Worried about 6 year old boy who wants to do nothign but go to school and come home and play indoors

(39 Posts)
bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:15:11

This might be long. My 6 year old hates doing any extra curricular activities. He goes to swimming and really enjoys that but won't start anything new. He has been swimming since he was in nursery and is actually very good.

But whenever I suggest he try something new he gets so stressed and then if I push it at all he gets really aggressive and screams, cries, stamps feet etc. By anything I mean going out on his bike with us as a family, going to beavers, tennis, karate, football, drama, music... anything. I decided okay maybe he isn't a sporty type and maybe not very outgoing so beavers seemed like a good idea. As far as I can see if he is simply shy then there is nothing about it that involves exposing yourself like you would have to in drama or something. All this friends do a whole range of things as above but he flat refuses. He acts completely crazy if I even suggest it or anything else. I tell him he is missing out and all his friends do stuff but he doesn't care. He screams and cries and kicks. He was like this starting nursery (and with swimming a bit) and I had to keep him going and he eventually settled in to both. He never complains about school and is doing well there. I feel Like I dont' know what to do should I force him to go although I am not sure I can or do I let him decide not to and then maybe regret it when he is older.

At first I thought of maybe the fact that my husband and I work he just wants downtime at home with us which I could accept but then he doesn't want to go out with us on bikes etc.

Then my mind move on to thinking whether he has a psychological problem. Then last night as he was going to bed he said in a completely calm way there is no point in giving me money for fruit tuck shop because X (a boy in my class) just takes it off me. He was almost laughing as he said it. Like he thinks it is a game. This boy has never really registered with us before. He seems nice and my son has always been happy at school and wants to go in the morning.

Brycie Thu 11-Oct-12 23:34:24

Good luck to all those with similar children. I think it IS hard to find equanimity sometimes when everyone else is doing all this stuff and talking about it and going of in lifts together to dance classes and the boys team up for football practice on Saturdays and all that stuff. I think it's particularly hard with the first child, to be honest. But it's really fine not to do it.

LapinDeBois Thu 11-Oct-12 23:23:36

So glad I found this thread. My DS (just five) sounds very similar to yours. It's funny, because when I read your post I thought 'you should just let him chill out', but I often find that philosophy hard to to apply to my own son, because I think there is a big expectation to do loads of extra-curricular stuff. I also get quite a negative response to suggestions of family excursions, although this has got gradually better over time. I think it's a combination of not wanting to be co-erced, and not wanting the pressure of being expected to have fun (he's very sensitive about 'trying', and having things expected of him). I do think you have to be quite strong to stand against the tide of other parents with ultra-sociable children (I think it's particularly true among working parents who need to use either after school clubs or playdates with other kids to sort out childcare, so you're surrounded by kids who are constantly out and about with other children). When DS started Reception a few weeks ago we had a new parents' meeting, and I was really surprised that the biggest 'complaint' from loads of the parents was that the school does not allow Reception kids to join any extra-curricular activities - they wanted them to be doing loads of sport clubs after (and even before!) school. Personally I think a full day at school is tiring enough when you're only four or five!

The one thing I do find hard, though, is how to manage both my sons (the other one's two) during that 3-5pm slot. DS1 wants to chill out, but ideally with me (eg reading a book, playing a board game etc). Which would be lovely, but DS2 either wants to go out/run around, or also wants my attention to do books/puzzles etc. I'm finding it quite hard to share my time and attention out fairly!

Kleinzeit Thu 11-Oct-12 15:04:13

Then last night as he was going to bed he said in a completely calm way there is no point in giving me money for fruit tuck shop because X (a boy in my class) just takes it off me. He was almost laughing as he said it.

Uh-oh bumpy the near-laughter tells you “I’m not coping with this” and it might have happened more than once, too. Otherwise your DS would be telling you furiously “this kid took my fruit money off me today!!!!”. Do follow this up with the school.

At his age, swimming once a week is probably plenty anyway, so you could just decide to let him be. His friends may simply be more active and outgoing than he is.

At that age my very conservative DS could be bribed to try out a new activity if I rode out the initial tantrum and told him that he only had to try it for two sessions and that I'd give him sweeties when he came back. That got him over the hump and afterwards he was usually willing to carry on. One or two different activities in a week was plenty. DS eventually stunned me at about age 9 or 10 by telling me he wanted to join a couple of activities that his friends did. By then I’d given up smile

I think 6 year olds who are out at activities every night are missing out tbh. Playing is the most important thing in a child's development IMO and children who are busy with tennis, football, etc etc every night of the week don't get chance to do imaginative play. My 6 yr old ds is 'peopled' out after a school day. He comes home and plays imaginative games with Lego, playmobil etc with his sister or by himself. The only activity we have insisted upon is swimming for the reasons you give.
Why not wait til he's older and chooses for himself activities he is interested in?

Valdeeves Thu 11-Oct-12 01:38:09

I think he may well be tired / sort out the money thing immediately though. Bullying however small stops a child feeling safe.

Tgger Wed 10-Oct-12 21:29:56

Chill out if you can. They are all different, and he is not missing out, not really at 6 by not doing those things. My DS is almost 6 and he is about to start swimming after school. He has asked about a couple of other after school activities but they are not convenient with pick up with younger DD and so I have said no for now. I also really value down time. He is very creative, has been since little and he is happy busying himself at home. I also like time to chat and chill out, and with DD to consider too don't want to be a taxi driver just yet. That time will come perhaps as others have said. I think it seems to be the fashion these days to do loads of activities, but I know some parents do this as they find it hard to keep their DCs "entertained" at home. Generally this is not a problem in our house, I love seeing DS and DD putting on their own little shows and DS giving us phonics lessons (cute).

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 14:58:47

I agree with babyboomer. Also I agree with this

"I look at my four adult children now and wish I hadn't worried about their shyness, their reluctance to take part in school plays, their wish to stay at home, close to us "

I feel very lucky that I've had this epiphany while my children are still pretty young, teenagers yes but I did realise it some time ago. It's awful that mums like bumpy are made to feel like they should be doing something different and better and more interesting blah blah or their children miss out. It's nonsense.

sittinginthesun Wed 10-Oct-12 14:30:45

Just wanted to add a quick post about my eldest.

At 6 he did swimming lessons, but that was it. He simply refused to consider anything else - tears and sobbing, the lot!

I backed right off, and then he asked if he could do a school sports club before school. Then a school tennis club.

Fast forward to year 4, and he does football 3 times a week, tennis 3 times a week, piano, 2 school sports clubs, swimming... I have become a taxi service!

babyboomersrock Wed 10-Oct-12 14:29:18

Must just add that opting out of family activities wasn't allowed in our house - if we went out walking/biking/picnicking, we all went. Perhaps he'd be happier to do these family things if he didn't feel it was part of a general plan to get him out of the house, though? If the pressure was off over other activities, he might relax a bit.

The stealing issue - I'd be straight down to the school about that one; the other child needs to realise he can't behave like that.

babyboomersrock Wed 10-Oct-12 14:23:36

OP, I think you should take the pressure right off; even if you mention only one activity a year, he'll know it's coming, and that you're still hoping he'll cave in. Don't let him feel he's a disappointment to you.

My children (four of them) were happy just to come home from school, do homework, play indoors or in the garden, eat, have stories and bath, and go to bed. Frankly, I think that's quite enough at that age, and for quite a few years beyond.

Try not to worry about what other children are doing - your little boy is only young; he'll be fine. My eldest boy tried cubs and didn't like them - the other two boys didn't even want to try. My daughter went to brownies when I helped out for a while, but didn't stay. I didn't think of them as being "quitters" because they didn't want to continue - why aren't they allowed to try things out? If I start going to a book club, for example, and don't like it, I am certainly not going to persist - life's too short.

In general children seem to be expected to do far more "activities" than they used to. At my advanced age, I can tell you that playing indoors is possibly more creative and educational than many formal activities, and it's a useful skill to be able to entertain oneself.

I look at my four adult children now and wish I hadn't worried about their shyness, their reluctance to take part in school plays, their wish to stay at home, close to us - because I did, sometimes, when I compared them to others. They're bright, happy, sociable, busy individuals who just took time to develop confidence, and I'm glad we gave them that time.

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 14:03:27

gourd,
to ge honest, your post made me feel tired! I know my ds wouldn't want to do most of that during term time.

It really is ok not to do all that, if they don't want to (and lovely to do it together if they do want to)

gourd Wed 10-Oct-12 13:39:46

RE: Money - definitely find out what's going on at school. He might be being bullied.
RE: Activities: He may find the school/working week tiring and just not feel like doing much else which is understandable. The best thing you can do is stop pressuring him, and just take him out and about to see people kayaking, rock/wall climbing, horse riding (our local park has an outdoor centre where all this goes on, plus we live near stables and see horse riders in our street at least once a week so LO is interested in these activities already aged 2YO), also see local sports/ cycling events (local cycle clubs kids cyclo cross is fun (an hour in muddy field once a week)), If you don't already, go to the theatre with him (small local amateur groups often have cheaper venues and ticket prices than big drama or ballet companies) and go to music concerts (local music colleges often have free or cheap concerts) and to local sports clubs/football matches etc and let him tell you that he wants to have a go at that rather than you telling him he ought to...

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 12:48:54

and when ds gave up cubs they were surprised, because once he was there he joined in and did his best and 'appeared' to enjoy it (and probably did at times) It just wasn't better that lego and k'nex!

annh Wed 10-Oct-12 12:48:44

OK, if he is happy in school, takes part and regularly has friends round I really wouldn't worry. Not everyone wants to take part in activities and he may well change his mind in the next year.

The money thing is completely different. I would have a word with the teacher and also tell him that this is HIS money for HIM to use and not something that he has to share. On a more general note, isn't it a recipe for disaster asking 6 year olds to bring money in for fruit? How much of that gets lost or forgotten every day? And shouldn't they be getting free fruit at school at that age anyway?

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 12:47:23

bumpy, he isn't missing out he is learning creativity and originality (lego is better than beavers grin
He is giving himself time to process all he has learnt so he goes into school ready to learn again
He is giving his brain free time. All the best inventors say they need this sort of time to come up with their best ideas
He is learning engineering skills
he is learning social skills, turn taking, competition, strategy (playing games with you)
he is learning to fill his emotional tank by time with the people he cares about

Actually my ds is quite bright and likes to come up with his own ideas. He finds cubs etc just too similar to school

EduCated Wed 10-Oct-12 12:28:09

Sounds like me as a child. I eventually relented and went to Brownies grin I think just leave it for now. No suggestions beyond things you need to do as a family, and make sure that his not wanting to do things doesn't overrule DS 2 want to do stuff, IYSWIM.

In a year or so, he may want to try something, he may not. There's no law that children have to enjoy activities and stuff. Perhaps hes just one of life's introverts smile Christmas sounds like there could be some new board games and activity sets!

You do need to speak to school about the money though, because that's just not on.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:17:28

Bumpy smile have a lovely winter.

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:16:13

Sorry my typing is awful today

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:15:58

I hoped me might eventually hit on something he would like to try but in the end I opted for beavers but to no avail

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:14:50

I didn't suggest them all at once. Each new term I suggest something he might like to try. Especially when his friends are starting new things. We never actually try them. So far he went to about 6 tennis lessons and absolutely refused to join in. He went to beavers twice and seemed to enjoy it once we got through the door. Everything lese was just a suggestion

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:13:13

Oh we don't do any of these karate etc. I just suggested these things to him as possible and he screamed

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:12:02

You've convinced me. Feel like crying now for the right reasons

horsebiscuit Wed 10-Oct-12 12:11:57

I agree with Steppemum that the money and the activities thing are probably not connected.
Bumpy, do you and his dad do many clubs, hobbies and activities? The list you reel off of beavers, swimming, karate, tennis, drama, biking etc makes me feel tired just reading it. If he sees you enjoying a sport or hobby then that's a good start. Personally I just want to see my friends and MN (equivalent of Lego I suppose) after work, and it sounds like he's the same?

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:11:03

Also it's quite fun to be different. When the winter comes and it's cold and wet, and everybody is arriving home with exhausted children at 6 or 7, having to do homework and tea and bath and schoolbags, yours will be fed, homeworked and playing lovely games before reading a story. Mmmmm. How nice is that.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:08:52

Bumpy all I've done is read about your boy and I like him. Not everybody is ready for the hamster wheel at the ageof six, and I think for him it really would feel like a hamster wheel! He knows what he wants. I should think he's great company when you are not "arguing" about activities. I would make the most of it!

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