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To feel like I've failed my son?

(109 Posts)
TheEarlOfDoncaster1963 Fri 26-Aug-11 22:52:41

x-posted in Parenting too:

He's 6yrs 10m, and I feel like there are so many things he struggles with that his peers seem to do no problem.
- He can't ride a bike without stabilisers - we took his off as he seemed keen to try, but he fell off once and that was it, he refused to get back on, so now his bike is just sitting in the garage. He went to a cycling party with DH and had to go on a tagalong bike rather than riding his own as he was the only one who couldn't ride a bike.
- He hates getting his face wet so will cause a huge fuss in the bath if water goes on his face while we're washing his hair. This also means that he can't swim independently as of course he can't get in a decent position to swim if his chin has to be about three inches above the water. He's never jumped in or gone underwater. I took him to a pool party the other day and forgot his armbands, so he spent the whole time in the shallow end with me, wincing every time he got splashed even slightly, and wanting me to 'tow' him around by his arms... meanwhile most of his friends were swimming underwater, splashing each other, having a whale of a time sad
- He won't go into his bedroom alone if we are all downstairs. So in the mornings I ask him to go upstairs and get dressed, and he won't go unless someone goes with him. He usually gets one of his (younger) siblings to go with him, even the two year old!
- He's not dry at night yet... he can go four or five nights dry on the trot, but then we'll have two or three wet pull-ups in a row... I know they do this in their own time, but it feels like it's one more thing that he's doing later than everyone else.

He has no special needs as far as I know, he's very intelligent, reads well, has many friends, and does well at school (the only issue he's had is being a bit of a dreamer and having to have instructions repeated - he is like this at home too, but then so is my DH so it's probably inherited selective hearing!). I feel like we have failed him by not making sure he could do these things before now... my DH works long hours and hasn't taken him out on his bike as much as he could've. I don't drive and our nearest swimming pool is 7 miles away so I can't easily get him to lessons. OK, I could take him on the bus but I also have two younger children so that would be really difficult. I feel like he's the odd one out now, thanks to us, and don't really know where to start to rectify it.

Not really asking for advice as such, more having a whinge and a moan, and looking for mums with similar boys, who have turned out OK and not social misfits in later years! I can't really rectify many of these things easily either -- with two other younger children it's hard to find time to go to the park and do intensive bike practice, and taking them all swimming is impossible as none of them are keen on water and all three would cling to us like limpets!

Oh, and I find myself getting really frustrated with him, as sometimes he just won't even try something, so I get annoyed and sometimes even shout, and of course that doesn't help his confidence when his mum doesn't even have patience with him. sad I feel like I want to rewind to when he was a baby and start again!

Sorry so long...

deemented Fri 26-Aug-11 22:58:47

You haven't failed him, of course you haven't.

I can't help but wonder though, has he ever been tested for dyspraxia at all? A few of the things you describe may add up to it - the lack of co-ordination on bike riding, the not liking his face getting wet. Might be worth looking into.

FWIW, my ds2 is 7 in two weeks and he can't ride a bike either.

tethersend Fri 26-Aug-11 23:00:26

You need to make life easier and give yourself a break.

1. Leave the bike in the garage and don't go to any cycling events

2. Don't go swimming

3. Get a big box for his clothes and keep them downstairs

4. Get him some pull ups for night time which he can wear if he wants to

I sound facile, but none of these things will make or break him. If they are stress factors for him (and for you), drop them for now. He will get there. The only thing pushing him will do is to stress you both out. If it makes you feel better, set yourself a deadline not to go cycling/swimming for 3 months, and just do the things he enjoys.

Good luck smile

squeakytoy Fri 26-Aug-11 23:00:51

I think learning to drive is probably something that you should aim for first. It must be very restrictive for you and will have an impact on how much you can do with your kids.

Your boy lacks independence, but he could just be a late developer. Does he have many friends? Peer pressure usually makes kids more determined to achieve things.

Maryz Fri 26-Aug-11 23:02:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheEarlOfDoncaster1963 Fri 26-Aug-11 23:02:46

just to add - he's actually scared of going in the bedroom on his own, for some reason. He won't say exactly what. hmm

LostInTheWoods Fri 26-Aug-11 23:02:51

I have no small boys to compare however...

I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 13 and by 16 I was doing twenty mile cycle treks on holidays and cycling all over the city. I didn't learn to swim until I was twenty and now go every week and do a couple of dozen laps.

You say that he's intelligent, reads well and has many friends. You sound like you're doing wonderfully well.

Skippyboo Fri 26-Aug-11 23:07:04

My eldest son (of 5) is 24 and still can't ride a bike! He didn't learn to swim until he was 9, didn't have many friends at primary school and was quiet and sensitive at secondary school. He too was afraid of the dark until he was about 14.

My son graduated from uni with a first class honours degree, is now living 400 hundred miles away from me, earning a lot of money and is living with his beautiful, clever girlfriend of 4 years. He is funny, popular and outgoing. He loves life and is happy. He doesn't regret not being able to ride a bike.

Go easy on yourself. Your son is who he is, not what you make him smile

cjbartlett Fri 26-Aug-11 23:07:11

Someone could just as easily say there 7 year old although races round on a bike and swims like a fish is a reluctant reader and they can't get them to read at home for love nor money

Count your blessings!

ghostofstalbans Fri 26-Aug-11 23:09:00

he is so little! try not to worry and definitely don't compare his development to others

when he's older it will so not matter and you will be angry that you spent his youth stressing about him

my ds(10) only just learnt to ride a bike this summer. he just went out and did it. hated it before.

smile

Theala Fri 26-Aug-11 23:09:03

Aw, the poor lad. I think I was probably the same at his age - I had a very active imagination and read a lot, and was so deathly afraid of my parent's wardrobe that I had a hard time even walking past their opened bedroom door. I think I wet the bed every off and on until I was about that age too because I was too afraid to get up in the middle of the night.

I think some kids just develop differently to others, and as long as he's ok, has friends, and is doing well at school, you can just wait for the other stuff to pass.

As a matter of interest, how come you don't drive?

seeker Fri 26-Aug-11 23:10:06

I don't have time for a long answer, but I have a dd who was very like your dd at 6. She is now 15, has just got 3as 2 bs and an a* for her first lot of GCSES, she is as we speak at a sleep over and is going straight to another one tomorrow, has just finished her duke of edinburgh silver and is streaking ahead with her life. Some of them take a bit longer than others - this time last year dd was still inclined to send her little brother to buy them both ice creams because she wS scared to go herself'!

Chewbecca Fri 26-Aug-11 23:13:39

Your son has some very similar dislikes to my own ds, aged 7.
He can't ride his bike, despite huge efforts by us. He hates getting his face wet and hardly washes it (urgh, I know) and doesn't like being upstairs alone.
BUT, I don't see any problem with any of these points. He is a lovely boy, doing really well at school, reads loads, has lots of interests, a vast general knowledge, good friends, plays happily alone or with others, generally just a lovely, happy child.
I just think we are all different and he's way 'ahead' on some things, 'behind' on others, that's fine by me and I'm really proud of him and his individuality.
Try not to worry about it, don't compare, just embrace the things he is good at and enjoys, I figure everything important will come along when it's good and ready.
X

Secrecy Fri 26-Aug-11 23:15:45

Oh - you really, REALLY haven't failed him! Look at you - you are a sensitive mother who wants the best for her son and spends time thinking through how to make life better for him. Believe me - you are wonderful and you do not fail him.

Chewbecca Fri 26-Aug-11 23:16:45

Oh, and 'daydreaming' has been a theme throughout our parents' evenings too! At the most recent one his teacher said he did dream and often took a while to start working but, thankfully, because he is bright, he is able to catch up and get it done so suggested not to worry it's just his personality

Unreasonablyfedup Fri 26-Aug-11 23:18:00

My DP is 41 and can't ride a bike! Says he doesn't trust things with brakes.

Hatesponge Fri 26-Aug-11 23:18:21

cjbartlett is right - I am that person - my DC both taught themselves to ride before they were 4, and have been swimming (no formal lessons) since similar age. Even before they could swim they were fearless with water, used to jump in the deep end with armbands etc BUT they barely ever read, have little or no interest in books, and DS2 has real problems with writing and spelling.

By contrast, I can ride a bike (just about!) but am not a 'confident' rider and never have been. I can't swim and my face being wet brings me out in a panic. I've never jumped into a pool, not even one 3 feet deep blush. I was quite a shy nervous child in many ways, and lots of things scared me. However my love of books and reading meant I did well academically - I now have an Oxbridge degree, and a good career.

So don't feel you've failed him, we're all different. I understand how you feel - I think should I have spent more time making the boys read for pleasure than getting them to do sports etc!

saladsandwich Fri 26-Aug-11 23:18:49

my brother is the same as your ds but hes now coming towards 30, he is still clumsy, he still can't ride a bike or swim or drive he struggles with co-ordination, i thought of my brother when i read your post, he works has a lovely g/f and his own home, and he is happy. i will be honest these things held him back as a child i remember doing his tie before school and his shoe laces and im 3 years younger

at 7 you can be reffered to someone for the bed wetting also x

exorbitclamp Fri 26-Aug-11 23:20:15

I have always worried about this sort of thing with my DS, and then when he gets past the problems he has I then berate myself for having concentrated on the things he couldn't do rather than seeing all the things that he could do well.

I sometimes wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self not to get so worked up and anxious about those things that his friends apparently found so easy and just accepted that DS was actually okay. None of my friends saw the awkward child that I did, and I wish I wasn't always the first person to put him down.

Chewbecca Fri 26-Aug-11 23:20:22

Oh no, I've just realised I have committed a terrible MN sin, putting an x on the end. What was I thinking, that I was texting a pal or something. Blushing badly now, showing myself up. Whoops!

FabbyChic Fri 26-Aug-11 23:21:27

All the things you speak of are little things, in his own time he will learn to ride a bike, he will learn to swim. With regards the dry at night my neighbours kid has just turned 7 and he still has accidents every single week, my kids did.

Something has scared him which causes him not to go in his room alone. You need to get to the bottom of it.

Reassure him there is nothing there that can hurt him.

prettyfly1 Fri 26-Aug-11 23:24:46

Look your son might do things in his own time so try not too worry too much but I must admit two things popped into my mind at your post and it might be worth you getting them looked at:

1. Dyspraxia - this can make things like bike riding very difficult and children can find things like handwriting or new experiences very difficult.

2. ADD. My son has severe hyperkinetic adhd, but there is a different type which is basicallly innattentive attention deficit disorder which basically means a child will go into their own world rather then attempt to do things they find difficult, repetitive or boring. My son was also very late to become dry, because he would simply lose track, and daydreaming or losing concentration is very, very common but in children without the hyperactive bit often gets missed until late as they dont cause the same "trouble" for people. My son is six and has a reading age of a ten year old so it can be that they dont struggle in that sense academically but there will always be an area that they dont do well - for your son perhaps this is physical science.

Of course it could also just be that your son is a little bit sensitive and not ready to grow up yet. Maybe chat to his teachers and your gp and see what they say.

VeronicaCake Fri 26-Aug-11 23:25:47

I'm just like HateSponge. Can't swim, can't ride a bike, in my case I wet the bed till quite late. I don't think my parents let me down, it just isn't possible to be good at everything. And frankly I'm so marvellous in every other respect I'd just intimidate people if I could do those things too!

It sounds like your son is nearly as marvellous as me. The advice to stop worrying is probably sound.

prettyfly1 Fri 26-Aug-11 23:26:18

PS YABU to think you have failed him - you havent. Even slightly. He is who he is - your failing yourself if you think you can force a child into a mould you think they should be. I learned that the hard way.

NorfolkBroad Fri 26-Aug-11 23:29:44

You haven't failed your son. He sounds just like my dd! Absolutely gorgeous! I only have one dc so I know that I don't have the other dcs to manage like you do but the following things helped me. My dd is also very sensitive, and reluctant to learn new physical skills but at the same time really embarrassed that her friends could do stuff and she couldn't join in!

I totally agree that all kids are different and that we need to boost them by telling them all that they are good at etc but there comes a point when you think ......mmm, this is making her feel sad and it IS possible for her to learn it!

Last summer my dad taught her to ride her bike after watching a very simple video about "how to teach someone to ride a bike without them falling off" on youtube. I will try to post the link. It was brilliant and she was riding confidently within a couple of hours, no tears at all.

After she was distraught to be the ONLY child in her class this year that needed armbands I told her that she could go to an intensive course this summer holidays or she come with me and listen to what i say and take risks. In 2 weeks (we went twice a week) she went from being the only child in the pool with dry hair at the end of our session to a little mermaid! Honestly, she now dives underwater, swims strongly and confidently whole lengths of the pool etc. Some of our sessions were a bit intense but i just used little bribes "a packet of minstrels after swimming if you do this 5 times" etc.

Now she tells people that alongside drama, riding her bike and swimming are her best hobbies....myself and DP can hardly believe it!

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