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6yo DS doesn't seem to be developing friendships. Should I be worried?

(22 Posts)
SofaQueen Sun 11-Oct-09 10:34:33

My DS1 is 6 and one of the oldest/tallest in his class. Since he was a toddler, I have had issues with aggression with him. He is not aggressive, per se, but if he has his feeling hurt or gets frustrated, he will react physically. He has been in his present school since Nursery and now is in Reception, and because of this and the fact that he was so much taller than the other boys, many boys shied away from him.

Every year, his behaviour has improved drastically (as one would expect with greater maturity), but the other boys remember him at this worst. He has never been invited on play dates without me inviting the other boys over first.

It is not that DS isn't friendly - he is. Everywhere he goes, he will make "friends" and play with other children. It is just that he doesn't develop deep friendships with other children. I ask him everyday who he plays with at school, and it is usually boys who are older (he seems to get along with older boys better than those in his own year). The problem is that it is fine for playing at break time, but these never develop into proper mates. When he does have playdates or sees his classmates outside of school, he just doesn't seem interested in playing with them.

DS doesn't seem in general to mind that he isn't invited on play dates and is ignored for many birthday parties (except for the invite-all-the-class ones), but I do mind a bit for him. There are a few boys he does play with and like, and is hurt that he doesn't seem to be invited to theirs.

I have asked teachers, but they have said friendships at this age are transient, and that I shouldn't worry because he is lively and well-liked as far as they could see, which is different from my view of the situation.

Should I be worried, and what should/can I do?

Shelly75 Sun 11-Oct-09 11:06:22

I feel quite similar with my DS, just started school and in same type of situation. I feel sad about the lack of playdates'birthday invites etc as He would love to get some invitations. I don't know what to do about the situation.

SofaQueen Sun 11-Oct-09 11:18:25

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I know I can't make friends for him, but really not sure what to do.

sunburntats Sun 11-Oct-09 11:28:46

mine too.
Not a loner as such (in a mass murderer in the making kinda way) but he is lonely.

He is known as "the naughty one" in his class and so no invites come.
I see the kids clutching handfuls of invites to their parties but when i check his book bag...nothing.
its probably over a year since he was invited to anything.
He is in year 1 now and is 6.

Luckily he does have pals outside of school, cousins etc so we nearly always have kids in the house.
I hate that he has this label because he is with this bunch of kids now til he finishes at primary, so i have a terrible feeling that it is going to stick.

sunburntats Sun 11-Oct-09 11:31:46

naughty label incidentally has evolved from bieng "the boy who just cant sit still", the teachers get very irritated by it and say that it is dispruptive.
He has never ever been able to sit still. It seems that they have interpreted this as he has no span of concentration, this gets him into trouble.sad

SofaQueen Sun 11-Oct-09 11:33:05

I wish he had older sibling or cousins in this country - then it wouldn't be so bad. I'm really hoping that he will be a candidate for the 7+ so we can move him and he can have a fresh start somewhere else.

colditz Sun 11-Oct-09 11:38:12

My ds1 also never gets invited anywhere - it's as if the other parents eye him up and think "Uh uh, no way, looks like a nightmare to control."

Which is kind of true (in the wriggliness stakes, he would struggle to sit at a table and finish a meal nicely) but he really is the kindest, non-fight-picking, unstubborn easy going affable little chap - he's good when he notices you're speaking to him, but sadly you have to be repetative and insistant on having his attention, and I think it's just too much hard work when you could invite a child just like your own and know what you are dealing with!

Shelly75 Sun 11-Oct-09 11:46:18

It is so nice to know that my ds is not the only one .... he is such a lovely little boy but can be silly in unstructured situations or is he is unsure about how to behave. So what people see is the "silly" boy, not the chatty, bright, gentle one.

We are also lucky that we have friends out of school so he has poeple to play with, but my heart breaks when he says "why can't I go to X's house for tea?"

sunburntats Sun 11-Oct-09 11:47:38

must admit, there is some effort in inviting other peoples kids over for tea or to play isnt there. Usually after work, we have tea, watch sponge bob, do reading and homework, shower then bed. I work full time so dont have too much energy att he end of the day.
Nothing personal to any ones children, but we have our routine.

Should do it for ds and his friendships that are not there and that are not likely to happen either. Should try for him really. [blush}

SofaQueen Sun 11-Oct-09 12:01:48

My son is just like yours Shelly -very silly in unstructured situations, but at heart incredibly sweet, loving, and bright.

I remember that he used to go up to boys from his school and give great big bear hugs to them if we saw them outside of school. Unfortunately, he was so much bigger than the other boys, that the smaller ones were actually quite frightened of him. This would really crush me because he was only being sweet, but it didn't come across correctly.

A agree about the effort thing. It is easier to just keep him busy with activities than having to worry about making playates, cooking food that the other child will like, making sure that the other child is enjoying himself. I just find playdates more stress for me!

Heated Sun 11-Oct-09 12:12:57

Ds is 5 and find the whole school friendship thing tricky too, having been fine at nursery. Dh and I have concerns re his behaviour in school since he comes home distressed over repeated clashes with two friends. He's also been told not to play with one of them as they don't get on but he's not sure who it was who told him this, just it wasn't his class teacher.

He just thinks it's his fault. My CM who knows everybody believes it's the other two boys but she may be being a bit partial! His teacher has recognised it's an issue as he now sits at a table with a group of other children, including a boy he really likes.

Think we will be in for an interesting parents' evening.

cat64 Sun 11-Oct-09 12:17:30

Message withdrawn

amberflower Sun 11-Oct-09 15:45:19

cat64 I think that's a really good way of looking at it - very reassuring!

My DS (5.2, just gone into year 1) is similar - there are various children he talks about who I know he does play with, but he certainly hasn't developed deep friendships, and on plenty of occasions he's come home from school and said 'I played on my own today because no-one would play with me'. We've had a few party invites but he certainly doesn't get lots in the way some children do.

But - it doesn't seem to trouble him that much. It troubles me far more I think! Sometimes I think I panic about him spending a playtime pootling around on his own, when actually he's quite happy to do so from time to time, so why should I worry?

And I do think there can be a bit of a difference here between boys and girls. The girls in his class seem to have much closer 'deeper' friendships (if 5/6 year olds can be 'deep' but you know what I mean) but there is a lot more angst there, lots more snidey nastiness than with the boys. So as much as I also worry about my DS being a bit lonely from time to time, I'd actually rather him the way he is than deal with some of the more complex social knots the girls seem to tie themselves up in.

OP, I would be reassured by your son's teachers if I were you - I am sure they would tell you if they really thought there was a problem.

fatzak Sun 11-Oct-09 15:59:10

Phew, reassuring to know that I'm not the only one going through this with DS. Sunburthats - I worry too that this non invitation/play dates will carry on. DS also has the stigma of the boy who can't sit still and his last teacher didn't help by giving him a red mat to sit on which just made him stand out as somehow different. We changed schools after reception and being the new boy just doesn't seem to be going awaysad

We also don't have many friends out of school - DS has his brother who is two years younger to play with, but we don't have any family or friends with 6 year old sons!

Don't suppose any of you are in West Yorkshire are you grin

mollyroger Sun 11-Oct-09 16:00:58

worry when he is almost 9 and still not getting any

VintageGaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahdenia Sun 11-Oct-09 16:02:13

There is a book about helping your children to understand about friendship ... I've seen it recommended on here. Will rummage.

VintageGaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahdenia Sun 11-Oct-09 16:03:50

The Unwritten Rules of Friendship

MollieO Sun 11-Oct-09 16:16:03

If he is 6 and in reception he must be a year older than his classmates as usually reception year age is 4 to 5. I'm sure that must make it harder to develop friendships with children some of whom may be nearly 2 years younger. Could you try and invite some of the older reception children for playdates? Sometimes if the children develop friendships outside school then that helps them when they are in school.

defineme Sun 11-Oct-09 16:30:05

I think there's different issues here. Being given the 'naughty one' label is horrid and perhaps something that needs more discussion with the teacher.

However, I think a lot of mums view their son's friends or lack of from a female perspective (cos we would wopuldn't we!) and get it wrong.

Girls do often have best friends and boys often don't. Just because the friendships don't stretch to out of school doesn't mean they're not friends.

There is nothing wrong with a 6yr old boy only seeing his family at the weekend/after school.

However,if you're worried about after school and lack of play why not try something
organised like Beavers?

Op -trust the teachers -they know a lot more 6yr old boys than you do.

SofaQueen Sun 11-Oct-09 18:53:43

Thank you for all the reassurances. I will listen to the teacher, and just keep a casual eye out for any signs of unhappiness on DS's part. I'm also going to check out the link posted above.

Never thought of Beavers - it it the same thing as Cub Scouts (junior Boy Scouts)?

defineme Sun 11-Oct-09 18:57:41

yes it's scouts for 5-7 i think- they have camps and stuff.

cat64 Sun 11-Oct-09 21:16:50

Message withdrawn

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