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My son is 5 years 8 months old. He finds it difficult to get along with friends in his school or in our neighborhood. I have observed that he becomes angry with small mistake of his friends and part from them during play. Another fact is that when he sees his friends and deep into play, he loses control and does things which are annoying to them. I always receive complaints from his friends that he is annoying. Many times no one wants to play with him for such behaviour. This gives him even more low in confidence to make new friends. Please help.

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Does your son struggle in this same way when playing with just one other person? It looks like he struggles most in larger groups. That is not an unusual pattern for a more introverted child. –  gadfly1974 Jun 27 at 8:39

2 Answers 2

Some lack of social skills is to be expected at your son's age. But this is concerning to parent and child.

You say that your son

becomes angry with small mistake of his friends and part from them during play.

It sounds like he's got an "entitlement" thing going: he expects things to go his way, and if they don't, he's upset.

I don't often point to parents for children's behaviors, but in this case, I think you need to look at what goes on in the home. This behavior doesn't usually exist in isolation, i.e. if this is the case, I would expect he does this at home to some degree as well. Is he an only child? Does he have a low tolerance for other causes of frustration? How is it handled at home? Do you anticipate his needs before expresses them, or fulfill them quickly to avoid any unpleasantness?

You also say

when he sees his friends and deep into play, he loosed his control and does things which are annoying to them.

This is attention-seeking behavior. The thought behind this is that negative attention is better than none. Unfortunately it will reinforce bad behavior (he learns that he gets attention by behaving badly) and poor self-esteem (because it will make him an even less desirable playmate.) The answer is not to shower him with attention at home. It is to build up his ability to tolerate frustration of his wishes. It is important for the child to learn how to deal with failure or frustration without losing self-esteem.

If the above sounds right to you, it might be time for some help. All the potential causes for his behavior can't really be discussed here, nor can all the behavioral issues be addressed simply. I would suggest you make an appointment with his doctor and discuss the issues; if your doctor feels it is appropriate, he can refer you to a pediatric counselor. While you wait, keep a little diary of behaviors that are problematic so you can discuss specific behaviors as well as general ones with your doctor.

This is an issue which is appropriate to take to his doctor.

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As far as reacting to little mistakes: It may be important for you to show him by example how to respond when someone makes a small mistake. Next time you observe someone making a small mistake respond with an acceptable reaction, such as ignoring it, acknowledging it an moving on, directing your reaction to action of the mistake rather than the person who made it. Also, when you see someone else showing the kind of response to little mistakes that you would like your son to make, praise that person and point out how great the reaction was, in a way that your son can hear and see your approval.

As far as losing control. That's a separate issue, and a very important one. It is important for both you and your son to learn to recognize the thoughts and feelings that lead up to and precede the loss of control. It is very important to distinguish the thoughts from the feelings-- because he can learn to control his thoughts, but controlling feelings is too difficult for children (and adults).

Try reading about CBT-- cognitive behavioral therapy.

The last point is probably the most important. Confidence. Your son will gain confidence by you praising him for things that matter to you and to him. Think about what matters, and when he does something worthy (eg creates something, helps someone, controls his actions, makes you smile, tries hard at something)-- praise him and tell him how proud you are of him! Find a ways to reward him and show and tell him you love him every day, and his confidence will grow.

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