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DS (only child) not willing to entertain himself

(24 Posts)
Liliben Fri 12-Jun-09 12:26:05

Last half term was exhausting with my DS. He's 4. He has never been too great at entertaining himself but last holiday I wanted to pull my hair out because he was so demanding. I have been worried because he is a bright child but doesn't seem to find any enjoyment by himself. He reads well and his maths is improving but he doesn't seem to flow when playing. Imaginative play is a no-no. He is far too logical. He talks non stop and doesn't find any enjoyment in being by himself. I am a drama teacher but I have been a stay at home mum until he started nursery class in the mornings this year. I have almost done too much with him, lots of creative stuff, reading, and lots of outdoors stuff. But since he's gone to school he doesn't want to do anything apart from play outside. I've gone along with this thinking he's oing enough at school but I've now received a report from school saying that he refuses to do mist things (especially singing and group stuff) although he's more than able. But in the house at home he's unwilling unless I let him out to play. What do I do?

jenhden Fri 12-Jun-09 23:42:17

my dd1 sounds similar and i worried that i had made her like it but she is an adult in waiting and is naturally more comfortable one to one than in group activities. She's now 7 and has gradually developed the group activities.
Her nursery didn't push her - some people are happier observing than participating and if forced they run!
THeres plenty of time to get into organised education - in other countries they don't start until 7 so if he likes being outside i would let him be if i was you - he'll be learning just as much out there as inside i reckon.
i'm not sure but i think the constant chatting is developmental - my dd2 is the same age and gives a full running commentary on everything at the moment (as did dd1) but it lessened and now i spend a lot of time trying to get her to tell me what she's thinking!

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Sat 13-Jun-09 00:08:24

This sounds alot like my ds, he's 10. He's good at working in a group now but can tend to take over as he's already worked out how to do it by the time the teacher has finished talking. I found that things got alot better when he got older and when he was given a nintendo ds, then I managed to get an hour to myself before all the talking/questions returned. Lego is good for imaginative play and it requires logic to build it (sometimes). You have to emphasis that he needs to join in at school though.

Could you get a play date for home?

womblingfree Sat 13-Jun-09 06:15:37

I can sympathise as my DD is 4.8, also an only child and doesn't stop from the minute she gets up in the morning til she eventually goes to sleep at night!

How good is he on the PC? It is the one thing that will keep my DD occupied for a good half hour +. There are some great kids websites but TBH Cbeebies and Nick Jr are probably the best. They have loads of stuff that would probably appeal to him and keep him occupied. Try Kerwizz on Cbeebies or Special Agent OSO on Nick Jr.

Best of luck!

Liliben Sat 13-Jun-09 14:13:40

Thanks for the reassurances. Deep down I know things are ok but some days can get the better of me. Teachers seem shocked that he is not a performer like me but I've tried to explain that he is in that he's such an attention seeker even though he doesn't want to conform and please. Singing nursery rhymes with movements for an audience is not the type of attention he wants. He loves reading one-to-one and anything that gives him sole attention. The teacher always comments that he goes over the top in role play and directs the other childrens' actions. But in circle time he is fidgety and gets bored. He told me that there's no point in putting his hand up because he's never asked so he shouts out the answer. I was in class observing one day when they were discussing days of the week in circle time. DS shouted out the correct answer and then the teacher proceeded to ask six other people before getting the right answer again (the other kids probably thought DS had got the answer wrong). I asked him why he shouted out and he commented that he always knows the amswer and that they'd be able to get on to more interesting stuff (like playing outside) more quickly if he did. He then demands attention at home because he claims that he doesn't get all the attention in school and that he's ignored.

This rant seems to have gone off on a tangent. DS does like to play with construction stuff and I agree that this constitutes imaginative play. We have had friends to play and it has made me even more aware how little make believe stuff (e.g. with character figures and dressing up) that DS gets up to. His teacher complains that he won't join in with this sort of thing but I can't see how I can force him to be interested in something. I was also in class when the teacher was using a postman puppet to encourage children to play a pairing game with letters which they then posted into the postbox. He told her that it wasn't really the postman asking for letters it was her way of tricking them into playing a pairing game.

His interests are lego, knex and transformers (but he wants me there watching)but mainly playing outside in the sand and climbing trees (which he'll do by himself). He'd ride his bike all day. I can't make him enjoy the things I do. He's far more practical and has more common sense than I do now. I will encourage him to play more on the PC though at the moment when he does go on it he wants me there watching and giving my seal of approval. Maybe he's getting overlooked a bit too much in school (there are 30 in his class). He never used to be this bad.

I don't feel as if I've done something terribly wrong!!

Liliben Sat 13-Jun-09 14:16:29

DS also complains that it's only the children who don't speak very well who get asked to answer questions. He's such a chatterbox (he started asking why questions before his second birthday) I'm scared he'll just not bother.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Sat 13-Jun-09 14:31:06

He really does sound like my son. He's been like this for a long time and is seen as naughty at school because of it. I think my son has aspergers as there are certain parts of school he has problems with and I really do think this is something you also need to look into or possibly ADHD.
The teacher's ignoring your son when he shouts out because she's trying to show him that shouting out does not get a reward. It sounds like your son doesn't get this. It's important that you talk to him about the problems he's having at school and tell him how it is in a way he can understand, ie, he must work in a group as when he's older he'll have to work with other people so he needs to be able to do this, school's there to help him. He seems clued up to the hidden meanings of things so there's little pretend play here to be honest. Kid's behaviour will go down hill if things don't go the way they want them to, often it's because they are unable to communicate what the problem really is. My son is a non-conformist and it can be a battle to get him to comply as he doesn't get why the rules are there and why they apply to him, which is (I believe) part of the aspergers I'm trying to get him assessed for.

Liliben Sun 14-Jun-09 11:05:16

I did think of ADHD but I've been told by his own teacher that he willingly participates in things of interest to him (he responds well during story time and answers effectively). With ADHD I'm told children can't concentrate and can't decipher what to listen to. DS listens well in his karate lessons and is so perceptive he can show you which routines everyone else has to do as well as still knowing his own sequence.

At home music sessions with me he's brilliant. He repeats rhythms instantly and can dance and respond to music telling me what it makes him feel without prompting. He'll say this is a song about nasty men or this makes me move like a fairy. He also follows rules well at home. He knows he must eat at the table, dress himself, tidy up, he is't allowed much telly. He knows behaving well allows me time to play with him.

But in the presence of other kids he just wants to leap and jump. On both school reports it's been mentioned that he goes "over the top" but never explained exactly what he does. (I'm meeting with the teacher next week.) DS just does not have any will to please. Sticker charts are pointless.He won't do stuff because that's what is expected of you. If he enjoys something he's fine and I'm quite firm with him with consequences. Because he loves attention so much, not doing stuff with him usually works. But he doesn't conform to rules at school unless he agrees with the reasoning behind them. He didn't answer 'here' to the register at all at school for a whole term. The teacher informed me and I asked him why. He replied, "She's said hello at the door when I arrived so she's knows I'm there, and I've fetched my name and put it on the train to show her that. I don't understand why I have to waste time doing it all again. When he tells me, it all seems so logical. Does this sound like aspergers? I informed the teacher and she asked the class if anyone knew why they did the register. She proceeded to explain that the headmaster needs it in case there is a fire. He's answered since.

It's quite frustrating and exhausting for me because this is what I get all day. But it must be quite difficult for the teaher with another 29 in the class. I'm finding it difficult deciding what to do to help him!

mrz Sun 14-Jun-09 11:59:26

ADHD doesn't prevent children from participating for long periods of time in things that interest them and often have good long term memory so can give detailed reports of "events" but may struggle to follow a series of instructions especially if they aren't interested in what they are being asked to do.

Liliben Sun 14-Jun-09 13:27:19

Thanks. I get very confused with quite a lot of conflicting information about ADHD. DS doesn't struggle with following instructions. He knows what to do, but decides he doesn't want to do it. I've tried explaining that there are lots of things that he must do that he might not enjoy (e.g. tidying up which he doesn't like but knows is necessary) but in school he's easily distracted by others.

womblingfree Sun 14-Jun-09 13:51:24

Liliben - your DS sounds like a very bright and independent little man. I think perhaps some of it is connected to the only child aspect - as well as having just one myself, I am an only child too.

The refusing to answer the register (I did but refused to call 1 particular teacher 'sir' cos none of the other teachers referred to themselves as that), and not liking rules that he can't see the logic behind sound very like me as a child. A lot of the other stuff you've described sounds like my DD (only applying herself for any length of time when it suits her, directing other children etc), so I expect I am in for some fun and games when she starts primary school in September!

Do you know how much 1-2-1 or small group time they allocate at school? I don't know yet the details of this at DD's new school but they do have facilities and staffing for small group work as required.

The other thing, which won't help now, but it sounds as if you DS may well turn out to be in the 'gifted and talented' category, but they don't classify them as such and treat them accordingly until they are about 8 years old, so it may be in time that that will make a difference.

Liliben Mon 15-Jun-09 08:44:28

Cheers womblingfree. I've been into class and in a class of 30 they have 4 staff which isn't too bad. With the new Foundation stage in Wales children are allowed to choose which activity they want to do. I think being an only child when he meets other kids he wants to run a bit wild. He always chooses boisterous stuff. He'll never choose the quiet stuff or group work around a table even though he does this for long periods of time at home with me. I saw him take part in a small group maths outside acticity which he excelled at. The only sitting down stuff he does are in whole class situations and he shouts out in these or switches off in movement and music whole class stuff. The class is to small to do these in smaller groups for disturbing others. At home he loves music. His teacher says he dislikes doing exactly the same as others and takes things one step further or over the top.

THe definitions of ADHD and gifted and talented seem very similar to me. Either way, being a teacher myself, kids at either end of the spectrum are always difficult for a class which seems to be taught to the 'middle'.

Bucharest Mon 15-Jun-09 08:50:21

Liliben I don't think it has anything to do with your son being an only child. (my daughter is also an only) It sounds to me like he's so bright smile that some of the stuff they are doing at his pre-school is a bit boringly easy for him! It's amazing that he is already reading- dd is 5 and a half and just starting to make out certain words.

I second the idea of the websites...your son sounds like he would love some of the "learny" ones as we call them in our house....there are some great Usborne book linked websites where the kids can play about in universes etc.. My dd loves them..

I linked to a few in another thread, I'll go and see if I can find it.

Bucharest Mon 15-Jun-09 13:06:56

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/education/757681-HELP-Need-ideas-for-a-lesson-please

Liliben Tue 16-Jun-09 10:17:53

Thanks so much Bucharest. There are some great ideas there. And lots of stuff that we do already at home which is reassuring. DS loves talking about his globe, planets, volcanoes, global warming and stuff. He will instigate conversations about things like this often and loves doing through books (as long as I'n with him). I suppose he wants me to teach and tell him more and more. Maybe I just need to relax a bit more.

womblingfree Wed 17-Jun-09 08:30:02

"His teacher says he dislikes doing exactly the same as others and takes things one step further or over the top."

Sounds familiar grin!

As Bucharest said, he's obviously a very bright little boy. I know it must be hard work at the moment but I would definitely think that in time as he gets more opportunity to develop his own skills and interests and do more independent work at school things will improve.

Best of luck!

Liliben Wed 17-Jun-09 12:06:38

It is exhausting work with DS wanting me to fulfil his needs at home because he is bored at school. But I don't mind doing it as long as I'm not harming him in anyway. That has been my concern because he won't do things by himself. But I suppose he's not happy with doing stuff that he knows he's able to do. He always wants a challenge that probably needs some direction from me. We've had some improvement working on the computer. I'll praise him for his efforts by watching him a whilr and then leave him to it. He managed 10 minutes by himself.

I've also noticed that he's pretty good at entertaining himself before school in the morning. He gets himself ready and then plays with lego for about 15 minutes. He's obviously wanting one to one attention after being part of a crowd at school.

I live in Wales and the Foundation Stage is a bit different to that in England. Independent work doesn't seem to surface until age 8!

DS is great company. I sometimes feel that teachers but more oftrn than not parents don't know what to do because they need to be one step ahead of the game with him! One mum last week suggested I request a classroom assistant for him to teach him to keep still after seeing him in class.

canttouchthis Wed 17-Jun-09 12:12:33

sorry you are having problems, i also have an only child and he can't play on his own, i have to join in and day in day out it starts to get on top of me too.

it's very stressful at times. i hope things get better for you soon. sorry i don't have any advice, my one is only 2yo.

Liliben Thu 18-Jun-09 11:35:50

Yes cantouchthis. I thought things would improve as he went to school but things are actually even more difficult. Been to school today and was told his behaviour is constantly attention seeking and suggested that he wasn't getting enough positive attention at home!! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Cakesandale Thu 18-Jun-09 14:40:12

I think some kids just are like this. Mine is now 6 and I was always beng promised that things would change, but they never have and I don't think they will. I hesitate to say it is because they are bright, because I konw a lot of bright children aren't like this - but I do think it is one reason. Another may be because he is an only - so is mine - and it is harder for them if they don't have a readily available child playmate. But also, too, some people just have a personality where they need to be interacting. I am a bit of a loner: my daughter is not. It can be infuriating, but sometimes we just have to accept. I have found this very, very hard, so i am not preaching (believe me, sometimmes I could scream, so I do know how you feel)but acceptance is sometimes all we can hope for.

Liliben Thu 18-Jun-09 21:28:07

I totally agree Cakesandale. As a child I think I was quite similar to DS but told by mum that things improved when I learnt to read. It was the only thing I would do by myself. I didn't even sleep in my own bed. At least DS is a wonderful sleeper and as yet has never decided that he's not going to bed at 7. But being similar I do know that it is lonely as an adult wanting to bounce off other people all the time and I would have appreciated being able to enjoy my own company. Maybe I just have to accept that he's quite like me.

woodstock3 Sat 20-Jun-09 19:46:44

he does sound like a very bright little boy and you have clearly done a wonderful job encouraging his intellectual curiosity. but the one thing bright kids often find hard (speaking from grim experience) is social skills, especially if they quickly become aware that other kids around them aren't as bright. (the thing you said about him always knowing the answer and getting frustrated when he isnt called made me think of this).
i'd do two things- concentrate on talking about sharing and taking turns (this now means not just sharing toys but sharing attention, you take turns to be called by the teacher: explain that it is NOT just a test of who knows the answer because that would often be the same kids, it's a test of taking turns and ensuring that everybody has a go at answering). by what you said about the register, your ds likes to go by the rules, so make clear this is what the rules of circle time or whatever it's called is.
the other thing is the advice always given to parents of gifted kids - make sure that as well as doing the things they're good at (soaking up information like a sponge) they regularly do stuff they're rubbish at (sport if they are physically uncoordinated, music if they're tone deaf, whatever) which helps them understand that not everybody is good at everything and teaches patience.
you say he went to nursery - what was it like there? same or different? if he did not go to nursery for very long the overthetopness may just be overexcitement at being around lots of kids - otherwise it could very well be frustration and a desire for the attention he probably gets at home for being good at stuff.

Liliben Sun 28-Jun-09 17:53:35

Thanks woodstock. I've been to Ds parents evening and feel better in many ways. Though the teacher did say he is constantly wanting to be the centre of attention, she did say that he was manageable although he does tend to find playing in groups difficult. DS did go to nursery but only for 6 months (2 days a week) when he was around 3 years old. He hated it because it was so much of a shock. AT the time it was quite structured where kids went from one workstation to the other in the mornings, had and hour of TV (which he hated) after lunch and then free play in the pm. I took him out because he cried everyday.
At least he likes preschool. But the regime now with the foundation stage is totally different. He basically can do what he pleases for 2 hours (apart from the bried time in circle time). I'm concentrating at the moment on trying to get him to realise that DH and I can chat without him having to be a part of every conversation. Colouring in and stuff is his weak point so I might see if I can get him to do more!!

fatslag Sun 28-Jun-09 18:06:07

Enkarta Kids is great for gifted children. ds1 now says unintelligible phrases from time to time and tells me its Armenian. Or Albanian. Or something. smile

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