was like this last year in year 7, and I didn't know what to do, but this year its sorted itself out. Maybe give it some time. Is your DC on the spectrum?

dietstartsmonday Fri 14-Mar-14 21:42:48

my ds1 was just like this. he is now in year 10 and has a small friendship group. it sorted itself out. but i worried too. he does scouts, would def say thats a good idea

cory Sat 15-Mar-14 12:11:28

what everybody else says about concentrating on an activity rather than on finding friends

I think it's often more difficult for boys because the stereotypical expectations of what they are supposed to like and be good at (football, football and more football) are so strong

but there are other sports than football and other things to do than sport

drama has done very well for some boys I know; it has the advantage that drama kids are often quite tolerant of differences- and these days there is quite a bit of social cache to being in a show

dementedma Wed 19-Mar-14 19:50:29

Oh, I have a ds just like this! When he went up to high school last year he was bullied and found it really hard to integrate and make friends. The school guidance team were a great help and have been wonderful. We tried Cubs when he was younger which he hated, along with all other organised activities. I worry that he's not part of any clubs but there is no point forcing him.
He is starting to make friends now and seems happier, but still no sign of being invited to anyone's house or wanting anyone to come here. Its very hard going. Just have to hope that things will resolve as he matures.

sicily1921 Fri 21-Mar-14 20:08:20

Hi Esoh I am sorry your son has had a tough time, I can sympathise as my DD, also 12yr has had long periods of no friends. She has a few at school now but no company at home (except for brother who she fights with most of time!) so I know how hard it is especially the hols.

Sorry, did you say the bullies live near you or were they at school?( I've had experience of bullies too but this was for DS). Is he scared to play outside or something? Are there any children near your home to play with? Does he have any siblings? You need to look at the things he is interested in or might be interested in. For instance there might be a club in your area for something you might not have thought of yet. It was a godsend when we discovered a martial arts club for both my DCs as there are virtually no children where we live for them to play with.

Have you sought help at school, there should be help available for children having difficulty finding friends, is there a pastoral team?
You may or may not be religious but sometimes it is worth looking into the local church.

I'm sure things will improve but I really do know your struggle and worry, it is hard when you feel like you are their only company etc

Hugs to you both.

Dededum Fri 21-Mar-14 20:15:08

My DS1 (12) yr 8 does warhammer at Games Workshop, Chess club outside school and yoga. It has just come together this year and is starting to make friends. Or get him an iPhone and let him take it to school, that makes breaks a bit more sociable.

pookamoo Fri 21-Mar-14 20:20:31

MY brother was the same. He is now 31 and getting married to a lovely woman in September.

In the 7 years he was at high school, he never once had a friend round, or ever went out.

He is ok now, though.

Swanhildapirouetting Fri 21-Mar-14 22:14:41

He could have dyspraxia or have undiagnosed Asperger's. Everything you describe might be linked with those deficits, especially the difficulty enjoying sport. I would seek advice from school and ask for them to assess him or write you a letter you can take to gp to get him referred. The difficulties with his work too, screams undiagnosed LDs, not just laziness. These things along with bullying would make anyone depressed and surly.

I too think you have to find something that he is interested in before you even think about him finding any friends. My ASD son hated most clubs but he loved drama and lego club and any sport where he wasn't under pressure to win or fail. My dyspraxic son has a few friends now through his music (sings in choir) and is just beginning to engage in sport for D of E. For dyspraxic child undiagnosed until 13 it has taken a lot of encouragement from school to bring him out of himself, makign him join a choir when he didn't want to, asking school to facilitate him joining C rugby team when he wasn't very good at rugby. School outward bound trips were also wonderful ways to increase my ds1 confidence. Every step of the way he needed encouragement not criticism or being told he was lazy or boring or unmotivated. Some children find it very hard to make friends and just a few acquaintances can start to increase their confidence, but it is a slow process.

You are his first and best friend, so if he trusts you to believe in him that is a very good start. Not to mollycoddle him but just to be on his side and listen if he wants to talk. My eldest in his darkest hours when he was about 10 and a bit lost, would really enjoy chatting about my early days and things that had happened to me and my relatives, family anecdotes I mean. It made him feel a bit more grownup and have a perspective on his own life.

Good luck.

Swanhildapirouetting Fri 21-Mar-14 22:22:14

The other thing I found, was that my two often enjoyed the comp
any of boys older or younger than them. They felt a lot more secure with them than their peers. Ds1 actually gets on better with one of ds2 friends (12) than ds2 does (this causes scenes unfortuantely) Ds2's ex friend has invited ds1 in to play computer games on occasion, and not ds2...

Going to football matches has been another good way to meet peers and have something to talk about. Dh and I have both taken the boys on different occasions.

Ds1 has also enjoyed being independent at 13 and going for long walks, or errands. That has boosted his confidence, and made him feel he is master of his own destiny.

It is hard when they are so dependent on you for their social feedback. I remember when ds2 was 10 feeling exhausted by the way the holidays were relentlessly about ds2 and entertainign him, as other children would be invited out or go to clubs and ds2 just refused. He is much better now though.

Dededum Sat 22-Mar-14 09:45:04

My DS1 is on the autistic spectrum (high functioning), as Swan says he needs constant reassurance for things his brother finds easy. He was so excited because he went into Sainsburys on his own and bought a drink.

The chess and warhammer has meant he is interacting with kids much older than him, not so much friends but he gets to have geeky conversations about the best fantasy armies.

Just thinking don't put pressure on him to 'fit in' with his peer group, if he feels better in himself then he will slowly find his natural peers. Is he yr 7 or yr 8? My son is now in yr 8, yr 7 was a hard slog and I just praised him for getting to school, acknowledging what hard work it was. In spring term yr 8 things are turning around.

Non contact martial arts are good for 'non sporty' autistic kids - clear structure, non competitive. DS1 did it for a while and I was amazed how my dyspraxic boy concentrated.

devilinside Sat 22-Mar-14 10:04:16

My son is younger than yours, but is on a downward spiral and his only interest is his tablet. He is also autistic, and I have spent the entire morning persuading him to try a new hobby to no avail. Watching thread for further suggestions!

Toomuch2young Sat 22-Mar-14 10:06:07

You could try RAF cadets. Turned my friends withdrawn lazy 13 year old into an out going 15 year old who is now a corporal, has lots of friends and many new skills.

Dededum Sat 22-Mar-14 10:42:04

Hi devil inside - what do you mean 'downward spiral'? Assume he is still at junior school. i think you have to be very careful, you cannot force things but try and support the interests that he has even if they are a bit odd. My husband plays computer games with DS1, he is in Canada at the moment and last night they played a game remotely. If he watches utube videos of computer games/ minecraft help make videos of his own. Computing programming is good. There are companies that run summer camps for computing programming, near us is computer explorer.

Does he like Musuems? My parents take him to London, never happier than pooling around the Science musuem, they are taking him to the Viking exhibition at the British Musuem this Easter.

I basically let my boys have as much computer time as they want as long as they do other things. DS1 does more since I stopped fighting them over coming off the darn things. Controversial but I tried with the time limit programmes.

Again try games workshop / warhammer - hugely expensive little plastic models but great for autistic kids.

My husband and I do yoga so he now does kids yoga.

I do think things get easier at secondary schools, he will not be the only 'odd' 'quirky' kid. Primary and junior school is particularly difficult.

sicily1921 Sat 22-Mar-14 14:36:50

Pookamo nice to hear that about your brother smile

pookamoo Sat 22-Mar-14 16:36:54

Thanks sicily, we are all so happy about it! My DDs are both going to be bridesmaids and DH is best man.

My brother used to do computer programming (BBC BASIC in those days!). He did go to scouts but again, no friends as such. Hated camp though and was bullied the one time he went. sad

He went to uni after school, but as far as I know, he has no contact with anyone he was there with - so again, no friends. I feel so sad for him.

I suppose all of the above is why DH is the best man. There's nobody else. They are friends now, but we don't live close to each other.

sicily1921 Mon 24-Mar-14 14:16:50

Aww well I hope he has a lovely wedding and he deserves a lovely woman.

How are you OP, have you found any help??

smoothieooo Mon 24-Mar-14 14:27:17

DS1 (15) was the same - after a bullying episode at school, followed by inappropriate intervention by the school, he lost friends he'd had since primary school. It was the weekends which were hard when he did nothing, other than xBox games with strangers via the Connect. I was desperate for him to have friends over for tea or sleepovers.

The best thing I ever did was enrol him at our local David Lloyd centre to play tennis (well worth the arm and a leg I shell out monthly). He's made some friends there and it actually gets him out of the house, plus his confidence is rising which is a joy.

Nocomet Mon 24-Mar-14 14:45:47

DD1 did Guides and is a Ranger "out of area" she has very DFs who are totally free from all the baggage DD had at school.

The traveling when as 16y they want to do things is a bit of a pain, but it's well worth it.

soontobeslendergirl Mon 24-Mar-14 23:08:07

Does he do any on-line socialising? i.e. xbox live, PSN or skype etc.

My eldest (13) finds it difficult to initiate conversations face to face and therefore finds it difficult to ask people over etc. but finds it easier to speak on-line.

He does however go to Scouts, Swimming, Judo and now a teen gym session.

Returning to the Scouts, he has a friend at Scouts who doesn't live locally or go to the same High school. He really gets on well with this lad and they have known each other for 3 years. If they go away on camp, they share a tent etc.

However, I asked him if he wanted to arrange to met up with him out of Scouts and he said he would but didn't have his phone number or any way of contacting him. I asked him what sort of things they talked about and he couldn't name anything confused. he was also bullied for a while at primary and we've been told he is borderline for Aspergers but has never been formally tested as we didn't know if it would achieve anything.

we've been using this book and it seems to be slowly helping:

lforde04 Tue 08-Apr-14 17:54:42

This message might come slightly late, for which I apologise. If you manage to read it then I hope it reassures you in some small way.

Now, at the age of 21 my life couldn't more more different to what it was four or five years ago. Indeed for many of my formative years I had no friends at all. It's difficult to boil my former friendlessness down to one single issue. I was always a quieter individual, perhaps a bit of an eccentric and oddball. This attracted the attention of bullies and my years in primary school were extremely difficult ones. I started secondary school hoping that I could meet new people and make friends, in fact I can remember being preoccupied by this in the summer holiday prior to starting. In hindsight I think I lacked adequate social skills. In the first few weeks of the school year I made a huge effort to make friends, but it fell short and certain members of my peer group were unpleasant to me. Faced by this adversity I decided that it would be easier to retreat and keep myself to myself. From thereon in, my experience in School was one of survival. I spoke to a few people occasionally but most of my break times were spent standing alone in the playground. My lack of social interaction in school was accompanied by a complete lack of it outside. Like your son I didn't play any sports, and because I didn't have any friends my weekends and evenings were extremely lonesome.

From what I can remember, I didn't experience loneliness keenly until I was about 15 or 16. I had my moments as all teenagers do (puberty is a very difficult time!), I was tired quite a lot and school was pretty frustrating. I think your Sons behaviour might be linked to this as opposed to his friendlessness. At any rate, I was initially shielded from the reality of my situation. Until the end of year 9 I lived some way away from my school (and where everyone else lived), because of this I was sheltered and got on with life so to speak. During that Summer we moved to an address much closer to the school, in the neighbourhood that many of my classed mates lived in too. Seeing them around, going to parties together and socialising highlighted my isolation and I felt extremely lonely much of the time. Hearing them discuss parties and outings that I simply wasn't invited on genuinely hurt. I wanted to break free of the social situation that I existed in, but there was little that I could do. I had few social skills and was regarded as the guy 'nobody really bothered with' by most of my classmates.

Leaving school and starting sixth form presented me with a new opportunity to make friends and meet new people. Although this started somewhat haltingly, by the end of the first year my social life had improved substantially. I had made friends and was actually going out with people to parties and the cinema and so on. Through the Second year, I continued to socialise with people. I think this experience helped me nurture social skills meaning that when I left for university I was able to meet people and immerse myself in a normal social life. Three years later, I'm on the verge of graduating (don't really know what will happen next...) with a girlfriend and great circle of friends.

Things might well work out for your son as they did for me. He is only 12, and in the next six years will change beyond recognition as he grows into a young man. If you support him no matter what, and act as a source of support and advice I think he'll be fine.

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