A preteen sitting alone on a park bench

How to Handle Withdrawal in Preteens: Tips and Strategies

Withdrawal in preteens can be a challenging issue to navigate, but with the right tips and strategies, parents and caregivers can effectively support their children through this phase. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of withdrawal in preteens, understand its impact, and discover practical ways to address and prevent it.

Understanding Withdrawal in Preteens

Withdrawal in preteens refers to a common behavior pattern where children become socially withdrawn and exhibit a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of withdrawal in order to intervene and provide the necessary support.

Withdrawal in preteens can have a significant impact on their overall well-being and development. It is a complex issue that requires careful attention and understanding from parents, caregivers, and educators. By gaining a deeper understanding of withdrawal in preteens, we can better equip ourselves to support and guide them through this challenging phase of their lives.

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal in Preteens

Withdrawn preteens often exhibit signs such as:

  • Isolation: They may spend excessive time alone, avoiding social interactions.
  • Loss of interest: Hobbies and activities that once brought joy may no longer appeal to them.
  • Mood changes: Preteens may become increasingly irritable or exhibit sudden mood swings.
  • Low self-esteem: They may express feelings of worthlessness or have a negative self-image.

Recognizing these signs and symptoms is crucial for early intervention. Parents and caregivers should maintain open lines of communication with their preteens, creating a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable expressing their emotions and concerns.

Famous pediatrician Dr. William Sears suggests that parents pay attention to changes in their child’s behavior and seek professional help if necessary. Seeking guidance from a qualified professional can provide valuable insights and strategies to address withdrawal in preteens effectively.

Common Causes of Withdrawal in Preteens

There can be various factors contributing to withdrawal in preteens. Renowned obstetrician Dr. Laura Jana explains that some common causes include:

  • Puberty: The hormonal changes during this period can impact preteens’ mood and behavior. The physical and emotional changes associated with puberty can be overwhelming, leading to withdrawal as a coping mechanism.
  • Social pressure: Preteens may feel overwhelmed by the expectations of their peers. The desire to fit in and be accepted can create immense pressure, causing some preteens to withdraw from social interactions.
  • Academic stress: Increasing academic demands can lead to feelings of anxiety and withdrawal. Preteens may feel overwhelmed by the pressure to perform well academically, leading them to withdraw from social activities and hobbies.

Understanding these causes can help parents and caregivers approach withdrawal with empathy and support. By acknowledging the underlying factors contributing to withdrawal, we can create a nurturing environment that promotes healthy emotional development and resilience in preteens.

It is important to note that withdrawal in preteens is not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon. Each child is unique, and their experiences and circumstances may vary. Therefore, it is crucial to approach withdrawal in preteens with individualized care and attention, tailoring interventions to meet their specific needs.

The Impact of Withdrawal on Preteens

Withdrawal can have significant effects on preteens, both emotionally and academically. Recognizing these impacts is crucial in order to provide appropriate intervention and support.

Preteens, who are in a critical stage of development, often face challenges when dealing with withdrawal. The emotional and psychological effects can be far-reaching and have long-lasting consequences if not addressed effectively.

Emotional and Psychological Effects of Withdrawal

When preteens experience withdrawal, they may struggle with various emotional and psychological challenges. These challenges can manifest in different ways, including:

  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation: Withdrawing from social interactions can lead to a sense of loneliness and isolation, making preteens feel disconnected from their peers.
  • Increased vulnerability to mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety: The lack of social support and engagement can contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health issues in preteens.
  • Difficulties in forming and maintaining healthy relationships: Withdrawal can hinder preteens’ ability to establish and sustain healthy relationships, as they may struggle with trust and communication.

Recognizing the emotional and psychological effects of withdrawal is essential for parents and educators to provide the necessary support and guidance to preteens. Prominent psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman recommends that parents foster resilience by helping preteens develop a positive mindset.

By teaching preteens to focus on their strengths, encouraging them to engage in activities they enjoy, and providing a safe and supportive environment, parents can help preteens navigate the challenges of withdrawal and develop the resilience needed to overcome emotional and psychological difficulties.

Academic and Social Consequences of Withdrawal

In addition to the emotional and psychological effects, withdrawal can also have significant consequences on preteens’ academic performance and social interactions.

When preteens withdraw from their peers and social activities, they may experience a decline in their academic performance. Deteriorating grades and academic disengagement are common consequences of withdrawal. Preteens may struggle to concentrate, lack motivation, and find it challenging to keep up with their schoolwork.

Furthermore, withdrawal can impact preteens’ social interactions. They may find it difficult to make friends and feel excluded from social groups. The lack of social skills and limited ability to express themselves can further hinder their social development.

Psychologist and author Dr. Carol Dweck suggests that parents focus on nurturing a growth mindset to encourage persistence and learning. By emphasizing the importance of effort, resilience, and the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, parents can help preteens overcome the academic and social consequences of withdrawal.

It is crucial for parents, educators, and caregivers to recognize the multifaceted impact of withdrawal on preteens. By providing appropriate intervention, support, and guidance, we can help preteens navigate the challenges they face and foster their overall well-being and development.

Strategies for Addressing Withdrawal in Preteens

Addressing withdrawal in preteens can be a complex and challenging task. It requires a multi-faceted approach that involves creating a supportive environment, promoting open communication, and fostering strong relationships. By implementing these strategies, parents can help their preteens overcome withdrawal and thrive.

Creating a Supportive Environment at Home

A supportive home environment is crucial for preteens experiencing withdrawal. It provides a foundation of stability and understanding. Here are some tips to create a supportive environment:

  • Provide a safe and non-judgmental space where preteens can express their feelings. This can be achieved by actively listening and validating their emotions.
  • Encourage positive family interactions and quality time together. Family activities such as game nights, shared meals, or outings can help strengthen bonds and create a sense of belonging.
  • Validate their emotions and reassure them that they are loved and valued. Preteens need to feel accepted and understood, even when they are going through difficult times.

Dr. Sears, a renowned child psychologist, emphasizes that such an environment fosters trust and helps preteens feel comfortable seeking support when they need it most.

Encouraging Open Communication with Preteens

Open communication is key to understanding preteens’ thoughts and feelings. It allows parents to gain insight into their child’s world and provide the necessary support. Consider the following strategies to encourage open communication:

  • Listen actively and empathetically, allowing preteens to express themselves without interruption. This shows them that their opinions and experiences are valued.
  • Avoid judgment and criticism, creating a safe space for them to be open and honest. Preteens need to feel that their thoughts and emotions are respected, even if they differ from their parents’ perspectives.
  • Promote dialogue by asking open-ended questions and being genuinely interested in their lives. This encourages preteens to share more about their experiences and helps parents understand their concerns.

Well-known developmental psychologist Dr. Erik Erikson emphasizes the importance of healthy communication in building trust and emotional development during the preteen years.

Building Strong Relationships with Trusted Adults

Preteens benefit greatly from having strong relationships with trusted adults outside of their immediate family. These adults can provide guidance, support, and a different perspective. Consider the following strategies to build strong relationships:

  • Encourage preteens to establish connections with positive role models who can provide guidance and support. This can be achieved through mentorship programs, extracurricular activities, or community organizations.
  • Ensure that preteens have access to adult figures they can confide in and seek advice from. This could be a teacher, coach, or family friend who they feel comfortable talking to.
  • Promote involvement in extracurricular activities where preteens can engage with supportive adults. This can include joining clubs, sports teams, or volunteering opportunities where they can interact with mentors and develop meaningful relationships.

Well-regarded pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock believes that nurturing relationships with trusted adults can help preteens develop resilience and navigate challenges more effectively.

Addressing withdrawal in preteens is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and a commitment to creating a supportive environment. By implementing these strategies, parents can empower their preteens to overcome withdrawal and develop the necessary skills to thrive in all aspects of their lives.

Tips for Helping Preteens Overcome Withdrawal

In addition to implementing strategies for addressing withdrawal, there are practical tips that parents and caregivers can employ to help preteens reconnect with their interests and regain confidence.

Encouraging Participation in Activities and Hobbies

To combat withdrawal, parents should encourage preteens to engage in activities that interest them. Some suggestions include:

  • Explore various hobbies and allow preteens to choose activities they enjoy.
  • Encourage participation in sports teams or clubs where they can socialize with peers.
  • Support their interests by providing necessary resources and opportunities for growth.

Psychologist and author Dr. Angela Duckworth suggests that parents help preteens find their passion, which can foster a sense of purpose.

Teaching Coping Skills and Stress Management Techniques

In order to help preteens effectively deal with withdrawal, it is essential to teach them coping skills and stress management techniques. Consider the following:

  • Introduce relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing or mindfulness, to manage stress.
  • Teach problem-solving techniques to help preteens navigate challenging situations.
  • Encourage self-care activities, like exercise or journaling, to promote emotional well-being.

Famed psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis believes that teaching young individuals effective coping mechanisms can promote resilience and psychological growth.

Seeking Professional Help and Counseling Options

If withdrawal persists or significantly affects preteens’ well-being, seeking professional help and counseling options is crucial. Here are some steps to consider:

  • Consult a pediatrician or mental health professional experienced in working with preteens.
  • Explore therapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or play therapy.
  • Participate in support groups or workshops designed for preteens and their parents.

Renowned psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud suggests that professional guidance can facilitate healthy emotional development in preteens.

Preventing Withdrawal in Preteens

While addressing withdrawal is essential, it is equally important to prevent its occurrence in preteens. By creating a nurturing environment and fostering resilience, parents can help preteens develop strong social connections and emotional well-being.

Promoting Healthy Relationships and Social Connections

To prevent withdrawal, parents can focus on:

  • Encouraging preteens to build friendships with peers who share their interests and values.
  • Supporting extracurricular activities that promote social interactions.
  • Facilitating opportunities for preteens to engage in community service, fostering empathy.

Psychologist Dr. John Bowlby highlights the importance of secure attachments and positive relationships in promoting healthy social development.

Fostering a Positive School Environment

Parents should collaborate with schools to create a positive and inclusive environment that supports preteens. Consider:

  • Advocating for anti-bullying measures to ensure preteens feel safe at school.
  • Encouraging teachers to implement cooperative learning strategies to foster teamwork.
  • Supporting initiatives that promote social and emotional learning within the curriculum.

Renowned psychologist Dr. Lev Vygotsky emphasizes that a positive school environment enhances preteens’ cognitive and social development.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence and Resilience Skills

To prevent withdrawal, parents can equip preteens with emotional intelligence and resilience skills. Consider:

  • Teaching preteens to understand and manage their emotions effectively.
  • Encouraging problem-solving and decision-making skills to navigate challenges confidently.
  • Promoting self-compassion and the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

Pioneering psychologist Dr. Daniel Goleman suggests that emotional intelligence is a key factor in preventing social withdrawal.


Handling withdrawal in preteens requires a comprehensive understanding of its causes, impact, and effective strategies for intervention. By creating a supportive environment, encouraging open communication, and providing practical tips for overcoming withdrawal, parents can help their preteens navigate this challenging phase with resilience and confidence. Additionally, by focusing on prevention through promoting healthy relationships, fostering positivity in schools, and teaching emotional intelligence and resilience skills, parents can lay the foundation for their preteens’ long-term social and emotional well-being.