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Q: My ten-year-old son is frustrated by the boy next door, who is constantly trying to take away all of his friends. They are the same age and this has been going on since they were both very young. It happens in the neighborhood as well as in school. When the boy has succeeded in keeping the friendship to himself, he isolates my son from playing in the group. I spoke to the boy and his parents, and they don't seem to care. The school has known since kindergarten. My son is upset and frustrated and is talking about "beating him up." Help!
A: Help your son find places to make friends where the neighbor is not present. Perhaps your son could join a Boy Scout troop, take a computer or art class, or attend a church without the other boy around. In that way, he could make friends without fear of the neighbor taking them.
You may also want to help your son feel more confident in his own friendship skills. Talk with the school counselor; he or she may be able to give your son some individual time or include him in a small group on making and keeping friends. The counselor could also help your son work on managing his friendship problems. At ten, he should be able to work through this without feeling quite so frustrated and without involving you.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.