My son plays alone at recess

Is this something I should be worried about? Should I do something about it?

Julissa Sparks
Julissa Sparks
Healing Minds for Wholeness
  • It can be tricky to figure out if a child is truly satisfied with his lack of friendships. Parents can usually tell when their child is happy. But kids who are unhappy may be masking disappointment, perhaps acting out their feelings in an aggressive manner. Others may internalize symptoms, appearing sad or withdrawn. 
  • A parent may learn a great deal by asking the teachers questions such as whether the child works with others on group projects or if he eats lunch alone. A parent can also talk with the recess supervisor about what happens on the playground, and whether your child stays on the sidelines of play, unsure of how to join the group. 
  • Therespectfully is a difference between kids who are shy but happy and kids who feel isolated because they do not know how to make friends. Itis not necessarily that there is something wrong with that child, but they will in fact need help and suggestions for breaking into a peer group
  •  Ask a child if there is someone he would like to have over to play. If a mom or dad can make the play dates happen, or if they hit on an activity the child truly enjoys, the young person may begin to forge friendships on their own. 
  • I encourage well-meaning parents to choose words carefully. Use phrases like, "Hey, I noticed something," or "Let me help you be successful." By showing respect, parents should feel more comfortable nudging their children beyond their comfort zone.
  • When to seek professional help. When does isolation raise a red flag for long-term issues? True personality disorders are not typically diagnosed until adulthood. Still, professional counseling should be considered if the anti-social behavior is causing the child significant distress, perhaps keeping him from functioning in everyday activities. Also, parents should pay attention to how the child's social behavior changes over time such as social anxiety. 

The vast majority of children who define "quality time" as time alone are perfectly happy, healthy and normal. If the child is able to nurture at least one friendship, exhibiting what experts call "social reciprocity," then parents can relax, and can cherish that child who enjoys the pleasure of his or her own company. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Vivian D. Echevarria Guzman, MSC, LPC-S, NCC
Vivian D. Echevarria Guzman, MSC, LPC-S, NCC
Bilingual Licensed Professional Counselor

My son plays alone at recess.

Is this something I should be worried about? Should I do something about it?

Every mom is the expert on their children’s behavior.  First of all, I suggest checking with your son, asking him if he is happy while playing alone, or does he complain that no one wants to play with him?  Does he plays alone in school, but is social in other environments, with family or neighbors?

Playing alone is healthy for children, it helps them to be independent and confident, it allows them to explore their environment and use their imagination, among other benefits.

 On the other hand, it is also important to develop social skills early on and become confident in our skills as we grow.  Children go through stages of exploration until they develop a sense of “social confidence”. Depending on your son’s age, he might need some input or advice.  Provide the opportunity to interact with other children, without pushing it.  Take him to the park to play with a friend or to children’s activities in your neighborhood.  Later ask him, what did he thought of the activity, and if he enjoyed playing there.  Children also follow their parent’s model, so you can encourage social interaction by greeting other and asking your son to do the same, ask him to receive the guests who come to the house with you and sit to enjoy the conversation. 

If you notice any shakiness, becoming tearful, anxious or aggressive when approaching social encounters, you may want to talk to the school counselor or children’s therapist to evaluate those symptoms and rule out any behavioral problems or social anxiety.


Mi hijo juega solo en el receso.

¿Debería preocuparme al respecto?  ¿Debería hacer algo al respecto?

Cada mama es experta en la conducta de sus hijos.  Primero que nada te sugiero que revises con tu hijo y le preguntes si él se siente contento jugando solo, o si se queja porque nadie quiere jugar con él.   Observa si él juega solo en la escuela, pero es sociable en otros ambientes como con la familia  o los vecinos. 

Jugar solo puede ser saludable para los niños, les ayudo a ser independientes, desarrollan sentido de seguridad, y les permite explorar su ambiente y utilizar su imaginación, entre otros beneficios.

Por otro lado, también es importante desarrollar destrezas sociales y perfeccionarlas con la práctica.   Los niños van por etapas de exploración y prueba hasta que desarrollan un nivel de confianza en sus destrezas sociales.  Dependiendo de la edad de tu hijo, puede que el necesite algunos consejos.  Provéele la oportunidad de interactuar con otros niños, sin obligarlo. Ya sea yendo al parque a jugar con vecinos, o a actividades comunitarias infantiles con algún amigo.  Luego pregúntale como le pareció la actividad y si le gusto compartir allí.  También recuerda que los niños siguen el modelo de sus padres, así que puedes motivarlo invitándolo a que salude a otros después de ti, o invitándolo a recibir a la visita que llega a la casa y que los acompañe durante la conversación.

Si observas que tu hijo está nervioso, lloroso, o agresivo cuando se acerca alguna actividad social, consulta con el consejero escolar o un consejero infantil para evaluar sus síntomas y descarta cualquier problema de conducta o ansiedad. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room. La información provista es para propósito general basado en información mínima, no constituye aviso medico. Esta información tampoco constituye una comunicación directa con un consejero o terapista y no crea una relación entre cliente y terapeuta o desarrolla ningún privilegio. Si tiene pensamientos suicidas o está en crisis puede llamar al 911 o visitar su sala de emergencias mas cercana.
Jessica Dobbs
Jessica Dobbs
Therapist

I recommend asking your son about the reasons he chooses to play alone at recess. If he is happy on his own and you know he has some friends, I would not be very concerned. However, there may be bullying going on at school. In the case of bullying, it may be a situation where you as his parent will need to step in.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Psychotherapist, Jungian, Hypnotherapy

Humans are social creatures so this can be an alarming thing for a parent to deal with, just like adults children are not the same and some children are more social than others, if he plays alone at recess (all the time) it would worry myself as well, however recess is only one domain of life, does he have friends outside of school or daycare? Does he socialize in other situations or is it just at recess where this occurs? If this is a global problem occurring at other social times it may be indicative of something deeper going on, if perhaps it is occurring "just during recess" it could be something else altogether. I would request reports from all teachers and caregivers concerning socialization and make a choice on whether or not to evaluate further.

Hope this helps,

C

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

The answer depends on how the other areas of your son's life are doing.

Is he happy or does he seem happy, playing alone during recess?

Does he have friends in other social circles besides the students whom he's with at recess?

How is his academic progress?

How is his social integration among his classmates?

Are there any special or unusual circumstances in the home and family environment?

Go through this list to form a fuller idea of whether your son simply likes alone time and takes this option during recess, or if any if the above areas show stress or difficulty for him and which need to be further understood and handled.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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