Both my sons are not really doing well on the friendship front.
Child2 is simply not interested in other kids. He enjoys his own company very much and if it wasn’t for the ASD diagnosis then I would honestly have assumed that he’s a loner and an introvert. I guess this is not really an issue if he is comfortable and happy in his skin, but I do worry about the effects of this on his future relationships.
Will he be able to work in a group with others? Will he be able to network and sell himself and his skills if he needs to? I spoke with his teacher and apparently he has friends within the classroom environment – she mentioned names of the kids that he occasionally enjoys playing with. It took him a long, long time to get to this point and it’s only now that she can say that he has friends. He even appears to have a thing for a girl called Hannah and is forever twirling her hair. Not sure if I’m happy with that but at this stage I can live with it. It DOES look like I will be able to have a proper birthday party for him next year – there are FINALLY some kids that I can invite.
Child1 struggles and many of the reasons for this are because of things beyond his control. For example: he is loud, he is all over the place and he gets overly excitable. Other kids can’t cope with this. He is a VERY social guy but other kids can find that overwhelming. He just really wants to have people to hang out with and he often seems desperate. This breaks my heart in sooooo many pieces because it DOES affect him.
I worry about him feeling rejected, I worry about the possibility of him being accepted by the wrong “type” of friend and I worry about what all of this is doing to his self-esteem. IT doesn’t help that he is very “child-like” and not as worldly as the average 12-year-old – this actually makes him more of an outcast.
He had two really nice friends last year – two boys who were EXACTLY like him. They were the same age and all very child-like – still wanting to play outside and with their action figurines etc but BOTH of those friends have moved away – into different provinces. Isn’t that a bummer? There are many kids his age in our area but I don’t like them for him so I don’t allow any form of socialising there. I know I need to helicopter a bit less but I know my child and I know what he needs. I don’t helicopter when I am comfortable with who he is socialising with.
When I think back to my own “kid” friendships then I see many similarities between both kids and myself. I think I always felt “lonely” though I had friends. I think that many kids couldn’t cope with the uniqueness that was me. And I think that it didn’t help that I was very shy and battled to make my own friends. I have definitely come a long way as an adult but it hasn’t been easy – in fact, I’ve had to work REALLY hard at doing something basic like making friends. This only really came to me as an adult and to be honest, I really don’t want my kids to be “lonely” and feel “rejected” as teenagers. I often wonder if I’ve somehow projected my friendship struggles onto them.
I am not too worried at this stage about Child2 and his friendship issues. Remember, he is only just talking and he is only NOW starting to catch up. I feel that with therapy and further development, he’s going to be OK. Also, I have accepted that he LOVES his own company and doesn’t really seem to need people in order to be happy. I honestly feel that his friendship issues will resolve themselves at some point.
However, I am at a loss with Child1. I spoke with his school psychologist (I am going to request a new one from the school in 2013 because I REALLY don’t like her – I wrote about her over here ) and she wasn’t very helpful. I like PRACTICAL solutions eg..let’s try this approach or lets work on this or how about introducing this etc. She talks a lot of crap and goes all Freud on me – quite frankly I am not interested.
My DH and I do a bit of role-playing with him at home – we practice things like how to approach people without overwhelming them and how to determine if you are too loud and basic things like personal space and how to “read people”. He’s not completely there yet and there is a fair amount of repetition but I do believe that at some point we’ll get there. I’m also considering sending him for some life-skills/social skills training for kids with ADD/ADHD.
Would you believe that there aren’t really people or practitioners who offer this? I don’t know if I’ll be good at this kind of thing but I am thinking that maybe I should work something out and offer this as a service?
Quite honestly, I can’t really think of anything else that I can do to help him with this but I am hoping that you can offer me some suggestions.
Do your kids struggle with friendships? If so, how do you help them?
Do you assist them with nurturing their friendships?
How do you suggest I navigate the friendship issue with Child1?
Do you think that our kids learn HOW to be good at friendship based on how WE are as friends?