Some children are happy doing things on their own, and can get deeply involved by themselves in something that interests them. As long as your child seems happy and content, there's no problem with being a "loner" - every child is unique.
However, other children have few friends and spend a lot of time on their own and are very unhappy about it - it's not what they would choose.
It may be that these children haven't developed good relationship skills - they don't know how to make and keep friends. They may have trouble managing their anger, or sharing things. Or they may be shy. In other cases, frequent moves, or family problems such as illness and divorce, can make it hard for a child to make friends.
Here are some suggestions for helping a child who is a loner, but who doesn't want to be one:
- Ask your child about her feelings and concerns. Listen carefully to what you child has to say.
- Offer to help find a solution to his problem, but don't make it a big deal. Keep everything as positive and 'normal' as you can. Don't focus attention on the fact that he doesn't have many friends, especially in front of other people. And don't ask your child each day, "Did you make a friend?" That will feel like rubbing it in.
- Try not to blame other kids for your child's problem, or criticize them for being unfriendly. These are the children you want your child to make friends with.
- Look for ways for your child to meet other kids in situations that involve structured activities - especially activities your child is good at. It's much easier for children to get to know each other when they're part of a structured activity together.
- With your child's approval, suggest that she invite one playmate that she would like to get to know better on an outing with your family.
- When your child is playing with another child, quietly listen and try to see if your child needs help with any social skills - like sharing, taking turns or controlling emotions. Then later, after the other child has left, you can calmly and supportively help your child with those things. Don't criticize your child - just talk about some things he can do differently to make friendships more fun.
- If your child spends part of the day in childcare or school, check with the teachers to see what suggestions they have, and how they might be of help.
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