Middle School Groups

Does this describe your son in middle school?

  • Has a hard time in unstructured social settings 
  • Had friends in elementary school but seemed to become more socially isolated when he got to 5th grade or middle school
  • Has a tendency to “police” other kids
  • Can be inflexible when interacting with peers
  • Perceive himself as the victim when his words/behaviors have upset his peers
  • Enjoys being around other boys but has trouble engaging with them
  • Claims that his “friends” are kids he plays online video games with
  • Seem to sometimes “lack a filter” or not pick up on social cues
  • Relates better to younger children and adults than his similar-age peers
  • Prefers to engage in screen-based activities than spend time with peers
  • Tries to fit in with a group of peers who are not accepting of him
  • Can act silly to gain attention from his peers
  • Says he has friends that he plays video games or sits at lunch with but has never shown an interest in spending time with them
  • Has participated in  social skills groups with children who had more significant challenges than him
  • Says “no” when you suggest he invites someone over

During middle school social expectations and social executive functioning demands increase significantly.  Boys who struggle with social executive functioning and those who may be socially/emotionally immature for their age often find themselves spending more time home alone, often gaming excessively due to their lack of friendships.  

Sometimes, we find that boys in middle school have developed social anxiety because of their history of unsuccessful social experiences.  In these cases we always address social anxiety first as this must be addressed before social and executive functioning issues. 

Our groups focus on teaching social and social executive functioning skills.  The boys who attend our groups enjoy spending time and learning from each other in a structured but informal environment.   We do not sit around and talk about “social skills” or role play scripted, socially appropriate behaviors.

Topics covered in our middle school groups include:


  • Understanding other’s thoughts and feelings and how you come across to others
  • Developing situational awareness (reading a room)
  • Learning to be more flexible for the sake of being part of a group
  • Sharing an imagination (learning how to share ideas, etc. and collaborate)
  • Being able to take directions from peers and give directions without being bossy
  • Learning how to make plans and scaffold “hanging out” time
  • Showing an interest in other boys in ways that sound natural (aka not sounding like you walked out of a social skills group)
  • Putting problems in a relevant context and engaging in independent problem solving skills
  • Learning how to spend time with other boys, without the use of electronics
  • Sharing the right amount of information in conversations (reciprocal conversations instead of talking at other kids about your interests)
  • Understanding the increased social expectations around hygiene/puberty
  • Learning the “hidden rules” of male-male social communication

Ride the Wave Counseling is known for the unique and effective work we do with boys in middle school.

Please contact us to discuss how we can help your son connect with other boys and develop his social competency.