Social problems at school: How and when to jump in

By Amanda Morin

If kids are having a social problem at school, how involved should you get? There’s no set answer to that question. Each situation is different. Here are some basic things to consider.

  • How old is the child? Younger kids may not have the experience or maturity to handle social problems on their own. Older kids may be embarrassed to have adults fight their battles for them.
  • Does the child have the skills to handle this? If you’re sure kids know what to do, let them do it themselves.

You can’t always keep kids from having their feelings hurt. But it helps to validate what they’re going through, and to let them know you’re on their side. If you tell them that’s just how it goes and not everyone is going to like them, they may feel unlikeable and that their feelings don’t matter.

Remind kids there are different kinds of friends, too. For example, are they close and into the same things, or are they just school friends? Understanding this helps kids set appropriate expectations on friendships. It can also help them tell the difference between bullying and teasing

By knowing when and how to get involved, you give kids the chance to learn how to handle problems themselves. You can even troubleshoot some problems by role-playing common social situations.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Elizabeth Harstad, MD, MPH is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.