As a mom, it’s heartbreaking to watch your teen miss out on some of the rites of teen passage. Maybe you just moved to a new city or maybe your teen struggles with self-esteem or shyness. Either way, making friends can be a real challenge. While you can’t go out and make friends for your teenage son, you can help address any issues that might be holding him back. You can also encourage your teen to get active in the community to meet new people.
Think about why your teen may have trouble making friends. If he had friends and he suddenly lacks interest in social activities or hobbies, he may be suffering from depression. Consider whether seeing a therapist could help him overcome depression or deal with other obstacles, like shyness, low self-esteem, poor social skills or trouble fitting in.
Have a talk with your teen about what might be happening in his social life. Sometimes, teens lack the skills to deal with conflict in a healthy way and lose friends due to petty arguments or adolescent drama. Talk to your teen about ways to reconnect with friends he might be having problems with.
Offer to pay for your son to take up a hobby, like karate lessons, art classes or music lessons. He may meet like-minded people who share common interests.
Allow your teen to get an after-school job if his grades and maturity level allow it. Suggest jobs where other teens work, like grocery stores and restaurants. The camaraderie of sharing duties and the challenges of working as a team may foster new friendships.
Volunteer in the community with your teen. Many schools encourage or require community service as part of the college-prep curriculum. Volunteering can help him meet new people and build self-esteem.
Consider changing schools. While this step is dramatic and should be considered as a last resort, bullying, teen drama and social stigma may be difficult to overcome. If you do change schools and offer your child a fresh start, be sure to have open and honest communication about what happened at the old school to make his social life difficult. Changing schools won’t fix any existing problems, so don’t rely on it as its own solution without talking about healthy relationships, bullying, conflict resolution and the qualities of a good friend. Talk to your son about the importance of facing problems instead of running from them whenever he can.