From the U.S.: My 16-year-old son has always had friend issues, he struggled with being bullied in junior high and has always spent a great deal of time alone. Now that he is in high school, his Dad and I are getting very concerned. He spends every weekend home playing video games alone. I do not think he is depressed as he doesn’t exhibit the typical warning signs. But he is unhappy and speaks openly about wishing he had more friends.
We are baffled because he seems to be doing everything right- he goes to school football games, is involved in a few clubs and will place himself where others are, but still, he has no phone numbers, no one texts him, and he doesn’t get invited anywhere. I even paid him $30.00 to read “How to Win Friends and Influence Other”. he said he got a lot out of the book, but still no friends.
I’m just not sure how else to help him. I would describe him as having low self-worth, and he can come across as socially awkward, I think because of his insecurities about not having friends- its a vicious cycle. His Dad and I are wondering if there is some kind of a camp or retreat he could go away to to help coach him. We are out of ideas of how else to help him. Thank you.
Thank you for writing. There’s an old expression, “Once burned, twice shy.” The bullying may have made him very wary about getting too close to people. It’s certainly understandable. My guess is that your son is avoiding rejection by not reaching out. But it is making him unhappy and he seems stuck.
The fact that he does go places where there are other teens shows us that he hasn’t given up. Unfortunately, he has become too passive. You say he isn’t invited places. But does he ever do any inviting? He doesn’t get texts. But does he join in the social media conversations? He needs to regain the courage he needs to actively get involved.
His unhappiness does give you some leverage to get him some help. I don’t know of any such camp. I do have my doubts that a week of coaching would solve the problem. I hope you will consider a therapist instead. I think he would benefit from on-going coaching and support. The privacy of one on one therapy may be interesting to him.
If he accepts giving therapy a try, you and his dad need to back way off. Tell him that you are absolutely there for him if he wants to talk but that you know that he has things to work out for himself.
I wish you all well,