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Anyone else got a teen who doesn't socialise?

(42 Posts)
tomal Fri 08-May-09 22:18:58

Feeling quite sad tonight. DS1 is 18 tomorrow and will only be celebrating with us. He has friends in school, but his social life has completely tailed off over the last year as he has become more and more anxious about going out anywhere with friends.
I've tried to persuade him to have counselling, but he is refusing. He doesn't seem particularly depressed, just a bit sad that his life is so boring.
He is hoping to go to uni in September, and I'm just not sure that he is going to cope.

Chaotica Fri 08-May-09 22:25:22

Does he not socialise because he doesn't meet people he likes? If so, he may well have a great time at uni and meet loads of people.

(Speaking as an ex-reluctant socialiser myself.)

Unless there is an underlying issue, I don't think that counselling is the answer.

Merrylegs Fri 08-May-09 22:30:49

Sorry to hear that. We all want our kids to have friends and a fulfilling life. It sounds as if he is a bit lost at the moment - but not totally directionless as he has plans to go to Uni.

Why has he become more anxious about going out with his friends? Has he just got 'out of the habit'?

What would you want him to have counselling for?

Uni could be just the catalyst he needs to break the blues. He will have to socialize and interact to some extent. It may be the making of him! After all, he is motivated enough to go, isn't he?

Hope he has a very happy birthday, btw!

abouteve Fri 08-May-09 22:31:30

How is he in himself. Does he appear to be happy? If so, I wouldn't worry too much. Enjoy celebrating his 18th. He is now old enough to go to the local by himself and perhaps socialise more, if he wants to.

I expect his social life will pick up when he goes to uni and meets like minded people. Just keep and eye and ear out for signs that all's not well.

Voltaire Fri 08-May-09 22:39:50

Perhaps his friends do stuff that he doesn't want to get caught up in - drinking, smoking weed, drugs, dancing? My 17 year old doesn't have a fantastic social life either but neither of us is worried about it.

Are you sure he is anxious about it? Or is he anxious about it only because he feels he should be socialising more?

tomal Sat 09-May-09 07:47:35

Thanks for your replies. Part of the reason he doesn't socialise is that he hates dancing/nightclubbing, while this is something all his friends love to do.

There are deeper issues though, in that he is so scared of rejection, he will never ask his friends to do anything and if they ask him to do something he is too scared to go.Over the last year his friends have stopped asking him to do anything because I presume they have assumed he doesn't want to do anything. He also won't use MSN, Facebook or even texting as he finds it hard to communicate using the written word.

I should also add that there is a bit of background to this, in that his dad has mental health problems, suffering from severe anxiety and depression so I want DS1's issues dealt with before they get any worse. Very hard to work out what is normal teenage behaviour and what is a problem.

I am hoping that university will be the making of him, but I'm also aware that he will struggle with the social side and thought that counselling would maybe equip him with strategies to deal with his anxieties?

Our plans to go out and celebrate have just taken a knock, as DS2 has been up all night with V&D, so our pub family lunch may have to wait until tomorrow!

sarah293 Sat 09-May-09 07:49:15

Message withdrawn

flashpan Sat 09-May-09 14:12:23

My ds (15) doesn't socialise out of school and it worries me to death. he seems happy about this (I think) but I am worried that he isn't happy but won't say because he thinks I will interfere. There was a history of problems with other boys in years 7 & 8 and that really set back his social confidence. He doesn't live near other friends and I'm worried that the others all do stuff as they live near each other and he doesn't. He wouldn't push himself forward to invite himself along as would be scared of rejection and unless he was directly invited to something he just does nothing. I'm not sure boys make such direct invitations as girls and just go with the flow. He certainly wouldn't suggest anything again in case of rejection.
I too worry about uni as I fear he would just sit in his room all the time on his own on the computer (and might be happy) but its not good for developing life skills is it? I think I also worry too much and its becoming an obsession and am worried about own mental health. Comforting to know that others have like boys!!

midnightexpress Sat 09-May-09 14:19:57

I'd like to offer a ray of hope. My DB when we were teenagers never ever went out or socialised out of school. He's a couple of years older than I am and when I went to parties his school friends were always asking me why he never came too. It was strange as they were all quite normal, sociable teenagers, not into anything very dodgy as far as I know. He just stayed at home, watched tv, that's about it. I think it was shyness or something. Anyway, he went off to train as a nurse after school and found his own way and is now a major in the medical part of the army, perfectly normal, successful in his career, very happily married with a lovely stepson and a lovely wife, kind to his mum and sister, involved in teaching, training, public speaking, all that sort of thing and I'm sure I am far more of a concern to my DM than he is!

So, do not despair. Just because he's maybe shy or hormonal atm doesn't mean he'll grow into a complete social disaster.

mummyflood Sat 09-May-09 14:44:00

DS2, 13, is exactly like this. I have realised recently that the key to it is, as others have said, the fear of rejection. In Yr7, he made several overtures of friendship (didn't go to same high school as most of his year) but was knocked back. Now in Year 8, he NEVER makes the first move, eventhough from what I have seen there are some really nice lads in his class/year. He has one boy who calls for him for school and they mostly come home together, but he doesnt see him or anyone else out of school on a regular basis. He is convinced that his lad is only calling from him because he darent say he doesn't want to any more!!?! It is becoming increasingly obvious that is is confidence/self esteem holding him back, and over the last few weeks he has also become Kevin the Teenager with a vengeance. He is going to be far, far more of a challenge than DS1 who is reasonably sociable, well-adjusted and generally a typical 15yr old!

Re; the counselling, I get what you mean - I have often wondered if there is such a thing which focuses on self esteem/confidence building, and like you have said, teaching strategies to deal with anxiety. However, I am thinking that with age and maturity mine will hopefully become more confident in who he is, and find his niche when he is more hormonally balanced, IYSWIM!!grin

I think having the ambition and confidence to go to Uni and the commitment that entails is a very positive sign, will your DS be moving away from home? Hopefully he will really 'come into his own fairly quickly', and in a few months you won't recognise the young man you worried about!

Best Wishes. xx

scienceteacher Sat 09-May-09 14:52:50

My 17 year old doesn't socialise much. He is happy and productive at school, has friends there. He plays football out of school.

He goes to maybe 2 parties a year, and will go to the cinema or a comedy show with a couple of school mates 3 or 4 times a year.

He is perfectly happy, and it means that we don't have to worry about a) getting up to no good, and b) not focussing on his studies.

He is usually a good bet for Saturday night babysitting

tomal Sat 09-May-09 15:51:33

Thank you all for sharing your stories with me. It is comforting to know that DS1 is not the only boy with no social life!

If he gets the right grades he will be moving 100 miles away for uni. It's not so much that he wants to go, but that he doesn't feel ready to get a job (won't get a Saturday job because he is so anxious). Other than living the rest of his life in his room, uni is his only option! We talk about his difficulties sometimes, and he says he realises that he needs to change how he is with other people when he gets to uni.Obviously that is easy for him to say now as it is still 5 months away.

I will just continue to try and support him, and hope for the best.

Thank you again.

shootfromthehip Sat 09-May-09 15:59:41

Just thought I'd add that my DB was 'jimmy nae mates' to use a good Scottish expression when he was at school. He just didn't like any of the kids enough to hang out with them. He is now nearly 30, has travelled the world, lived abroad and is about to marry a hot American girl and go and live there. He also DJ's- for a living. You would not believe it was the same guy.

I also teach teens and some of the most charming, hardworking and well-adjusted kids I know have little or no social lives, prefering the security of their rooms. It's only when they go to Uni that they come into their own.

I know it's hard (my parents were nearly demented with worry about my DB) but try not to focus on the lack of socail life if he seems to be otherwise quite happy. It might just be his choice.

mumblechum Sun 10-May-09 07:27:14

Tomal, counselling for anxiety is available from your local CAMHS team, referred via your GP. It usually takes the form of cognitive behaviour therapy which aims to break the cycle of anxious behaviour.

Alternatively, if you don't want to wait to see CAMHS (could be several months before he gets help), there are lots of private counsellors doing CBT. I'm sure there is a national assoc. to which all competent psychologists belong, & that could easily be researched.

Good luck. Although my ds is extremely sociable, he did have a mildish anxiety problem a few years ago and after 3 CBT sessions learned to handle the problem v. effectively.

tomal Sun 10-May-09 21:51:50

Thank you Mumblechum. DS1 has agreed to speak to someone, so I've emailed a private therapist today, enquiring about sessions for him. The website I used was BACP, and the therapist is BACP accredited. Hopefully this will help him to improve enough to survive uni.

tatt Mon 11-May-09 07:28:53

you are possibly making him more anxious over this. Instead why not encourage him to be around younger people? They will look up to him as teens do with older teens and it will build his confidence.

Something like DofE community sevrice can work wonders.

notsoclever Mon 11-May-09 07:28:58

My dd was rather shy and although university was a good break and a great opportunity she found some aspects of it quite difficult.

Can you talk with your ds about some practical things he might do to ease things for him? There will be hundreds of clubs, societies and groups that he can join ( and they will be recruiting hard during freshers week, with lots of planned events). What is he currently interested in? What might he like to try? These groups are really good for meeting people outside his normal course.

Where will he be staying? Is he in a large hall of residence or in a smaller flat? Either way the strategies he will need for getting on with people will be different.

Depending on the course he is doing, he may find that he has a lot of unstructured free time. What will he do, and how will he use this time?

Helping him to think through these things now may give him some plans for when he does go to uni.

Alternatively, if he is really not ready for it socially, then are then other things that he can do for a year or two until he finds his feet a bit? Could he do some voluntary work while living at home? (Less chance of rejection than applying for a job). Most charities have voluntary roles that people can do which do not require them to socialise or interact too much e.g. volunteer gardeners, stuffing envelopes for a major mailshot etc.

NorkyButNice Mon 11-May-09 07:49:46

My parents were extremely over-protective when I was a teenager, so eventually I stopped asking to go out (or being asked by my then friends).

When I went to uni I wasn't at all sociable at first, and did find it a bit hard, but it was the perfect place to find people with similar interests and to develop a social life at my own speed.

Freshers week is great for joining societies and going to drinks with course mates, and your new room mates. He'll settle in great at uni I'm sure!

waycat Wed 13-May-09 06:25:52

I can relate to this thread. My two boys (14 and 13) are happy to come home from school and stay home. They are mates themselves, being so close in age, although they do have times when they can't stand the sight of each other!

They both have good school friends, but as others have said, they all seem to live far away, certainly further than I lived from my friends when I was a teenager. I guess secondary schools have such wider catchment areas these days.

Let's face it - with social networking, on-line chatting and mobile phones, it seems easier to keep in touch with ones friends these days without actually being with them.

skybatwig Wed 03-Jun-09 22:50:51

I am so relieved to hear that my son (just 14) isn't the only one with no friends or apprent desire to do anything but sit in his room - my husband and I are beside ourselves with worry about how unpopular he seems to be and were contemplating some sort of reward system for making overtures of freindship. I think that a fear of rejection must be behind this - he was a normal friendly boy until he went to secondary school whereupon his previously best friend from primary school suffered a parental split and apparently deliberately cut himself off from all his old friends. My son has never been invited to a party since he started secondary school (he's now in Y9) and goes to a friend's after school maybe 3 or 4 times a term; is rarely invited out by other boys during the holidays and weekends and refuses to make the first step to instigating some sort of meeting himself. He didn't have a birthday party this year, just a quiet meal with us, his despised family ... I don't think he's particularly happy (who is at 14?) and woudl much rather be surrounded by friends - we would certainly feel more confident about his future if he was. The surprising thing is that to watch him at school you'd think he had lots of friends.

Jonesville Sat 05-Sep-09 17:44:33

Hi - 1st post.

I think I know how you feel - I'm at my wits end with my 13 year old daughter. She has no friends at school, largely as a result of some bullying half way through Y8 (she's just started Y9). She's gone from being a confident, happy teenager with a very busy social life to a loner with no confidence.

She has tried unsuccessfully to make new friends but is now so terrified of rejection that last week she spent lunchtime of the first day of term locked in a loo - she even ate her lunch in there. This just breaks my heart and upsets me so much I can't deal with it rationally!

The bully was punished last term, but this just seemed to make things worse, and others then got involved in her defence. During our family holiday I had to change her mobile phone number as she was getting so many prank calls. The bully did admit to the teacher dealing with her that she had deliberately set about isolating my daughter - who now spends holidays, weekends etc alone. She has a friend from primary school who moved away a couple of years ago so they don't meet up often.

She's asking to move schools - should I take this seriously and try to get her in somewhere else? I have no clue how to go about this.

She's starting counselling after I took her to our GP (she wasn't sleeping or eating).

Apologies for rambling!!

abouteve Mon 07-Sep-09 13:19:17

Just seen your post, Jonesville. I think it's worth seeing how she is after counselling but I would keep the lines of comunication open about moving schools. If your DD is really unhappy and isolated then it could be a good move.

I always said that if my DD went through a similar experience to myself at her school I would move her.

This hasn't happened as she won't mix with the 'popular' girls.

kimchiblue Mon 07-Sep-09 22:27:27

Jonesville, I think you should definitely consider letting your daughter move schools. I was in a similar position to your dd when I was at in year 8, but slightly different and possibly more awkward because the bully was a relative. My mum spoke to the school and the girl's parents, but would not let me move schools and the situation continued and completely eroded all of my confidence.

When i was 16, I took matters into my own hands and chose to move schools for sixth form. It was the best decision of my life. Without really trying I made lots of friends and when we were all of the age to start going to the pub together, I saw many girls from my old school who had formerly ignored me, but were now really chatty and eager to be my friend. (hypocritical, yes, but that is how teenage girls are.)

I guess the point I am trying to make is that a fresh start makes all the difference. Counseling will help your daughter, but it may not change the attitudes of others towards her.

AnyFucker Mon 07-Sep-09 22:34:11

move your daughters school

Jonesville Tue 08-Sep-09 09:21:53

Thanks for replies - I've asked the LEA to send me the in-year admissions paperwork and am going to have a go at getting her moved. At the moment she seems more resigned/flat than upset - but she is adamant that she wants to move. This whole thing feels like the end of the world - is it just me???

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