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Teenage Problems/Sociability

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Question
My 14 year old son has been acting out (interrupting clases, and trying to be funny) as per a parent/teacher meeting we had. On december he stopped hanging out with a group of friends that he felt unconfortable, as he felt they where inmature and teased him anoyingly. On january he started hanging out with new friends just as this new, very complicated kid entered school. They became best friends, but together, they where very judging of everyone. After the teacher meeting, he told us the new boy was not talking to him anymore, and told him he was anoying and needed to give him and others space. He said he didnt feel like he was anoying anyone, and now we see he tries to make plans with other boys, only to hear that they made plans already. He doesn't look sad, he gets along with everyone very well inside school, but i feel sad that he stays home on fridays while others hang out (the complicated boy is still alone, by the way).
Schoolyear is about to end in a couple of weeks, he is going to highschool, and i worry about him not having a group of friends to hang out. How can I stop worring about it? Because I know my anxity is not helping.
Thank you

Answer
Hi Danielle,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me and I hope that I can help.

It is natural to be worried abut your children if you think that they are struggling to make friends or have an active social life. It is during your teenage years that you have the time and the freedom to meet new people, change friends and develop life long friendships, so it is an important aspect of growing up and developing our identity. Some people find making friends easier than others and some people have the ability to naturally just attract people whereas others have to do a little bit of work to establish those links. It sounds like, from what you have written, that your son is struggling to find his own identity and this means that he will struggle to make friends as he is not comfortable with who he is. This could also explain his acting out at school because if he thinks the only way he can make friends is by drawing attention to himself in class, he will continue to try and be the best clown; opposed to u derstandi g that he does not need to do this if he just accepted who he is. So how can you help him?

Firstly, have a chat with him and explain your concerns to him; that you are worried that he is not getting out and about as much as he should be and that you are worried that he is going to become isolated if he does not do something. Ask him about the situation at school and with his friends and find out why people find it difficult to be around him. If it does become apparent that the common theme is that people find him annoying, then explain to him that maybe he should stop trying so hard to impress people and that he needs to remember that he is a good person who is likeable. People who act out or struggle to find friends sometimes lack the confidence in themselves to think that people will like them if they are too quiet; so they become overly energetic and centre of attention to almost tell people "look at me, I exist". This can backfire though and people tend to find this kind of personality too energetic and overbearing.

Secondly, with school about to end, he is going to have a lot more time on his hands and if he is not socialising, he is going to end up bored and wasting his time off. It might be a good idea to see if there are any clubs locally that will interest him and encourage him to go. If he joins a club where people share his passions, he is automatically going to have something in common with them and this should mean making friends becomes easier. It will also give him a routine and a focus for the summer, as well as boosting his extracurricular activities.

Thirdly, encourage your son to get a hobby, even if this is a solo hobby as it will again, give him some focus.

Fourthly, encourage him to attend every social event that is in the area; be this family events, local activities and sports events. The more he gets out, the more people he will see meet, the more chance he will meet people that will become his friends. This will also boost his confidence around people and should help him to accept his personality meaning he is less likely to annoy people.

Finally, you can only do so much as a parent and lot of the life lessons your son will learn he will have to learn by himself. Your role as his parent is to do what you are doing, which is to love him, reassure him and guide him when he needs it. His behaviour will settle down as he gets older and he will naturally find his own friends, even if that takes some time.

Just keep an eye on him and as long as he is happy, you need not concern yourself too much...he will come to you if he needs anything.

I hope this helps.

Good luck.

Teenage Problems

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Daryl Taylor, BSc (Hons) Psychology, PGDip (pending certification)

Expertise

My expertise covers everything and anything to do with growing up, being a teenager or a young adult or being the parent of one of the pre-described. I can cover issues on identity, sexuality, love, relationships, families, drug/alcohol abuse and anything and everything in between.

Experience

I have volunteered for AllExperts.com for over ten years now, but even before that I was trying to use my experience to help others by working with Advice4teens.co.uk, Teenadviceonline.org and even Lycos and Ask Jeeves. My experience comes from being a teenager primarily but this lead me to work with young people from the age of 13. I have worked front line, face to face and over the telephone, e-mail and webchat for a government department called Connexions UK (aimed at young people aged 13-19); as well as being student counselor in New York, a Peer Mentor, a student teacher and working for my school, college and University to help raise the aspirations of young people. My life has not been easy and I have been through my fair share of issues; so there is little that I haven't been through in reality opposed to just reading it from a book or from my academic studies. I have been featured as a case study as achieving through adversity for a number of magazines and I have featured in a couple of books on both sides of the Atlantic; even though I am UK based.

Organizations
The Albert Kennedy Trust

Publications
Relationships: Cathy Senker, 2012, Raintree The Dean and Chapter Positive Nation GTEN Television Aim Higher

Education/Credentials
BSc(Hons) Psychology Post Graduate Diploma in Multidisciplinary Design Innovation Basic Counselling Skills Effective Listening Skills Mental Health First Aid

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Student achievement Adult learner's Award

Past/Present Clients
Allexperts.com Advice4teensuk.org Teenadviceonline.org lycos.co.uk askjeeves.com Connexions Direct

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