Nobody Likes My Son!

Dear Mamas,
My son Luke is seven and I have noticed that he doesn’t often get asked back after he goes to a friend’s house for a playdate. I work part time and like to have friends come over but it’s really better for me if he can go to a friend’s instead of coming here. When I have time I don’t mind but I admit I don’t do a lot of inviting kids over. Do you think this is why he isn’t getting asked back? What are the best ways to make this whole playdate issue successful?


Hi Liz,

Sorry to hear that the playdate thing is not going too well for your son. It’s hard to know exactly what’s up but I can offer some pointers that hopefully will get things moving in the right direction.

At seven, your son should know how important it is to be POLITE to the hosts (both parent and child). Good manners go very far at this age. Specifically, he should be taught to always:

  • Say hello and goodbye to the hosts. Teach him to look them in the eye and smile while saying it. He should also say, “Thanks for having me. I had a really nice time.” when it’s time to go. True, this stuff is basic but very important and sets a nice tone. It also shows R-E-S-P-E-C-T, which goes a long way when you’re looking to make a good impression.
  • Use those magic words, “Please” and “Thank you” whenever he needs anything or is given anything.
  • Avoid running or yelling in the house. Respect the host family’s home and possessions.
  • Listen to what the rules are and follow them.
  • Keep his hands to himself, don’t get bossy, and share.
  • Avoid whining or repeatedly asking for something to eat, something to drink, something to do…

The other piece to this puzzle involves your role, beyond teaching good manners to your son. I know that you work but so do many parents these days and even if they don’t, their time is as valuable as yours! If you want your son to have friends, you will have to get comfortable with returning the favor when someone hosts your son. It’s important for him to learn how to be a good guest but he also needs to learn how to be a good host. In addition, you should try hard to:

  • Never be late — either coming or going. Other parents resent it when the guest’s mom or dad calls at the last minute to say they are running late. It’s rude and does NOT go over well.
  • Never bring a child to a friend’s house if he is ill. Even if it’s just the sniffles, let the other parent know in advance and offer to reschedule if they would rather avoid the possibility of infecting someone at their house.
  • Make sure your son arrives clean and in reasonably clean clothes. Some parents are really turned off by an unkempt kid and it’s simply good manners for your child to be clean and neat when he visits a friend.
  • Have cash handy and at the ready if the host is taking them to a movie or on an outing. They may refuse to accept the money but will appreciate it if you offer to cover your child’s expenses.
  • Consider bringing a treat, like a plate of home made cookies for the family. It’s a thoughtful way to show the host that you are grateful for your son’s invitation.
  • Make sure that you, too, thank the host sincerely when you pick up your child. Ask how things went and make sure that your son helps to clean up before he leaves.
  • Last but not least, find a time within the next week or two to have the host child over to your place. Give and take is part of the deal.

If you do all that, your son should be well on his way to becoming a social butterfly — or at least a kid who other people enjoy having over. Best of luck to you both.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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One response to “Nobody Likes My Son!”

  1. Katie

    Thanks for the helpful list!

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