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.

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:34:27

This might be a good example of the kind of thing. One another message board someone says "A friend forced her two sons to take swimming lessons. One hated it, but her reasoniing was "We live next to the canal, you need to be able to swim. Once you can swim and get your self out of trouble you can stop". We got him to ride his bik with this logis saying once you can cycle you will know for the rest of your life and won't have to do it again if you don't want to. So a sobbing child gave in and learned to cycle. As soon as he took off by himself he cycled a fair distance. Got off, picked up his bike and told me to put it in the car. I asked why and he said "you said once i learn to do it I won't ever have to do it again" he has kept up that line for a year now

annh Wed 10-Oct-12 11:40:54

Well, lots of children are not bothered about after-school or weekend activities or are too tired to want to do them. However, not even wanting to do things with you as a family sounds a bit extreme. How is he at school? Does he take part enthusiastically in e.g. PE, the Christmas production or does he have to be persuaded to do that as well?

What does he actually do all the time he is not in school - tv, computer, lego?? Does he have friends in school? Do they come around to play, meet in the park etc or is he really completely solitary once not in school?

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:49:23

He loves lego and swimming and he is happy to go and do these. He is particularly friendly with two boys who when they aren't in thier activities are in our house nearly all the time. The thing is those boys are going to more and more activities and he is more and more on his own as a result. He isn't particularly keen on TV and he has a DS but while he does play it he has been told it is his responsibility to charge it up which he usually forgets to do. He plays it no more than 3 hours per week. If even that

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:50:58

He isn't very outgoing but is happy with the school plays, he read at school masss the other day without any antics or any noticeable anxiety and as I said above we have no trouble getting him to go

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 11:51:31

I would NOT worry about this at all. Six hours of socialising out of the house is quite enough for many adults never mind children. I would let him be.

If there's a child stealing his money that, however, does need to be dealt with.

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:55:45

How? Especially if he thinks it is a game

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 11:56:10

He is only 6.
Neither of my older 2 did extra curricular activites at this age. Not even swimming.
ds used to come home from school peopled out. He didn't want to do anything, needed down time and space.
He started doing cubs in year 3. Has since given it up. He didn't want to do after school club until he could go to football club, Y3. I now make him do swimming, but he really isn't interested in organised activities. He would also when younger not want to do bike ride etc because he wanted to hang out at home and build lego. (although, when we got him out on the bike he would enjoy it). He just didn't want there to be a plan, wanted to be free to 'be' in contrast to school.

dd was more sociable, she started afterschool clubs in Y1 and now Y3 does swimming, ballet and brownies.

dd2 is reception. She does swimming and is so tired after school that I can't imagine her doing anything else for ages.

I don't think I would worry.
But i would want to follow up on that comment about the other boy. Chat in a laid back way to him about the boy, maybe he has seen something, or maybe the boy is picking on him.

I am not sure the two things (boy at school, and afterschool activities) are connected.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 11:58:56

I would talk to the school bumpy. You don't know what's going on and so that would be my approach - ie asking the teacher, my son's said this, he thinks it's a game, and I don't understand what's going on, I don't want to get anyone into trouble but I don't want money taken off him, can you help.

What might then happen if it's a sensible teacher which it probably is, is that she or he might have a chat with the class in a general way about sharing but we don't share money etc, I don't know, that sort of thing. Alternatively she could gently talk to your son and say, you don't have to give away your money, it's not a game, you keep it safe. You can probably trust the teacher on this one, she'll understand the dynamic I'm sure. If the problem continues you can raise it again.

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 11:59:32

Everyone seems to be at something everyday and i am worried he will miss out. The bike think is really annoying but I honeslty don't care if he never plays football etc it is the screaming tantrums and the complete unwillingness to try

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:00:26

"peopled out"

Exactly. So well put. There are some people who just like to be on their own, or at home, for a while. Why shouldn't there be children who are like that. I think pushing him "out" will damage his confidence.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:02:40

With the screaming tantrums and unwillingness to try, it may be a habit now whenever he's faced with a suggestion. I do actually have another idea, which is to stop all suggestions and play with him at home a lot yourself, lego or board games etc. He might be ready again in a year. Please don't worry about him missing out, it's pernicious and cruel this sort of thing. Be happy with the way he wants to be. Save your battles for when you must go out as a family.

Brycie Wed 10-Oct-12 12:03:28

Dont' forget, if you keep suggesting things, he tries them and doesn't like, he may develop a "quitter" habit, which is not the best thing in the world.

bumpy06 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:06:19

Yes I think you are right Brycie and we had resolved to do just that last night after yet another argument about beavers. I didn't take him and we played guess who instead. it was fun and easier on me and the rest of the family in the end But then he said the thing about the money and school and I wondered if he was afraid or someone or something. The boy who"takes" the money isn't in beavers though. I don't want him to be a quitter and I don't want him to turn his little brother - who is dying to go to beavers, loves his bike etc - off as he has previously turned him off tennis

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!

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.

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?

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

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

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 12:14:50

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 12:15:58

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 12:16:13

Sorry my typing is awful today

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

Bumpy smile have a lovely winter.

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.

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

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 12:48:54

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!

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 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)

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.

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.

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!

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.

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).

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.

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?

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

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!

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.

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