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Twelve-Year-Old Gets Picked On
Q: Our 12-year-old son seems to have suddenly found himself with no friends. There didn't seem to be a problem until about a month ago. My son did tell us that the one person he hung around with most of the summer, who is very popular, started picking on him. Now none of the kids talk to him.
He plays hockey three times a week, and he is a Sea Cadet -- so he is participating in outside activities. We love this kid so very much, and it hurts us to see him without friends. He also cannot stop moving his hands when talking to us -- he touches his nose, then his ears, then his chin, then his nose, etc. He's in constant movement when he is trying to carry on a conversation. What can I do to help him?
A: How fortunate your son is to have parents that understand and love him so much. His participation in Sea Cadets and hockey will benefit him greatly in establishing new friendships.
I suggest that you talk with the school counselor about a possible mediation between your son and his friend. The other children may have taken up teasing your son at his instigation and it might help that the friend knows how hurtful his actions are.
Ordinarily, I would say that what you are doing is sufficient and that with time he will find other friends. There was, however, a statement in your message that quite concerned me. You say that your son constantly touches his face at various points in a constant pattern. Has he always done this or did this start when his friend started teasing him?
I encourage you to take your son to a professional counselor or psychologist who specializes in children. If this pattern is recent, it may be due to stress and be a coping mechanism. If your son has done this for quite a while it may be indicative of a more serious issue that the counselor/psychologist can help alleviate.
Above all, continue to love and encourage him.
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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.