DD, aged 6- problems with social skills

(7 Posts)
Campaspe Tue 09-Apr-13 11:18:16

DD is in year 1. She is bright but has always been a shy and anxious child, and clingy. She has a couple of friends in school, but is usually on the outskirts of the group, and does not seem to mix well. We do playdates, an after school club and swimming lessons to try to boost her confidence. DH and I are both quite outgoing.
One of her two friends in school has recently deserted her for other friends. All typical stuff for 6 year olds I guess. However, DD is upset and tells me she now plays alone and has no one to sit with on the mat. I suggestedtrying to make new friends, and inviting more children round to play. DD rejects this, saying she likes to be alone, and refusing to join in with others on the basis that they don't like the same things, or are a little bossy etc etc. basically all spurious reasons.

I have observed DD with other children, and am upset that she does appear stand offish, nervous and does spurn gestures of friendship unless she is in the right mood.

I have discussed with her teacher, who is concerned about her lack of friendships, and tells me that DD's friend can be quite mean to her. Other than encouraging DD to make friends, I am not sure there is more the school can do. It is breaking my heart to see her alone, but I don't know what more I can do to improve her social skills, and make her see she needs to speak up a bit and join in if she wants more friends. I'm not sure I do believe she is happy on her own.

My husband and mum trek me to relax, that DD will make the effort when she is ready, and that she might have to take a few knocks on the way. The also tell me she is picking up on my anxiety and this is making her worse. They advise me to step back, let her get on with it, and only intervene if she is being picked on. They also think she needs to take responsibility more, eg today, I forgot her show and tell. DD wanted me to tell the teacher. I told her she had to do this herself and basically pushed her into the class in years and left her.

Any support, advice, kind words gratefully received. I am really worried.

Periwinkle007 Tue 09-Apr-13 11:25:34

ah poor little thing. and you too. my youngest daughter is at preschool and we had something similar last term. A little boy she knew outside preschool suddenly started playing with others and ignoring her (when he started preschool he only knew her so played with her a lot and she knew other children too as she had been there longer so it helped him settle in). she got so so upset, she told me she didn't like being her, didn't like how she looked or who she was etc because she obviously felt he would like her again if she wasn't her. She had to be dragged in because she said she didn't have any friends and it was horrible so I really sympathise. It makes you feel so useless because you can't control the situation for them, THEY have to do it themselves but I agree with your instinct that she doesn't like being on her own, it is her defence mechanism.

Having said that I really don't know what you can do. It is good the teachers are aware now that there is a problem as I am sure they will try hard to help her mingle with the others and make some new friends. Children can be so cruel, both intentionally and unintentionally.

I also sympathise about the 'can you tell the teacher for me' thing. We have to leave the kids at the gate and can't go in so they have to do it themselves and my daughter hates it. one day she didn't bring her lunchbox out so I told her to go and get it and she stood at the door in a right state because she didn't want to ask the (really very lovely and not remotely scary) teacher or TA if she could get it. It IS something they have to learn to do themselves but for some children it is difficult.

Aranea Tue 09-Apr-13 11:30:37

There are things the school can do to help. They could set up a social skills group to support her interactions - it might be worth asking the teacher about this and perhaps even asking to see the SENCO. Even if there is no major underlying issue, they can find ways to support children who are struggling with social communication.

Periwinkle007 Tue 09-Apr-13 11:41:01

do you think she might like drama? that can be very good for building confidence

rrbrigi Wed 10-Apr-13 10:04:51

My son is in Reception. Every parents evening the teacher has concern about his social skills. She says he does not have lots of friend, sometimes he does not want to play with the children, does not want to go to play dates, etc… How I see he is a happy and balanced little boy, who has strong opinion and can decide who he would like to play with and what. He loves school.

I would like to tell you two things.

There are people who needs lots of friend, likes to socialize, go out etc... to be happy for some reason, and there are people who does not need all of this staff to be happy (couple of friend, like to be alone, etc...). And being alone sometimes is not a bad thing. You have time to explore things around you or inside you in the way how you would like to do it (and not how others would like you to do it). I am in the second group and I do not have lots of friend, but the couple of friends I have I know I can count on them.

The other thing that I would like to tell you is that I think all of these social skill problems for children start with low “self-loving” (I do not know the correct word in English). If I do not love myself the most I should not expect others to love me. Children need to love themselves in the way as they are to be able to socialize easily. They need to accept that they are perfect with all of their good and bad things. My son thought this to me. I asked him who loves him the most and expect to hear mummy and daddy, but he said “I love myself the best mummy”, and since then I think it is good and this is the way how it should be. He is not good at socializing, but he does not bother. He is not perfect, but he loves himself with all of his mistakes. Sometimes he tells me that he played alone in the school, but he is not sad about it, sometimes he plays with other children. It never happened, but if he would come to me saying that one of his classmates does not want to play with him, I would say to him “No problem darling, if he or she does not like you in the way you are you probably would not have good friends with him or her”. Because you cannot change yourself for a long time just to get someone’s friendship or get lots of friends. Friendship last longer or shorter but you are always there for yourself. I do not know the correct English words, but sometime few things worse more than lots of things (if you know what I mean).

Let her do what she would like. Let her explore herself. What she likes and what she does not. Does she really like to go to swim or to the after school club or is it you who likes these things? As soon as she know what she likes she can choose friends for herself and it is not a problem if she does not like everybody in the class. Do not want her to change herself just to make lots of friends, she would not be happy to play that she is the chattiest girl in the class if she is not.

rrbrigi Wed 10-Apr-13 10:07:35

One more things if she loves herself, she is happy with herself it will help her in the future when group of “friends” saying “come on drink with us, smoke with us, if you would like to be in the group”.

Periwinkle007 Wed 10-Apr-13 10:13:55

that is a very good point rrbrigi, it all comes down to self esteem and self confidence.

I think it is worth looking at the activities she does outside of school and find out if they are really the sort of things she likes doing. I am not saying stop doing them as I think it is good to do somethings but my 5.5 year old only goes to Rainbows. that is her only activity. She enjoys it because it is social, they do craft stuff and play games so it is ideal for her. she would like to do other things too but I think 1 activity is enough for her at her age and rainbows seemed the most suitable as it was more general. We don't really do many playdates because of time and she has a sibling to play with as well and they do play very well together.

If you look at the activities she does and does she enjoy them, which ones and why. Swimming is quite an individual activity really, not social. She may prefer it for this reason or it may be she doesn't like it for this reason, it may reinforce to her the idea of people not talking to her or something. Children are very complex and can't explain what they are thinking or feeling which is why it is all so hard.

It is so hard to know if she genuinely is a child who prefers her own space or if she would prefer to be with others but hasn't the confidence to deal with it.

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