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Opinions: is it right to force a square peg into a round hole?

(17 Posts)
Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 11:28:12

Will start with my own story, but would really like opinions (not on this particular situation, but on the thread title question). A bit long, but bear with me, I do have a point at the end!!!

I had a parent/teacher conference yesterday and it got me thinking about this... I have two DCs - DD is the type of child who effortlessly understands social interaction, fits in with any group, "gets" the playground rules etc.

DS, however, sounds like many DCs I read about on here: he's bright, highly articulate and worries me to bits because he just doesn't "get" the social group thing. He has a few close friends and seems well-liked by others, but gets picked on by a group of boys in his class (in a mild way - the school are quite tough on bullies). But he seems happy with life in general.

His teacher told me all about how well he's doing academically, and how much his behaviour in class has improved (he's almost 7) but then suggested we should look into therapy so he can "fit in better" (socially). Here's a child who has no major behaviour issues, but the teacher feels he needs to try harder to be like everyone else.

Although I worry about the friendship thing (who doesn't?), I can't help thinking that some of these so-called problems are actually qualities that will make him very interesting when he grows up. So how far should one go in forcing a square peg into a round hole, and how much should one simply respect (within reason) a child's personality?

scaryteacher Fri 23-Oct-09 11:54:16

Do you want him to be like everyone else? My ds had the same problems, but they have improved as he has got older. He turned 14 last week, and when he hit 12/13 he seemed to suddenly get the social thing much better.

There are still times when he says the most tactless things and I could marmalise him, but for the most part he has solid friendships, and you can take him out and not have to take him back again to say sorry.

He tells me sometimes that the social rules are hard to grasp, and I think they may be for boys, as they depend on nuance and are not clear cut.

He may need some guidance from you on how to make eye contact when talking to people, and when to hold your tongue, but I'd leave him if he's happy. It takes all sorts to make a world, and as long as he has friends, does it matter?

You always have some kids in a year group who are content to plough their own furrow and who don't want to be part of the 'group'/herd. They are frequently the most interesting ones to teach and to talk to as they are independent minded and can think for themselves; they don't just follow the group dynamic.

Helloall Fri 23-Oct-09 11:54:24

Has he been referred to the Senco officer - is his behaviour worrying you or the school? If not then the teacher has no right to casually throw the concept of 'therapy' about. Also, if the school were worried, surely they would have carried out some tests or would want to start investigating?

He is still very young, identity fluctuates wildly at this age. And that group/gang thing that boys go through can be very confusing and intimidating. If he is happy - and you are happy - and you feel there aren't any additional issues that might need investigating - then explain this to the teacher and see if perhaps there is more to this.

Fitting in is not something I am ever interested in. In fact, I think it causes more harm than good. Being happy with who you are is far better. I am actually thrilled when my son doesn't follow the herd. I think all parents guts twist when they see their kids doing something just to fit in with their peer group.

If my son's teacher suggested therapy to me I would want to have a more formal meeting to get to the bottom of what she is suggesting - and why? As I know it is something that would cause me great anxiety. I would have to find out whether the teacher was perhaps being a bit careless or whether there is something more serious underlying it. In which case, why aren't the school investigating in a more formal manner.

I suspect there is nothing to worry about and I hope you don't let this teachers comments get under your skin.

Piffle Fri 23-Oct-09 12:00:33

I have a very bright square peg in round hole 15 yr old
I am GLAD we ignored trying the change him, he now interacts nicely with a select group of friends and is very happy.
He was very badly bulied throughout primary though.
But he refused to change from being a sensitive, bright boy into a macho sporty type just to "fit in'

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 12:08:57

Nice to hear that other people have similar opinions! smile Sometimes its hard to know if my instincts are right (let him be his own person) or if I'm just being "precious".

Helloall, no underlying issues. He has chronic glue ear which does affect behaviour but hasn't impaired learning, and is well-loved by his teachers. I felt the therapy suggestion was thrown in casually, sort of "he's not quite like most boys in his class so maybe help him change". This is what prompted me to post - if a child has no real beavioural issues (agression, etc) and is simply different, should we change him/her? Glad to see I'm not the only one who disagees!!!

UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 12:09:17

I'm not really understanding the teachers (and yours too)concern, he has close friends and seems well liked so why does he not 'get' the social thing?
That seems quite social to me, is there something else going on?

Is she saying that he needs help in not becoming some sort of a target for bullies?

Wondering what sort of behaviour he was displaying in class that the teache4r thought was much improved?

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 12:15:01

UH, he used to do things like finish his work (usually ahead of everyone else) and wander round the classroom interrupting others; talk over others in circle time; decise to do an activity "his" way and not how the teacher wanted... (comes from having an anarchist for a grandfather!!!grin). Now, approaching 7, he's calmed down a lot.

The social thing is a separate issue; he's always had problems with groups, but gets on fine with a small number of children or one-on-one.

But really, I wasn't wanting particular thoughts on my DS, more on what everyone thinks about forcing children to fit the norm. Lovely feedback, thanks everyone!

UndomesticHousewife Fri 23-Oct-09 12:22:38

I know that you don't want to hear thoughts on you ds, but was he bored in the class?
Could be that he finds the work too easy if he was finishing before the others, a lot of so called disruptive children are very bright and the work they are doing is too easy and they become bored with the whole thing.
Anyway enough now on your lovely ds smile, there's always a fear that if kids don't conform that they are or will be troubled in some way or that smething is wrong with them.

I suppose no one really like the thought of their child being so different that they are being picked on or what ever but there's nothing you can do really about the personality your child has.

Let them be who they are and surely they will be more happy than their so called normal school friends.
Their family accepting who they are and embracing it can only be a goo dthing.

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 12:24:24

Aw, thanks! Lovely message!! (will print this thread later to read in moments of doubt wink)

risingstar Fri 23-Oct-09 15:39:42

i dont think you can tbh. i think that children learn the hard way and that all the different personalities adults have start early in childhood.

what is fascinating is watching a group of children from toddlers to teens ( dd1 is now 14 and has known most of her group from play group). you really can spot the leaders, the followers, the different ones and the socially inept!

equally funny is meeting up with people you knew at 14 and realising they haven't changed! and indeed, neither have you!

TubOfLardWithInferiorRange Fri 23-Oct-09 17:05:36

I wouldn't be adverse to therapy-someone to talk to about how he views the social environment and if there are things he would like to be different.

ampere Fri 23-Oct-09 19:17:17

Though I am agreement with much that has been said, it IS possible the teacher is just being 'kind' and has perhaps witnessed other square pegs who gradually become more isolated and considered 'weird' as the years pass and she wants to try and avoid that for your DS?

She may feel that the infant playground is a pretty accepting sort of place but that by the time they get to Y6 and beyond, the smallest sign of 'other' CAN make a DC a bully-magnet.

I am not suggesting for a second that there will be a problem with your DS- he sounds fine! BUT sometimes, it doesn't hurt for anyone to learn that there ARE rules and that knowing them can oil the cogs of life better! I rather think that in the absence of other 'indicators', formal therapy is somewhat 'sledgehammer' in its approach, but even the odd bit of guidance, SHOULD you feel there was any need to intervene at all, COULD be classed as 'therapy'!

Feenie Fri 23-Oct-09 19:32:07

I am a primary teacher, and would never dream of suggesting that any parent should look into therapy so that a child can "fit in better". And did she actually say he needs to try harder to be like everyone else? shock

Sounds very strange to me. hmm I would prefer to teach a class with some little individuals tbh - your ds's teacher would have a fit if she taught in our school, we have lots of slightly eccentric children and are much more interesting for it. We teach children to think for themselves, and be 'goats', not sheep!

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 19:49:23

Feenie, sounds like a nice school. smile
His school is really nice, but they are growing (there are 4 Y1s - his grade - this year compared to 3 last year) so maybe too much individuality becomes a problem in a larger school. I have a feeling we might have to move him somewhere smaller eventually (private school but diff school system where I live).

Both my parents are psychologists (social psych, though, not clinical), so I would definitely consider therapy if I thought at any point that it was necessary!

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 19:50:39

Sorry, meaning he's in a private school now but we are in Brazil and the state/private thing is a whole different ballgame over here! smile

TheFallenMadonna Fri 23-Oct-09 19:56:46

DS had awful problems making friends. Not when he was little, but from age 4 to, well, now - he just doesn't get the niceties of social interaction. We've talked about strategies. I tell him that if he knows how to make social interaction easier, he can choose whether to use his strategies or not. He has the power! grin

Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. He'll never be the most popular boy in the class, but he's much happier.

I want him to be him. I love him. He is completely fab, just as he is.

Geocentric Fri 23-Oct-09 20:25:58

"I want him to be him. I love him. He is completely fab, just as he is."

Beautifully said. Just how I feel... (don't we all?smile)

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