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Honest to the point of rude

(36 Posts)
Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 17:06:47

Any tips on how I can deal with my ds.

If he doesn't like someone (for example a classmate) he will avoid them, if asked by an adult (teacher/classroom assistant/parent etc) why he won't play with x.

He will respond with 'I don't like them because of ...'

The because of can be 'they are immature, they bore me, they smell or whatever reason'.

This has got him into trouble, and has caused other parents to take offence. He doesn't mean to cause offence, he doesn't say it unless directly asked the question.

His responses are fact.

If it's they are immature they do act younger than their age, if they bore him they bore him, if they smell they do smell.

How can I help him, what is an acceptable response? Is there an acceptable response?

Hassled Sat 03-Sep-11 17:07:56

How old is he? How are his social skills generally?

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 17:12:02


He's very popular - although does seem to be on the 'treat 'em mean keep 'em keen' school of thought.

Not at a physically nasty but does have the 'say what you see' mannerisms.

Kids seem to adore him, adults are the ones who take offence.

Hassled Sat 03-Sep-11 17:17:40

It's sort of an empathy thing, isn't it? He's not thinking about how he would feel if someone called him immature/smelly/boring, and he's not thinking of the consequences of what he says. 7 year olds do tend to think the world revolves around them - he'll probably grow out of it sooner or later. I think a gentle chat along the lines of "lies are bad, but some lies are good because you don't want to hurt people's feelings" is in order - but it's a tough one for you.

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 17:38:57

I'm struggling to think what an appropriate white lie is in for example the following context:

He's in a park playing - he goes to a slide and child x follows him on to the slide and is interacting with him, my ds is not interested, so will walk off to the swing, child x follows him to the swing and starts pushing my ds, my ds is not interested so goes off to the roundabout, child x follows him to the roundabout etc.

At no point has my ds said or done anything in appropriate at this point, but it is obvious from adults observing that my ds is not interested in child x.

The parents of child x say to my son why won't you play with my son and my son responds as above 'I don't like them because of ...'

The parents then get cross with my son because he has effectively insulted their child, but he hasn't intentionally gone out to cause offence, he's not been nasty to this child.

My son ends up being upset as the parents have a go, I end up feeling defensive towards my son, because he's tried to remove himself from the situation causing minimal offence, been questioned by an adult, answered honestly to the adult, and is seen as the one who is wrong.

suzikettles Sat 03-Sep-11 17:42:58

In your scenario the parents are being massively unreasonable shock.

I'd never ever consider asking a child in that situation (or any tbh) why they wouldn't play with my child. Good grief, there's no playground contract that states you have to play with any particular child.

It would be kind in a school situation for your child to play with another child who finds it hard to make friends for whatever reason, but there's no obligation, and although his response is bald and undiplomatic I think the adults are really the ones at fault here.

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 17:47:57

But that's what happens all the time and I really feel for my ds.

In classroom setting, he's in a group of four desks, 2 of the children at the group of 4, he's not interested in. Therefore, he only communicates to them bare minimum, not rudely answers their questions etc, but does not chat with them.

The teacher asked why he didn't chat with them (tbh I would see this as a good thing to not be chatting in class) and he answered that 'he did not like them because of ...' He got told that it wasn't right not to dislike anyone and he had to like everyone in the class.

He wasn't rude to the children, they still invite him to their house for playdates (he turns these down), I don't think they are even aware he dislikes them, but the adults make it an issue for him.

suzikettles Sat 03-Sep-11 17:57:02

Ok, see I think that's a little different. It's a good life skill to get on with a range of people, including people that you think you have little in common with.

I suppose maybe logically he's thinking that he's popular, he's got enough friends and there's no point wasting time on people he doesn't have anything in common with, but I think that's a little bit sad and possibly worth working on.

Again, there's nothing to say that he has to change. It's all very logical behaviour, but I'm not really sure it's how the world may work for him in the long term - it might of course, he may be alpha all his life and never have to bother with anyone he doesn't like, and at 7 he's still quite young to be learning those lessons.

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 18:20:14

Do you think then that I need to be working with him on making small talk?

I think one of the reasons that the kids don't pick up on it is that he just looks like he is listening to them. He has the fine art of nodding and doing incommital body language when they are talking to him about stuff that he has no interest in.

And like I say if it's a 'work' question about school stuff he will answer and help them.

Maybe I should get him to respond to the teacher 'But Miss I'm just getting on with my work' and tell him not to comment on an individual child.

bigTillyMint Sat 03-Sep-11 18:59:09

So it sounds that he has devekoped quite good strategies for dealing with social situations with peers, but that adults are picking up on his non-interaction with some.

Does he have friends who he actively wants to interact with, or are there just some he can tolerate, or does he prefer his own company?

Is it that he is not interested in peers that he feels are intellectually "beneath" him?

Is he an "alpha-male", good at sport and highly competitive, or is he more into interacting with inanimate objects (like electronic games/computer, etc?) or investigating stuff or imaginative play?

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 19:22:30

He has his group of 6 friends who he is loyal to the ends of the earth and will follow/lead them as appropriate.

He has another 5 friends who he tolerates, won't follow them but if they want to follow him he will allow.

Everyone else in the world he can't be bothered with.

It's not necessarily intellectually beneath him, they just don't fall into either of the first two categories. His group of 6 are a range of academic abilities, the thing they have in common is they are all very very sensible.

He is not highly competitive, but is a true all rounder good at music, sport and academically, but no competitive drive whatsoever. He loves computers/gadgets and how the world works.

Will not do imaginative play never has done.

bigTillyMint Sat 03-Sep-11 19:37:06

He sounds quite a discerning chap!

I would have lots of chats with him about how we don't necessarily like everone we meet, but that it is rude / upsetting to them to show it, so we have to think of polite and kind things to say. Your 'But Miss I'm just getting on with my work' sounds good, and maybe even saying in a nice tone of voice to the peers, "I'm sorry but I'm trying to concentrate on my work...."

Maybe he could just say to parents in the playground something like "I just don't really feel like playing with anyone at the moment / I'd rather play on my own at the moment" Obviously tone of voice is crucial grin

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 20:27:23

I'll work on the words and then how to lose the dripping sarcasm grin.

Thank you for the advice.

bibbitybobbityhat Sat 03-Sep-11 20:33:33

He has to learn to handle himself better. In time no one will adore him for behaving like this. I don't know if better social skills will develop naturally with time - 7 year old boys are hardly the most mature and I know this as I have one myself - but I don't think it would do any harm if you spoke to him about his idiosyncratic manner every time you witness it.

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 20:47:48

Any other ideas bibbitybobbityhat as to what he should be saying or do you agree with 'I just don't really feel like playing with anyone at the moment'.

The way he conducts himself in his actions I believe is appropriate. If someone's wanting to chat whilst he's working to nod but not engage is how I would want him to be. I would prefer him not to be chatting in class.

In the playground, whether he knows the child or not, I certainly don't expect him to spend his free time playing with someone if he doesn't want to.

But it's how he responds to the adults that is the problem.

bibbitybobbityhat Sat 03-Sep-11 20:57:32

I've no idea! I just know a lot of lovely 7 year old boys who manage to be straightforward with each other (they are on the whole a fairly straightforward species grin) without winding anyone else up, adults or children.

Lack of empathy with other people is deeply unappealing. Speak to him about it as you would about table manners, or skid marks, or leaving toys out in the garden all night - or anything else that is non-negotiable.

I get the impression from your op that you think he is somehow "special" - he is not, he is only special to you and other close family. Everyone else looks at him without prejudice.

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 21:18:16

That's really interesting about "special" - yes he's special to me as he's my son, but I don't think this behaviour is special I cringe with embarrassment when he says it, but I don't know how to deal with it.

Because if I say 'you can't say that', he says 'but it's true', if I remove him from the place he's being punished for honesty and says to me but what am I meant to say and I don't know what he is meant to say.

I wonder if he should be more abrupt with the child, because other children who don't want to play with another child will say 'leave me alone' 'go away' etc. Which to me always seems hurtful to say to the child, but does tend to result in the child either going on their own accord, or other parents saying 'come on x they don't want to play with you' and not taking offence at it.

My son tries to remove himself without confrontation, gets confronted by the adults, answers the question and is in the wrong.

I see he is in the wrong, like I say when the question is asked I am aware of an honest answer coming. Now if I was to jump in and say 'oh he's just wanting to be on his own', he would respond 'no i don't, i just don't want to because of ...'

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 21:21:04

Just to reiterate I don't know what the correct answer is and that's what I'm asking advice for.

Table manners I know what the correct approach is.
Leaving toys out I can explain why not to, and the right course of action.

Lying I can't describe the correct time to lie and not to.

thisisyesterday Sat 03-Sep-11 21:24:41

he doesn't have to lie.

i would just point out that saying that someone smells, or that they'r eboring or that they'r eimmature could be quite upsetting to them or to other people around them

it jsut isn't a nice thing to say.
it's fine for him to not like those people, but it's not fine to say things that might cause them to be upset just because you don't like them

so if he gets asked why he isn't talking to people or why he isn't playing with them he simply needs to say "I don't really want to right now"... which is true!
or, "I'd rather play by myself/with X" or whatever

he can be honest (and say he doesn't want to talk/play with them) without pointing out their faults iyswim?

Whatisitthistime Sat 03-Sep-11 21:28:26

Thisisyesterday - "i don't really want to right now" that's it. See I couldn't see the wood for the trees, just being to hightend by it.

He's just got to stop trying to justify his reason, he should just state that he doesn't want to.

Whatisitthistime Sun 04-Sep-11 10:27:38

We spoke this morning about it.

He's going to say non personal non commital comments.

He did get very upset, and said he doesn't understand why he is being told off for being honest.

I explained that he was not being told off or punished for the truth, just that to ensure that he doesn't hurt others feelings with the truth.

Hopefully this is a problem solved, although I do fear that it may make him even less communicative than he already is, for fear that what he does say is wrong he won't talk at all.

ChippingIn Sun 04-Sep-11 10:33:55

Whatisitthistime (like your name by the way!) Honestly, I think you should leave him how he is. Don't teach him to lie. He isn't doing anything wrong - the adults are!! He is behaving politely, he's answering when asked, he's removing himself from situations... he sounds like he's behaving quite well for a 7 year old!

The only small thing I would tell him that it would be better to do would be to say to a child following him, that he doesn't want to play with, would be 'Sorry, I don't want to play with anyone'.

I agree with him - he is being told off for being honest & I don't think it's on simply because adults cannot accept he doesn't want to be everyones best mate.

Hullygully Sun 04-Sep-11 10:35:46

He behaves like this because you haven't taught him socially acceptable behaviour and indeed synpathise with him.

Hullygully Sun 04-Sep-11 10:38:02

In fact your title says it all. He is "honest to the point of rude."

Whatisitthistime Sun 04-Sep-11 10:46:58

Tad harsh Hullygully but okay point taken it is something I have done.

I realise most errors/behaviour that is not acceptable in children is due to parenting.

Hence the reason for my posting asking for ways to change it.

At no point have I said that others should not be offended nor think that this behaviour is acceptable.

I do have empathy for my son, because I can see how his thinking has worked, wrongly but logically.

Part of me envies his ability my older child and I have the tendancy of being stuck with people we don't like as we are too nice to everyone and haven't learnt to extract ourselves, for too much fear of causing offence.

Now somehow, my youngest is too much the other way and does not realise that what they will say will cause offence.

Like I say I realise he can't go through life like this, but that is why I'm asking for advice on how to change the behaviour.

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