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5yo won't interact with anyone but me

(10 Posts)
NellMangel Sun 19-Apr-20 00:43:23

My 5 yo DS is a fairly quirky person. He is quiet, bright and reasonably emotionally intuitive. I dont think he's autistic, but who knows.

I'm getting really frustrated by his complete indifference to talking to people. We've been at home for 4 weeks just the 2 of us. Family do video calls, my brother drops off food, a couple of school mates have facetimed. My son refuses to talk to any of them. At a push he will mumble "hi" then start talking to me. Even with his dad he whispers for me to answer his questions.

He likes these people. I know he does. I'd really like to see him having a spontaneous chat with someone. I feel sad for the people who call, especially the grandparents.

Tonight I was honest with him and said I was disappointed as it would make them happy to talk with him. He sulked and told me he hated me. Later calmed down and said he would try.

Does anyone have advice? Can I help him develop social skills? I understand being shy is difficult cos I'm incredibly shy myself, but my family and friends dont have that effect on me. It's not just over the phone, my brother stands outside the door but DS wont come and say hi.

OP’s posts: |
NuffSaidSam Sun 19-Apr-20 01:54:29

Was he like this pre-lockdown?

NellMangel Sun 19-Apr-20 07:57:44

Yes. I have to cajole him to respond to people's simple questions. Parties are awful too, he refuses to go in the party room, often gets physical with hitting me in an attempt not to be taken in.

It's very wearing.

OP’s posts: |
JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 19-Apr-20 13:35:59

Hitting you so that he doesn't have to go into a party is a little usual at 5.

What is he like at school?

NellMangel Sun 19-Apr-20 16:02:24

His teacher says he is quiet but self assured, meaning he's choosing to do his own thing rather than not joining due to struggling.

He has friends, seems fairly popular which then makes me feel bad for the birthday child cos they are pleased to have him there.

The context of party stubbornness is that he hates noisy disco type ones, if its soft play he will be ok (although it took a year to get to that stage). But once soft play ends and the party food in a room starts, he gets.stubborn and upset. I think it's the noise, and possibly the expectation of singing/dancing. I've started.declining parties that I think he will struggle with which is a shame.

OP’s posts: |
NuffSaidSam Sun 19-Apr-20 16:29:55

I think, hard though it is, you need to accept the child that you have. He doesn't like loud parties. Quite a lot of people don't. So don't take him. Parties are supposed to be fun.

I understand that it's hard for your family that he doesn't want to talk to them, but again telling him you're disappointed with who he is isn't exactly great for his self esteem is it?

I think if you accept him, listen to him and respect his wishes around social contact you might see a difference. His confidence will grow and social skills should come along with that.

With regards to family, could he draw a picture or write a letter to post? Maybe that would be easier for him. Also, maybe they can just speak to him on a video call without creating pressure for him to respond. They could read him a story or tell him something interesting/funny that's happened, show him a pet/the garden etc. Let the conversation develop naturally rather than questioning him, which forces a response he doesn't feel comfortable giving.

NellMangel Sun 19-Apr-20 17:08:24

I know what you mean @Nuff, as a quiet child myself I hated being made to feel it was a failing. School reports always referred to my quietness holding me back. What they meant was it prevented me being their narrow definition of "confident".

I do feel it's a balance though and he needs to learn about how his actions make people feel. Just like when you prompt a child to say thank you on receiving a gift, you'd expect them to say hello to a grandparent who had dropped off shopping. It's courtesy and I feel he is old enough to start grasping that without my comments damaging his self esteem.

OP’s posts: |
NuffSaidSam Sun 19-Apr-20 17:18:29

I think you're right when he meets someone in person and he should say please and thank you.

But that's different from not being chatty enough during a range of lockdown video calls or crying because he's being forced to go to a disco he doesn't want to go to!

And you do need to be careful about what you stay to small children. Your opinion of him is everything and telling him you're disappointed about something that is essentially his personality could easily cause damage. Just need to be very careful on the wording.

SomeoneElseEntirelyNow Sun 19-Apr-20 19:28:24

Does he seem to care about what people other than you think/feel?

Jannt86 Sun 19-Apr-20 19:33:50

I don't think he should be shamed for not wanting to talk to people or not wanting to be at loud parties. I agree with prev posts. Accept the child you have but maybe talk none-judgementally about his choices and the rationalle behind them eg 'that's a shame you don't want to go to your friend's party. Now you've not had chance to say happy birthday to him and that might have made him sad and you've missed out on the chance to have some really nice food and cake etc etc' It might be a slow process but he'll eventually perhaps figure out that sometimes it's necessary to do things we're not keen on to maintain friendships etc. ITO his relatives I wouldn't push it. Our family are the few people that ought to accept our challenges and his family ought to understand and he should have the autonomy to decide he'd rather not interact with somebody. I like the ideas above of him making them something and them reading him a story or something. If he wants something though then I personally wouldn't allow him to get it by using you as an outlet. There's a fine line between nurturing a child and enabling behaviour that could become crippling. The reality is that he's not going to get by in life if he can't at least communicate with others to get what he needs. I would apologise and sympathise heavily but refuse to play chinese whispers and explain that if he wants something he has to ask that person directly. Don't get frustrated at him or be judgemental if he can't/won't do it and acknowledge how hard it must be but don't back down either.

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