Friends Holding a Soccer Ball
Credit: Monkey Business Images/

Q: My 7-year-old son has a serious heart condition.  He's in a new school and attending second grade. As an only child, he is having a hard time making friends. Playdates are out of the question because most parents work, leaving kids in after-school programs. I can't put him in sports because of his condition. He's also a little awkward because he's so shy.  I'm extremely attached to him and I want to protect him against mean kids, but how can I teach him to fend for himself? And how can I learn to let go?


Teach your child to make friends by having the playdates at your home to motivate your inhibited/introverted child. If weekday playdates are difficult, set aside weekend time to invite friends so you can oversee the play. Have just one friend visit at a time, to avoid overwhelming your shy child, but rotate the different friends.  They should all be classmates so that school time can then become more enjoyable for all involved.  Have back-up games and activities planned to make the playdates work.

Answered by Dr. Harley A. Rotbart