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When It's Hard Making Friends

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: Because of my husband's job, we have moved around a lot and we've just recently moved back to the U.S. from Great Britain. My oldest son is 12 years old. He is a straight-A student, tall and handsome, but he just can't make friends. He gets pushed around and a lot of kids make fun of him because he's taking karate lessons. It breaks my heart to see him so unhappy. He doesn't go to school dances because his classmates tell him not to come. It's a very frustrating situation for him. He is a helpful child who just wants to make a friend. What can I do?

A: As you and your son know, any move into a new school is painful, especially at the middle level. As for your helping, start with encouraging him to continue the karate lessons and to go to the dances. Right now the bullies are winning. Middle-school boys are full of testosterone and hot air. If your son thinks the threats are serious, he should report it to the person in charge of discipline. If there is a peer-mediation program, your son could ask for a mediation with the students who are harassing him.

Next, I would suggest that you talk with his school counselor for ideas about this problem and what the school offers that might help your son make more friends. Is there an ambassador program? Are there any clubs that might interest your son?

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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.


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