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  1. #1

    Default How to encourage introvert 9yo son to make friends?

    I want to preface this with the fact that I by no means think that my son needs to have a large circle of friends or should want to have numerous activities on his schedule. That said, he only has one friend and while that's enough for him if they can see each other at least once or twice weekly, they can't always and he does miss having someone else to play with. He's very much an introvert and quite happily plays on his own much of the time but his sister more often that not cannot/won't play the way he wants to when he does want to play with someone else. He has absolutely no interest in extracurricular activities such as sports or scouts. His great loves are gardening, Legos, Star Wars & LoTR, and music. We live in a very small town and there are very few ways to leverage those interests into some sort of relationship with other kids. When I've taken him to Lego days at the library he's played on his own the whole time. He is not shy, is very articulate and friendly, and can relate well in a group for brief periods of time but becomes burned out on socializing very quickly. It took he and his friend C nearly weekly exposure to each other for almost 2 years before they actually started to play together consistently. He is a perfectionist and becomes very self conscious learning new things in front of other people and starts to shut down (this has been true since toddler-hood and is another thing I'd like to help lessen some as it's going to greatly hinder his ability to work with other people in the long run). I've not been letting him stay at home away from other people or anything like that, we go and do numerous activities, but he generally will not participate or will only minimally participate. I'd love ideas for ways to gently nudge him toward slightly increasing his time with other people so that he has a greater opportunity to make another friend or two. He's also likely going to be attending school in a couple of years and seeing other kids more frequently would help that transition as I'm pretty sure he's going to find it difficult to be around other people 6-8hr/day.

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  3. #2

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    Hmmmm. Gardening clubs? They wont necessarily be age-mates, but having friends your age only is sort of contrived and artificial if you think about it.

    Hes still a little young for online friends, but maybe if he likes Minecraft (or the one IEF prefers, Minetest), he could find a social group on some safe server.
    Speaking as an introvert, I love my online friends here and that I game with - everyone lives on the other side of my ipad, and I intereact on my terms, and dont have to bother with such inconveniences like having to put on a bra and uncomfortable pants (since all my comfortable ones are likely dirty) to see them.

    Another way to look at is to imagine you were speaking of an adult... "My DH doesnt have enough friends. He has one buddy that he golfs with on Saturdays, but sometimes that doesnt happen. He has his family, but... He needs more friends because his job may change in a few years and he will be a [some job where he is having to deal with dozens of people regularly.... cant think of one, clearly Im not an extrovert]."

    I think as a homeschooling parent we feel responsible and like we need to be sure our kids dont fall into negative stereotypes of what homeschoolers are. Even if the same thing in public school kids doesnt generate notice.
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  4. #3

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    If having only one friend was meeting all of his friend needs I wouldn't worry about it but this friend is sometimes only available a couple of times a month and Fly Fisher gets lonely in that time. I too am an introvert, although not quite so introverted as he is, so I get not needing or wanting constant (or even daily) social interaction (my daughter is a capital E extrovert and would love near constant social interaction), but this is clearly not enough for him.

    ETA: I shouldn't have said likely to attend school. By 6th grade (2yrs) he will be in school. It is a smaller school but it will still involve being around other people all day every day. I will be working again (speaking of the hell that is being with other people all day every day) and my husband will be in school full time and working part time. I want to help make that transition a little less difficult for him.
    Last edited by Anthroknitgal; 07-20-2017 at 07:12 PM.

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    So, from my years in the classroom and observing kids in our social circles... I think the kids who don't make friends easily 1) have problems reading social cues, or 2) are extremely shy, or 3) have trouble caring about anything except their own stuff.

    Since it's not number one, and you say it's not number two, my guess is that part of the problem for him is number three. I think nearly all kids are profoundly self-centered - it's part of being a kid. But part of making friends and learning to socialize is learning to care about someone else's Lego creations, someone else's opinions about the books you like, or even, gasp, something you didn't come to on your own. If kids want to make friends, the best way to do it is to take up an interest that has some social currency. And be willing to compromise and care about something else. It's a balance, obviously. Going from being a kid who likes poetry and quiet imaginative games to a kid who likes sports and loud competitions probably isn't going to happen and shouldn't have to happen - kids (or adults) shouldn't have to change who they are in order to "fit in." But being willing to try someone else's favorite book when you like books, someone else's favorite sport when you like active games, etc. - that's a good thing. Typically in school, what I've seen is that kids who struggle to make friends usually have to take up the big nerdy interest, whether it's Pokemon or Magic: the Gathering or Lego or Minecraft or manga or whatever.

    If this was my kid, I'd just say this. Like, kid, you feel disappointed that you don't have more friends and social outlets, but when you hang out you didn't show any interest in anyone else's Lego builds, only your own. Basically, coach him through it. Encourage him to think about others and what he would want others to do to be friendly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by farrarwilliams View Post
    If this was my kid, I'd just say this. Like, kid, you feel disappointed that you don't have more friends and social outlets, but when you hang out you didn't show any interest in anyone else's Lego builds, only your own. Basically, coach him through it. Encourage him to think about others and what he would want others to do to be friendly.
    Yeah.. this sort of thing^^

    Like.. dooooood... I am trying here but you gotta meet me halfway.. or even a 1/4 of the way.

    I have one that is similar and she's just now turning 13 and seems a LOT more interested in meeting people. One of the places she found friends was on StoryCraft app. It's a writing stories app. There are other things happening on the app, like photos and community. She started when she was like 11 or 12 tho.. so it may not be totally right for your child.

    Also I randomly took the kids to a jujitsu class and one ended up loving it. So maybe just keep exposing and see what sticks? It makes more work for you to find things.. but just keep neutral emotionally and see what happens.
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  7. #6

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    You know I think you may be right. I think that he's so caught up in his own head that he has trouble surfacing enough to care to participate in anyone else's interests. I think your advice is good and I'll work on encouraging his interest in other people and their interests.

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How to encourage introvert 9yo son to make friends?