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Our 7 year-old son has a 6 year-old girl friend and the 2 were really very close friends - one heart and one soul.

Now she's moving for 3 years to another country (very far away) and the evening after her family's "farewell party" he suddenly cried and was very very sad about loosing his best and only friend.

It seems quite difficult (and I know myself that it is not easy to find such good soul-mate friends) to find new/other close friends. It adds to the problem, that he is "less wild" than most other boys, so he often prefers being with girls. He just started going to school and knew nearly no one in his class from before (while most of the others seemed to know each other already). At the moment it seems that there is none of the boys in his class who has the potential for becoming a new best friend... (I'm not yet sure about the girls.)

What can we do to help him finding new/more friends?

  • Sure, we will also try to help him to keep in touch with the girl (via phone/skype), but the risk is there that they are going different ways.
  • And we will try to encourage him to meet with other children in his age from school or from the neighborhood.

candidates

remark: sure I don't want to decide for him which friends to choose, but I see which children he likes and which might fit to him

  • There is one really nice girl in the neighborhood (and they seem to get along very well together), but her best friend (another girl) does not like our son and is very jealous if her friend has other friends besides her... so that could become very difficult and lead to our son feeling and being excluded, as soon as they are all three together...

  • There is one boy in our street, they now walk to school together (but are in different classes) - they seem to have fun together mostly, but the other boy is often too wild for our son.

  • There's another boy we know from the kindergarden, but he's younger than your son and not yet in school, so I'm not sure if that might work well...


EDIT

2nd remark: If that sounded like our son does not like meeting with other children for playing, you got me wrong.

He is also willing to meet with other children of his age (boys and girls), I just wonder how he can find again such a good an close friend as this leaving girlfriend.

He already joins group activities like sports, swimming etc., so he also gets in contact with other children.

4

What can we do to help him finding new/more friends?

Here are some activities available in my area that expose my son to more children:

  • Going to the library (in general)
  • Going to age-appropriate reading activities (such as at the library, or through the community or church)
  • Community playgroup (Here there's a mom group, where moms bring their children to playgrounds, go for walks, go to free activities)
  • Join an extra-curricular activity (through school or a parks and recreation program)
  • Sign up for some private training (music lessons, martial arts, art classes, LEGO playgroup)

Different local communities will have more or less options available for youth, but in my experience even small towns tend to have some regular activities that children can be a part of. I would recommend utilizing these resources even if your child wasn't having issues with a friend. It exposes them to new experiences and ideas, and might help them find a skill, talent, or passion.

What I wouldn't necessarily do is just encourage your child to meet with other children. That's too broad of a directive. Instead, you could make more specific requests:

"Was that Johnny you were playing with? Do you want to see if he wants to come over and play?"

"I was thinking of visiting Suzie's mom, do you want to come with me and play with Suzie?"

In this way, you're giving him very clear options, and not phrasing things in a way that puts pressure on to finding friends. Instead, you're just setting up opportunities for play.

If he declines, you can use this as an opportunity to ask him why he doesn't want to play/visit and try to address his concerns.

If your son is hesitant about attending any of the above activities, or going on play dates, you can assure him that you won't make him stay if he's unhappy. This means he needs to be able to contact reliably contact you if you're not present at the activity. You may have to give a heads-up to the activity leader, or the other parent, to let them know he's going through a rough time and may want to leave on short notice.

Using these and similar strategies will help your son find new friends on his own. You're putting him in social positions where he has the opportunity to develop bonds at his own pace. Even if he doesn't find a fast friend right away, he'll still be actively social and (hopefully) having fun.

  • thank you for your long reply: I've added some remarks to my answer (my son is definitely interested also in meeting/playing with other children, so that is not the problem!). But your answer was very helpful, as it reminded me that there is a public kind of "youth club" with activities for his age twice a week and we should let him go there more often! – BBM Dec 21 '14 at 19:35
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    I read the update. Unfortunately, your son may not find such a close friend any time soon. On the other hand, it could happen right away. But in my experience, such close friendships and rare (and thus so cherished). However, just because most friendships are as close as his was, doesn't mean they aren't meaningful. I think it's more important that he's able to develop bonds, even if they aren't all to the same degree. Eventually, his friend-making skills will lead him to another best friend. – user11394 Dec 21 '14 at 19:48
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    Also, in reply to your 2nd remark again, I wasn't meaning to say that your son didn't want to meet new people. I meant my answer to be broad enough to apply to many parents, and I feel that anxiety over new social settings is fairly common in children. – user11394 Dec 22 '14 at 3:59
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It's hard for any parent to watch as their children experiences pain and hurt. But pain and hurt will come into every child's life, and nothing you can do will change that. Of course, context and the child (his personality, etc.) always matter. But it might be more helpful in the long run to help him learn to entertain (and soothe) himself now than to find him new friends.

Help him (with Skype, emailing, etc.) and be there for your son in his pain. Let him feel it, validate it, hear him, answer his questions, tell him he will not always feel the way he does now. Encourage life skills: reading, interests he might have, participation in sports is he is so inclined, and honesty in dealing with his feelings.

In other words, maybe instead of looking for ways to mitigate it, you can help your child to deal with it in a healthy way.

In part, this depends on what message you want to send to your child. Allowing him to deal with the hurt in his own way, and to find his own friends (make sure he has opportunities), lets him know that you believe in his ability to solve his problems and you respect his feelings and his decisions.

But to vet candidates seems to be trying to control his friendships and pain a bit too much, to my thinking. We have far less control over the way our children perceive things than we think we do. They will miss their friends, they will find new friends that they like, regardless of what we plan for them.

Just my $.02, for what it's worth.

  • I don't want to choose his friends for him, I added the information about the "candidates" to ask for other experiences with friends and especially this "triangle" relationship with the nice girl and her jealous friend... – BBM Dec 21 '14 at 15:23

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