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Six year old struggling to make friends in new schooll

(3 Posts)
FiDignan Sat 23-Apr-16 11:01:28

Hi all,

I'm new to MN so apologies if I get a few things wrong! I would like to ask your advice about my son who's six. We have just moved house and he has started at a new school. I'm a little worried about his behaviour with the other children and that he's struggling to be accepted into the already formed social groups. He was always a popular boy at his old school and had one or two very close friends and a wide range of kids he played with (both boys and girls). I made a really active effort to get to know the mums and teachers in the school and I think that helped him get play dates etc. My son is a boisterous boy who can get over hyper and silly at times but can also play quieter games. He hates team sports such as football and his perhaps a little more on the immature spectrum of his age group. He loves drama and role play games (Star Wars, Super heroes etc). At his old school I think he found his place and worked out who was like him and who wasn't and naturally cultivated friendships with those who were like him. They did mix the classes up at the beginning of year one and he did struggle for a period but then settled down- we threw a Halloween party for the kids in his class and this seemed to help!

He has been in his new school for two weeks now. He's missed his old school a bit but has come home pretty happy each night and has talked about various kids in his class. Had I not observed anything else, I would have been quite content he was settling in well. However, we went to a playground after school last week where a group of boys were from his class. They obviously knew each other well and he tried to jump in on their game and was being a bit hyper and "full on", they told him to go away. It broke my heart to hear this but at the same time I could see why they did this (they are six year old boys and the new kid is butting in your game and 'messing it up'!) I went into school to help out yesterday and hoped that the incident in the playground was a one off but they had a free play session and saw the same thing happening. He didn't quite know who to play with and ran up to various kids and was, in want of a better expression, quite annoying- he poked a girl with some pencils, grabbed a book off a boy and threw it, grabbed another boy's hair with a puppet. The teacher was doing some work with individual children and didn't seem to notice his behaviour.

I think partly his behaviour stems from wanting desperately to make friends but being unsure about how to approach children. However, we have seen other elements of this behaviour at home and his old school. He can lack empathy with how others are feeling and can be quite self centred, ie if he wants to do something, he is going to do it regardless of how other people are responding or regardless of if it is inappropriate. I understand that this may just be him being a six years boy, but I worry that he is at an age where he should be exhibiting more awareness and that he is going to get a bad reputation and become left out.

I have made a real effort to get to know the mums in his class and baked some cakes for him to take into school. I've also been into the school to read with the children to get to know them a bit too. They are a lovely group of kids and parents so I think they would be welcoming if my son "played nice".

My husband thinks I'm projecting the feelings of a 33 year old woman onto a bunch of 6 year old kids and our son needs to figure out things for himself. It's a learning experience and we just need to coach him a bit. I do feel partly that he is right and I need to leave alone and this experience will help our son gain valuable experience and resilience. On the other hand it breaks my heart to think of him unhappy. He is a lovely little boy and can be a real sweetie. He has had a lot of change in his life recently- we have moved house, he's move schools, we had another baby at the beginning of the year who contracted meningitis at birth and was in intensive care for a week, his grandparents have split up....a lot for anyone to deal with!

Sorry this is a very long post. I'm a bit lost with how to approach this and would love to hear from anyone with any advice/experience of the issue.

pippistrelle Sat 23-Apr-16 13:01:26

Of course, you can't bear to think of him being unhappy, but you've also said that he seems quite happy when he comes home so he isn't! I think it's a bit soon to be worrying too much He's been there such a short time and,friendship groups are very fluid at that age. In all likelihood, he'll settle down, find his place, and his friends.

That said, if you're already involved with the school, it wouldn't do any harm just to have a quiet word with the teacher and let her know that you have these concerns. If he doesn't already have one, the teacher might identify a buddy who likes similar games and activities who could help him speed up the integration process.

It sounds like you've all had a lot to deal with, and this may well explain why you're so worried about this. You're probably - and understandably - being very vigilant about any signs of 'acting out' given all that's been going on, and of course you're keen to help him settle in. He may be a bit unsettled by all the changes and that might account for him being a bit hyper in his interactions with others, but he'll settle down.

Could you also maybe invite some individual children home after school? Maybe one child in his own environment might be a bit less 'full on' for him, and will help to create bonds that will be carried over into school. Also, you'll be there to supervise and intervene if necessary.

I hope things are soon calmer for you all.

FiDignan Sun 24-Apr-16 17:37:01

Thanks very much for your advice. You're right that friendships are fluid and hopefully he'll adjust. I think I'll give it a few weeks and approach some mums about play dates and perhaps have a word with the teacher like you suggest.

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