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Most social problems children experience, such as feeling left out or switching social groups, are very normal, according to Dr. Thompson. In fact, these situations can help the child understand treachery, loyalty and friendship. Your child does not need you to step in and try to make things better—your involvement could make things worse.

However, a child who is ostracized or rejected—neglected in every category—may need adult intervention and support. The children chronically at the bottom 20 percent of the social hierarchy are at risk for mental health problems. They may never be able to make a friend, year after year, and need you to step in. You should talk to your child's teacher, and you may need to get your child into a social skills group or even psychotherapy if you suspect he or she is depressed.

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