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AIBU to worry about son who 'flies under the radar'?

(25 Posts)
sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 10:45:04

I would really appreciate some advice from some fellow mums who have been through similar and come out the other side.

My son is almost 7. Whenever we socialise with friends outside of school (both school friends and those from other schools), he gets on well with them, rarely falls out with them, and they clearly enjoy playing with him. From what I have seen, I have no concerns about his social skills. Past teachers have specifically commented on how he rarely argues with other children. He does not, however, seem to have made many friends at school, as evidenced by the fact that he only gets a handful of play date and birthday party invites a year. I think the other children like him, there is just always other children who are invited over him. He has called some boys his friends, but has not been invited to their parties. I cannot work out for the life of me why this is and sometimes I wander if perhaps he just flies under the radar a bit? Or some other reason that I have not considered? He has also never been 'picked' for anything he has put himself forward for at school, such as School Council, school plays etc.

I am NOT moaning about the fact that my son never gets picked for anything and that he is not popular enough, I am just trying to work out why so that I can try to change this. Is there anyone else who has experienced this who can shed some light? Are there any teachers who could be really honest here? Many thanks in anticipation.

Imfinehowareyou Tue 23-Jan-18 10:50:30

There's no harm in having a word with the teacher. If a parent had come to me and expressed their concerns I would have looked for/created opportunities to praise/involve your son.
You might also want to be proactive with asking friends over.
However, how does you son feel? Is he perfectly happy with the way things are?

allthgoodusernamesaretaken Tue 23-Jan-18 10:53:13

He's only six. I wouldn't be too quick to assume there is a problem, or try to change him. I think it's really important for children to feel that they are accepted as they are, instead of being found wanting

If he has some friends and plays happily with them, he's probably okay.

It may be that he doesn't argue with people because he lacks confidence to stand up for himself. Or he may be genuinely easy-going and doesn't mind what game to play

He has also never been 'picked' for anything he has put himself forward for at school, such as School Council, school plays etc At his age, these opportunities must be limited. In my DD's school, I have noticed it seems to be some of the same children that get picked for all these things. It grates a little, but I'm not sure you can do much about this. As they get further up the school, they have other opportunities to shine (if they wish to). For a long time, my DD didn't like to draw attention to herself, but she has developed more confidence as she gets a bit older

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 11:03:01

I'mfinehowareyou - he hasn't expressed any real upset at the situation. He has mentioned the odd party that he wasn't invited to, but i haven't been concerned by that. It's my worry, rather than his, I guess. But I am concerned that as he gets older, he will start to notice it more. I am struggling to relate to this as both my husband and I were always invited to houses and parties as children. Perhaps that's why it seems to be my issue rather than his? AIBU to worry about this?

Bellamuerte Tue 23-Jan-18 11:20:13

By definition not every child (or adult) can be popular. Your DS sounds fairly normal - he is liked and mixes with others, isn't ostracised, but neither is he popular and invited to parties or picked for school plays. Most people are middle-of-the-road; perhaps it seems odd to you because you and your DH were/are popular?

implantsandaDyson Tue 23-Jan-18 11:31:53

My eldest was like (she’s 12 now), she was a “floater” between groups - to be honest it has stood her in really good stead. She didn’t get involved in playground/class rows/ bickering. She to put it in my words “ couldn’t be arsed with it”. She has enough friends that she was happy enough at playtime, got invited to a fair amount of parties but not loads, she wasn’t a fan of the whole play date scenario anyway.

She is now in her second year at post primary, she is able to mix with lots of different groups of friends, she has some closer than others but she doesn’t still even now get drawn into she said he said type rows, she’s sociable, goes out to the cinema/town with friends when she wants but doesn’t feel the need to go out every time. She hasn’t had any friend/drama issues. She is confident in her own self and her own company, she’s thriving at “big” school. I would rather that than have that very intensive type friendship thing that I’ve seen with my younger two kids.
My youngest is almost 7 and the carry on sometimes that I’ve heard over friends and who’s playing with who etc, and who got invited to whose house is a bit of a nightmare.

RainOnATinRoof Tue 23-Jan-18 11:35:38

It could just be the particular class he is in. Next year if the classes get shuffled around a bit he might make closer friends or gravitate into a group.

As long as he isn't distressed or lonely, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 11:38:03

Ah, that's interesting, Bellamuerte. It's not that we are/were particularly popular but we do value our friendships a lot and spend a lot of our spare time socialising. Perhaps I find it odd, therefore, because my son does not appear to place so much value on the same thing as I do (although I appreciate that he is only 6 and is far too young to even know what he values in life anyway). And as a PP also said, we need to accept our children for who they are in order for them to flourish. Gosh, I love the therapeutic effect of mumsnet sometimes!

Keep them coming, people!

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 11:45:30

Thankyou rainonatinroof - I have wandered whether it has something to do with the class that he is in. He doesn't, for example, play football at play times or do the whole play fighting thing. I sometimes think that he is quite gentle compared to the other boys in his class (his little brother, on the other hand, loves to wrestle and has been somewhat of a surprise). He can be sensitive, and perhaps he doesn't quite fit in with their boyishness? I know that doesn't sound politically correct.

Dishwashersaurous Tue 23-Jan-18 12:10:51

I agree with it might just be his way and he may never have a gang of mates and instead have lots of individual friends. My daughter is similar, friends with everyone best mates with none. She is not bothered about it but I spend lots of time worrying about it, even though really there's no issue. This parenting lark is hard isn't it. Best thing someone told me, parent the child you actually have rather than the one you thought you would have!

allthgoodusernamesaretaken Tue 23-Jan-18 12:16:29

I think you need to be really careful not to project your own anxieties about this on to your son. He sounds like he is doing fine

TheNoodlesIncident Tue 23-Jan-18 12:38:04

He sounds blessed with the ability to fit in anywhere. Especially if he is the amiable type who doesn't get involved with other people's dramas.

The "handful" of parties invitations and playdates might seem meagre to you but it sounds really typical for six year olds across the board - there are some who never (or rarely) get invited, some who always seem to get invited, and a wide swathe of in-between...

Pengggwn Tue 23-Jan-18 12:38:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wincher Tue 23-Jan-18 12:44:06

Sounds very like my 7 year old DS, whose friends are mainly girls, I think. And this year the parties have tended to be small groups of single sex friends doing an activity, so he hasn't been invited to any parties at all, and only one last year (despite having a whole class party for his 6th and 12 kids to his 7th). It upsets him a bit but not much you can do. There are a few alpha kids in the class who always get picked for the big things at school and always get invited to all the parties etc. I guess the difference here is that he is very like my husband and me - we are both introverts - so we know what it is all like! Concerns have been raised about his social skills in the past, when he was in reception, and many of the things the teacher said were things that seemed normal to me, such as not making eye contact when talking.

Hopefully they will all find their niches...

mummmyj Tue 23-Jan-18 12:50:07

My son who is now 12 is exactly the same, he is abit of a sheep but also can be quite strong when he needs to be when he thinks his school friends are taking him for a ride!! He reminds me of myself when I was his age and younger never was one for too many "friends" as was always a good judge of character and did not like fake people. I wouldn't worry as my son now has a select few friends and they are good ones that he has picked there are not many but this does not seem to bother him, I would suggest getting your son into clubs such as scouts and my son does martial arts as well so no-body picks on him these clubs will give your son self esteem and confidence in himself see what he picks of you ask him you may be pleasantly surprised how well he thrives in social clubs, good luck x

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 12:53:26

Allthegoodusernames - yes, I know, keeping this from him is something I need to be mindful of.
Thenoodlesincident - lovely. thank you. I hope that is the case!
Pengggwn - thanks for your insight as a teacher, especially a secondary school one as it's at this stage that 'outsiders' begin to feel it, I think. He isn't reserved, at least not when he gets used to a situation. In fact, he is fantastically funny, hence why whenever we have guests, he always has a ball with the other children. What does he like doing? Swimming with his dad, playing with his younger brother, reading before bed, science experiments (!), playing the drums, parks, riding his bike. Hopefully as time goes on, he will come into his own more and more. thank you.

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 12:56:55

Thank you Wincher and MummyJ - all these posts are so helpful as they show that everybody else isn't being invited to everything, and being picked for everything, as it can sometimes seem.

Pengggwn Tue 23-Jan-18 13:01:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

grumpy4squash Tue 23-Jan-18 13:01:25

OP, would you describe yourself as an extrovert and would you describe your DS as more introverted?

My elder DS was like your DS, he just bumbled along, joining in or not, didn't seem bothered about a 'best' friend. He's still like that now he's in 6th form - goes out now and again, not all that often really, has some friends, but not a best friend. He is perfectly happy. He doesn't need to draw from other people. [I on the other hand love socializing with lots of different people.....]

PourMeAGlassOfMilk Tue 23-Jan-18 13:13:12

I could write a very similar post about my 7 year old just now. He has always seemed content in his own company and rather than having a set friendship group at school has been happy to play with any of the children in his class depending on what they're playing at the time. However his year group is split over 2 classes this year and it seems he's being overlooked for various reasons. No party invites since September and only on play date despite us inviting plenty. He too is quiet in larger groups but witty, kind and happy playing one on one. It has all been going over his head but just recently he's realised there have been parties he wasn't invited to despite having invited party child to his. Without saying anything to ds about the reasons, we've put more effort into organising things with friends outside of school, let him start a new club he's been asking about and encouraged him to keep letting us know who he'd like to invite to play at our house instead of waiting for reciprocal invites that don't appear. I'm follofollowing this with interest to see other people's similar experiences.

EggsonHeads Tue 23-Jan-18 13:16:42

How much do you socialise with the other parents? I don't think I had real friendships independent of my parents' social lives before I was 8/9. In some schools where most parents are busy professionals it doesn't really matter that much as everyone makes minimal effort but if there are a lot of SAHP and after school play dates etc then it may be worth trying a bit harder to be friendly with other parents.

Coffeeisnecessary Tue 23-Jan-18 13:18:00

You could be describing my 2 boys. I feel exactly the same and worry about it although he seems fine with his 2 friends! It's very helpful reading all these replied!

Ariela Tue 23-Jan-18 13:28:46

Give it time - my daughter was the quiet one, overlooked by the teahcers because she had impeccable behaviour, overlooked for friendships because she was quiet and kept herself to herself.
She blossomed in the 6th form.

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 13:50:48

Thanks Eggsonheads - I socialise with the other parents so it's definitely not that and I am proactive about arranging play dates. I can't see how this could have come from me in that respect. I have read articles about how to encourage more friendships , and looking at your own social behaviour is often one of the first suggestions. However, I know that some of the more 'popular' children have parents who prefer to keep themselves to themselves so I really don't think there is a correlation.

I also know that much of my worries are rooted in how aware we are these days of conditions such as autism and childhood anxiety disorders (and rightly so). But I wonder if it is causing those parents of children who are reserved to worry unnecessarily about underlying disorders when, in fact, they are just normal children who happen to be a bit reserved. Is there is an over-emphasis on the importance of multiple friendships and lots of socialising, to the detriment of more introverted children and their parents? I have pondered that on a few occasions since having my son.

sevencontinents Tue 23-Jan-18 13:54:07

grumpy4squash - yes I would consider myself more extroverted than my son, but not hugely so.

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