Social Difficulties


Social Difficulties

Friendships are important for a child’s development.  They provide a sense of belonging and a feeling of being valued and this helps kids to feel confident and happy.  When kids have trouble developing friendships it can negatively affect their self-esteem and put them at higher risk for other emotional problems.

Some kids have a natural and innate ability to develop friendships, while others require a bit of extra help. Signs that might indicate a need for intervention are:

  • Trouble making friends
  • Trouble keeping friends
  • Recurrent bullying
  • Few friendships with same-age peers and preferring friendships with older or younger children instead
  • A preference to spend time doing solitary activities (e.g. reading in the library) during recess and lunch
  • Frequent arguments and fallouts with friends

Social difficulties may be a symptom of an underlying problem – like in the case of Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADHD – but they may also be the result of lagging social skills.  Either way, it’s worthwhile seeking the advice of a child clinical psychologist.


Bullying is a serious problem in Australian schools. As many as 1 in 6 kids are bullied at school on a weekly basis. As well, the ever increasing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook means that bullying is no longer limited to the school environment; many students are now bullied at home as well.

What Is Bullying?

The term ‘bullying’ encompasses a range of different behaviour. Some bullying incidents are subtle (e.g. exclusion from a game in the playground) while others are more overt (e.g. physical fights). Common forms are bullying parents should be aware of include:

  • Physical Bullying – hair pulling, hitting, pushing
  • Verbal Bullying – name calling, teasing, or insults
  • Social Bullying – social exclusion, malicious rumors
  • Cyber Bullying – social and verbal bullying that occurs via social networking sites or text

How Does Bullying Impact A Child?

Whatever the form, bullying can:

  • Make a child feel lonely and helpless
  • Negatively affect a child’s self-esteem
  • Make a child feel anxious and unsafe at school
  • Increase a child’s risk for depression
  • Make a child feel rejected, confused, and ashamed

What Are Bullying Warning Signs?

Unfortunately 1 in 5 bullied kids feel too ashamed to speak up and seek help and their bullying continues undetected. Signs that might indicate that a child is being bullied include:

  • Unexplained (or poorly explained) cuts and bruises
  • Increased complaints of headaches or stomach aches
  • Changes to appetite
  • Changes to sleep
  • Behavioural changes
  • School refusal or anxiety about going to school
  • Low mood or increased irritability
  • A loss of enjoyment of usually enjoyable activities