why does my child not want to play with friends

As a parent, it can be concerning when your child doesn’t seem interested in playing with friends. You may wonder if there’s something wrong with them or if you’re doing something wrong. Friendship and social interaction are vital aspects of life, and you want your child to enjoy the company of other kiddos. 

The truth is, there are many reasons why a shy child may have a harder time making friends. Some of these reasons are perfectly standard, while others may be a sign of a more serious situation.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common reasons why children don’t want to play with friends, as well as some tips on how to encourage positive social behaviors.

Why a Child Doesn’t Want to Play With Friends

If your child doesn’t want to play with friends, it’s important to first understand why. Once you know the reason, you can start to take steps to encourage positive social behaviors. With your support, your child can learn the skills they need to make friends and start living a happy and fulfilling social life.

Lack of Connection

One of the most common reasons why children don’t want to play with friends is simply because they don’t feel connected to them. This could be because they have different interests, values, or personalities. You don’t want to become friends with everyone you meet, and neither will your child. 

Consider introducing your kid to other children with similar interests. Does your child love soccer? A soccer camp is a great place to start. Is your child fascinated by space? Then a trip to the local family-friendly science center could be beneficial. 

Low Self-Confidence

Another common reason why children don’t want to play with friends is because they have low self-confidence. They may be afraid of being rejected or ridiculed, so they avoid social situations altogether. Remember, confidence is a trait that can be encouraged and built up over time. If your child struggles with low self-esteem, now is a great time to start combating that with engineered success experiences. 

Limited Socialization Experience

Children who have limited socialization experience may be less likely to play with friends. When children haven’t had a chance to build relationships with others their own age, they may not immediately start socializing in a new setting.

You may just need to give your child time to learn and get comfortable. Slowly introduce more and more social settings until they become pros.

Cognitive/Behavioral Differences

In some cases, a child’s reluctance to play with friends may be due to cognitive or behavioral differences. For example, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have difficulty understanding social cues or interacting with other children in a typical way. Cues that your child may have a behavioral difference include difficulty maintaining eye contact, disinterested body language, and lack of communication skills. 

These disorders are common, and many diagnosed children develop helpful mechanisms that allow them to socialize and make friends. 

How to Encourage Positive Social Behaviors

If you’re concerned about your child’s lack of interest in playing with friends, there are a few things you can do to encourage positive social behaviors.


One of the most important things you can do is to encourage your child to play with friends. Let them know that you think having friends is great fun and that you’re there to support them.

Monitored Practice

You can also help your child practice social skills in a safe and controlled environment. This could involve setting up playdates with other children you know and trust or joining a playgroup or club.

Specialist Intervention

In some cases, your child may benefit from specialist intervention. A therapist or counselor can help your child understand social cues, develop social skills, and overcome any anxiety or fear they may have about interacting with other children. 

A child psychologist, psychiatrist, or even medical doctor can help diagnose your child with a disorder and get them any treatment they may need. 

A Premier Educational Center

Child learning centers like after school programs, preschools, and early education daycares all offer a unique opportunity. They are safe spaces designed to encourage and facilitate healthy friendships in children. Not every education center does this as effectively, so look for a facility that hires experienced teachers and offers plenty of enrichment and opportunities for play. 

Proper Socialization With Cadence Education

Looking for a premier educational center that can help your child with their social skills? Cadence Education is a leading provider of social skills training for children, providing top educational experiences, social activities, and motor development opportunities.

Cadence Education’s programs are designed to help children develop the social skills they need to succeed in school, at home, and in their community. Their programs are delivered by experienced and certified professionals and offer a variety of services to meet the individual needs of each child.

Contact Cadence Education today to get started.