Social skills not matching cognitive skills(27 Posts)
My DD1 is 2y10 and, I think, very bright. I'm not going to list all of her achievements, but I'd say she's meeting some of the maths targets for Year 1 and some of the reading / writing targets for Reception (I'm a primary school teacher so this isn't based on nothingness).
Problem is, she struggles with social situations. She expects to be able to tell other children what to do, and then does not understand why they won't follow her commands. She is emotionally a 2y10 and she struggles with sharing / taking turns/ rule following like you'd expect. Her cognitive skills don't match with her emotional skills, and that's the main issue.
I don't really know how to socialise her; she gravitates towards older children but they want nothing to do with her because, in their eyes, she's a baby. In her eyes, she's anything but. She is bored of children her own age, but the older children aren't interested in her.
She was in nursery for a term (childminder before that) but it was so noisy, busy and chaotic that no-one really knew who she was. I actually had two quite big safeguarding issues with the place, so I decided to take her out when I went on maternity leave.
She's been at home with me for the last 7 months (with the baby) and she loves learning; she's keen to learn to read, write, count etc but it's the socialising that's the issue.
We go out every day and we meet my NCT lot (ie children she's known since birth) at least once a week, but it seems like she's in a different place.
So what do I do?
I don't think her emotional maturity matching her physical maturity is a problem that need some fixing?
I think you should be socializing her as an almost 3 yo and expecting her to behave like an almost three yo. It's not really relevant what her reading skills are on that front? You deal with her like you would any other bossy pre-schooler - teach her that she doesn't get to tell others what to do all the time - make her take turns, etc etc.
Dd2 found kids her own age thoroughly uninteresting, and school medicalised it to the point of two years of counselling. She thought that was ace, as she got to hang out with an adult for an hour a week, and chat, and do stuff that was far more interesting to her than her peer group. In the end we relaxed about it. As she is the youngest she hangs out with older kids at home anyway, and she does now have some friends in school through debate club and whatnot.
Personally I'd just get her back in nursery if she would benefit from peer to peer socialization.
We had this problem with dd but she turned out to have HFA. You need to fimd an appropriate setting like a good calm Montessori where she can socialise.
I knew she was very different from the word go but setting her up with a comfortable social environment has led to her having friends who accepted her 100%.
Just socialise her the way in the same way that you would if she wasn't academic. I think you're overthinking things. Many children will join nursery having only socialised with siblings and adult carers.
Giddy I'm unsure about Montessori. I can see the advantages, but equally, if she goes to the local school nursery then she'll have a qualified teacher who will need her to progress in order to keep their pay packet (as is the life of teachers, these days) so a school nursery will push her further academically, but perhaps that's not really for the best?
I'm torn as I want her to be 'pushed' by her setting as I know she is capable of high things, but equally I know that primary school teachers don't value high level children and see them as a nuisance, on the whole.
She may be very bright at 2, but that won't make her a well rounded person. I just don't know how to make her well rounded without her getting bored.
Our Montessori was quite gentle. They let her do her thing. She wrote stories, did art, played and refused to do singing. She'd have been overwhelmed in a normal pre school but the calmness was a halfway house.
They didn't push her. I suspect they were Montessori lite
My ds was exactly the same! He was so uninterested in children his age he became selective mute.(He only talked to adults at nursery.)
My ds's nursery was great, the manager insisted he attends 5 full day a week in the end, and expose him to lots of children everyday to remedy this. And it's worked for him. By the time he started reception, he was a lot better socially.
I agree she needs to spend more time with children her own age
You need to look around at different nurseries -there will be one that suits her
The phrase 'her emotional maturity doesn't match her intellectual maturity' was repeated so many times when my dd was under 7, then was replaced with she struggles to get on with her peers and work in groups
And ultimately I had a very unhappy child
With hindsight I was too focused on the academic and not focused nearly enough on her social skills and, more importantly, emotional resilience
As for pushing academics, my ds's nursery did it.
The manager had done 1-1 sessions with him etc. It didn't have any negative effect at all.
But being at nursery did teach him to be far better socially than staying at home with me and doing only things he enjoys. He is still a quirky child, but he is well liked by lots of children at his school, and teacher's comment indicates he is very good at teamwork.
I believe it's a lot to do with nursery manager and reception teacher who helped him.
Hmm my second post didn't come up. Ds1 went into a school nursery on his third birthday and they ran him with the yr r. It didn't help at all on the social front and probably contributed to his general oddness lol. He loved the academic side but I'm sure the school aged kids weren't overly impressed by being outstripped by the just 3yo. His main Dx is ADD but with some asd type social/ sensory traits. He's reasonably well rounded now but it's taken some time!!!
Dd2 was the brightest - her first ms nursery was a Montessori type - we deliberately put her there to focus on her social development.
<he was appallingly unable to cope with anyone else wanting to have input into games - they had to run exactly as he envisaged them or he couldn't cope as he was the one who knew best iyswim. Dd2 just wasn't interested in bothering with her peers. They were utterly boring to her.>
Both have struggled in v different ways with being brighter, but tbh your expectations have to be the same. Social skills are learned behaviour - they don't have to play with kids their own age, but ultimately you can't expect older kids to play with them all the time, and they have to understand that their peers need to be able to make decisions, direct play, and do their own thing (even if their ideas aren't as good, they are still at 'play alongside, not with' or they just don't understand).
Nursery. Find a good one.
Are there any mums and toddler groups around? Try churches, libraries or museums. I second the idea that social skills are something a child can build with practice and they are just as important as academic skills.
If she has some Y1 maths abilities, whatever you are doing to teach her is working very well. However it is best to have a balance of academic; social and physical development.
Luckily all you have to do with the social side is to put them with other children. Sometimes the difficult bit is sitting back and letting them get on with it, only stepping in when absolutely necessary.
I think there is the assumption that an academically advanced child wants to play with older children because they are their intellectual piers. Most young girls want to play with the older girls as this is who they look up to. However, if you just let them have the space to get on with it, most will find their way for themselves.
Dd did not start nursery until 3, but this too I looked on as important, to mix with others when mummy was not there. I liked the Montessori approach I felt I was doing enough at home for her just to let the nursery staff get on with it.
She's only 2. There is a limit to the social skills that are even possible in a 2 year old, many aren't developmentally capable of much interaction with their peers yet.
Would a local preschool be an option? The 3 hour sessions might well suit her better than a nursery, if that's an option for you. They tend to be smaller and socially there will be more of a level playing field vs nursery where some children have spent 10hours a day together from babyhood. It sounds to me that you will more than have the "academics" covered at home, and IMO they will pick it up at school/home in a flash anyway, so I'd look for a small, calm preschool with outside space and let the "academics" constraint go. Or forest school might be good for developing her confidence and give her lots of opportunities to develop 1 to 1 relationships. I don't know but I imagine sticks and leaves are good levellers. Even 10 year olds can have fun with sticks!
Do keep looking for a small nursery/pre-schooler. There'll be one out there that suits her.
Playing games (board games/tabletop games) will help with turn taking, rules etc. Orchard games are fab- something like the ladybird game or spotty dogs. They're fun.
Ludo, snakes and ladders, frustration if you can stand them! Connect four etc.
Do gently remind her that she is the child, you're the parent
Also, try and let her experience differing social environments, so she understands that different places have different rules, and different expectations of our behaviour.
I'd also say keep up her physical development - maybe a toddler gym class, dance class, swimming or something?
We do a music class, gymnastics and swimming each week- mainly because I know I hate exercise so need to outsource.
Montessori sounds good, but there's nothing close to me.
Does she do anything unstructured where she just plays with other children and the Mums sit round chatting and let them get on with it?
Agree with richmals suggestion. Came across this article recently, seems like unstructured child led free activity seems to be very important.
We spend about 500 hours a week in the playground, so she makes 'friends' that way. We also meet with her cousins etc and NCT folk. So quite a bit of unstructured play.
I'm looking for a playgroup for September (they're term time) so hopefully that'll help her socialise.
I don't know for sure, but I think the playgroups helped dd with social skills. She mixes well and other children seem to like her.
IMO it is important for a child to have a balanced development and from what you have said, you seem to be doing a good job. I'm sure with mixing with a few others her age, the social aspects with soon sort themselves out.
Some kind of nursery/daycare setting should do wonders for her social skills. My DD was very behind socially at 3.5 then I put her in daycare, six hours a day, and she was transformed.
Is there any nursery/playschool in your area that mixes age groups? DD's class is mixed from one year old to six years and that really helps with building social skills and emotional resilience.
We go out every day and we meet my NCT lot (ie children she's known since birth) at least once a week, but it seems like she's in a different place.
I remember this stage very vividly. We also met up with an antenatal group weekly. They would all rampage round the house, taking off all their clothes and wrecking rooms. DD would sit at the kitchen table and draw: it was her idea of hell. She was lucky though, there was one other child there who felt the same, and so they'd sit together. They're still best friends six years down the line.
It's a really, really common problem with bright/gifted children, this mismatch. And it will get better. DD was very awkward right up until the age of 4; she's now articulate, polite to strangers and makes friends wherever she goes.
For us the mis-match was worst at about age 4-5 where DD wanted to play complex imaginative games based around books she'd read. But she'd think they were just getting going, and the other child would wander off, having had enough. No one here had bad social skills, they just weren't well suited to each other.
I think the best thing you can do - apart from all the stuff you are already doing which sounds great - is just try to find one or two children that your DD does click with and then spend plenty of time with them. She will learn how to be friends with them, and then can use the skills in other, trickier, situations.
And if there does turn out to be a Montessori locally, go for it. DD's Montessori nursery were amazing, and kept her challenged while at the same time part of the group. I would have kept her there forever if we could have done.
We also met up with an antenatal group weekly. They would all rampage round the house, taking off all their clothes and wrecking rooms.
This was not my experience of preschool mums and toddler groups. The mums were on hand to supervise , but this was very low key. There is usually different areas where they can either play with toys or sit and draw or play with playdoh. You could always just give it a go and see if your child does like it.
When dd first went, she would sit with me and just watch. It took a little time, but I just let her go at her own pace and she joined in when she ready.
It was quite interesting watching how the children would play along side each other before developing the ability to interact.
Some really good advice here I think.
One watch out - a mistake I made that I was convinced I wasn't making at the time - was how easy it is to let an older, bright, engaged talkative child monopolise the conversation for the younger one. My younger one (maths genius - I look at G&T mainly for him) was speech delayed and his understanding wasn't great. When he finally started talking age 3, his first proper sentence was "everyone quiet! Listen a ME!". He is 7 now and we still have special listening sessions because he struggles to get a word in edgeways normally! Because DD was (is) so very well behaved and angelic I honestly didn't clock how much she set the agenda and led the conversation - her asking questions and me answering them didn't give DS a chance to just pause and assimilate, let alone get involved, so I think he tuned out in the end. Or, y'know, maybe he was always going to speech delayed and obsessive. But if I could change one thing about their preschool days, it would not be to stretch my eldest more but to give DC2 more of a look in.
What about childminders where she willget more attention but with kids in a smaller setting?
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