Sunday, January 30, 2011

My 14 year old has no social life....

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Comment: Thank you for the quick response. I will give your suggestions a try.

Questioner: Kelley

Subject: 14 y.o. son - no social life

Question: My 14 y.o. son who is in 8th grade has always been very reserved. He's very smart and does well in school. He spent most of his time between birth and kindergarten with adults (my parents and home day care), but did go to pre-k briefly. He went to the same school from K-5 and made a few friends that he occasionally did things with outside of school (this is not a neighborhood school so the kids are spread out).

He played soccer in a rec league for a couple of years when he was younger, but has no interest in playing sports now. He had one friend in our neighborhood that he played with all the time. He started a new school 2 years ago (6th grade) and since that time he seems to have adjusted okay, but he shows no interest in having a social life outside of going to school. Plus, we moved last year and he doesn't see the friend from our old neighborhood any more.

He plays a lot of computer video games and does communicate online with a couple of kids from school. However, he doesn't ever want to invite anyone over or see if they want to meet at the mall or go see a movie. I'm very concerned that he has no interest in having a social life with kids his own age. There are boys in our neighborhood his age, but he doesn't want to get to know them.

He communicates well and does like to be around adults. He is also very hush hush about his life at school and rarely gives me any information about what goes on at school (he has always been like this and gets upset if I ask too many questions). Should I be concerned about him not having a social life at all? What should my husband and I do to get him to open up more?

Answer: Dear Kelley:

First of all congratulate yourselves as parents that your only challenge with 14 year old is that he is not socializing.

This is a new era and teens are more frequently less social than we were due to the availability and access to technology.

As for increasing the communication level. Show an interest in the computer games he plays. I don't mean you have to play but ask him about what he enjoys and then listen. He sounds like he is very introverted (check out and he needs space.

However, showing an interest in what he is interested in rather than pushing him to be interested in what you think he needs to be interested in is a good start. Be comfortable with silences and introverts will talk more, learn to listen without parenting (advising, judging, analyzing) and he will talk to you more. Introverts are sensitive and very slow to warm up. The more you develop this communication line the more he will let you in however do be reasonable as he is a teen and they are all about separating from their parents (to build their own life) and developing friendships (is it possible he has friends online through his games?).

My point is that you have obviously done a good job if this is the only concern you have now, so enjoy that. Then try to meet him somewhat on his own ground. Don't you appreciate it when someone shows an interest in your life and activities? Find out what is so fascinating to him about those games and just listen.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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