For many people, relating to others in social situations is easy and “normal”. For other people, social relations are a mystery and a challenge. From this second group there are even people who find social interaction so challenging that they cannot function properly when attempting to relate to others. Your son may be part of this second or third group of people. For children who are socially challenged the best thing you can do is to teach them and help them learn.
Keep in mind that your son may truly not be aware of what he is doing “wrong” in these social situations. The fact that he says, “Nobody loves me”, indicates that there is some level of confusion in his mind about what he is doing wrong. He perceives that there is something wrong with him because he cannot understand what he may be doing wrong to cause people to be angry or frustrated with him.
Take some time to explain to him some of the proper ways to interact with others. Explain to him exactly how some of the things he says sound to other people and why they may be upsetting. Give him examples of what he could say instead. You might even try to do some role playing where you play the part of the other person and he is given the task of saying something to you.
If you can take time to explain each situation to him he can grow in knowledge and perhaps learn the skills he is lacking so his adult life can be easier. If, instead, you remain angry at him for his lack of perception, he may become even more confused and “give up” trying to be polite or understand people, feeling that he has “no hope” and that he will never understand what people want or what he is doing or saying “wrong”.
A second thing to remember is that children crave discipline. By discipline I do not mean punishment. By discipline I mean setting firm rules, having steady limits and gently enforcing those rules and limits.
To a child, especially a young one, discipline is a sign of love and setting limits can be reassuring. A child who does not have limits and rules feels fearful and unloved. Many parents, mistaking the word “discipline” for the word, “punishment” throw out both methods at once and believe that letting a child enjoy life without limits or a lot of rules is the best thing for them. They try to give the child an abundance of love, they are patient when the child is unkind and they do everything to reassure the child.
What they don’t realize is that a child that is acting out is actually seeking discipline. They are seeking limits and rules and need those to help them feel safe.
If you let your son know what you expect from him, gently repeat your expectations, allow him to experience the consequences of his actions and explain to him that some actions do have consequences (i.e.: if you say something bluntly to someone they may get angry) then he will feel safer and will have less of a need to act out.
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