The Washington Post

What to do with a child who’s happy hanging out at home: Advice from Marguerite Kelly

(Hadley Hooper/For The Washington Post)

“ son won’t take part in any organized activity. He doesn’t like sports even if they’re suggested by us or by a sibling, and when we sent him to camp last summer, he simply walked along with his 16-year-old brother, who was a counselor, rather than hang out with his peers.

“We would love for him to learn how to ride a bike, but he won’t give it a second try, and he has only gone into the water twice at his winter swimming class. I don’t know if my son is too anxious to learn something new or too stubborn to try, but when he says that he won’t do something, no one can change his mind,” says the letter writer, who also notes her son does well in school, enjoys watching PBS kids and has fun playing with a “wild” girl.

Kelly tells this parent to accept the child for who he is, and help him to develop his natural interests.

“To keep him occupied this summer, start encouraging him to do what he does best and not what you want him to do better,” says Kelly.

“You also should learn to read his cues more accurately. His behavior tells you that he doesn’t like to be regimented or to take classes, that he isn’t very competitive, and that he likes the silliness that his wild friend puts into his life but needs some peace and quiet even more. This is how he recharges his emotional batteries.”

Read more of Kelly’s columns on our Advice page, and read her latest chat transcript here.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.