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DS (8) is finding the world a bit too rough and tough - what can we do?

(23 Posts)
Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 14:13:10

My DS is finding life outside the home a bit too much like hard work. Picture a very soft and cuddly boy, who likes kisses and sitting on knees and gossiping and giggling lots for inexplicable reasons.

He likes football so we took him to a football club. He was the only boy who skipped on the pitch. Usually a long way away from the ball. He's the same on the tennis court. At swimming lessons he engages the teachers and others in conversation and forgets to do the butterfly or whatever he is supposed to be doing.

He told me he finds school "a bit too rough". To put the school in context it is a pretty posh school. The poshest school within a 20 mile radius in any event. Simply crammed full of nancy boys in caps. The teachers are a bit too brusque for him, the PE teacher sounds a bit sadistic tbh and he doesn't like rugby, though he does quite like the choir.

He is quite charming and I've never known him be malicious or tell a lie. He does what he is told immediately and his room is tidy and his teeth are always brushed. But he is very easily and quite seriously hurt when people say careless or mildly hurtful things.

What can we do to help him toughen up?

Flightputsonahat Sat 02-Aug-08 14:16:43

I'm not sure if you want to toughen him up, he sounds gorgeous and his time will come smile

What about finding a way somehow to make the world soften up a bit for him?

I don;t know what to suggest re schools though, unless you wanted to HE.

(wanna swap children?) wink

cornsilk Sat 02-Aug-08 14:17:27

Don't do anything he sounds gorgeous! (Do you want to swap?)

cornsilk Sat 02-Aug-08 14:17:55

X post flight lol!

Flightputsonahat Sat 02-Aug-08 14:20:17

I got there first CS!!! grin

No takers for ds1 I presume...he is a right little toughy!

Bink Sat 02-Aug-08 14:22:17

What a nice sounding boy.
Is the school all-boys? Sounds to me like he would like some girl company - how about out of school activities that tend to be girl-heavy, like riding?

Otherwise - has he read Molesworth? Fotherington-Tomas is, seen through adult eyes, a brilliantly imagined child - apparently a softie, but notice how he is never a victim: if there is bullying going on, F-T is simply just not there. And, when in goal, he talks to Molesworth about contemporary philosophy. He's just fab, and profound proof of the fab-ness of boys like that.

Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 14:23:31

Thank you for responses I'll take lots more children. I wonder if part of the problem (if it is a problem, which I think it is a bit now and could be much worse later) is that he has an older sister who expects and receives instant obedience from him.

Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 14:25:21

It is an all-bys school. I wonder about riding, hmm that's a good thought. He is all gooey with animals.

Bronze Sat 02-Aug-08 14:25:22

Ballet? and I'm not saying that in a take the piss kind of way. Its good exercise, full of girls and is quite tough in a softer way. Plus there is a shortage of boys so he would b e welcomed with open arms.

Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 14:27:19

Gosh that's an absolute stroke of brilliance - genius idea - he loves dancing. He loves loves loves dancing.

<why didn't I think of that>

findtheriver Sat 02-Aug-08 14:27:46

Can I swap him - he sounds wonderful!
I've come across a few children who sound similar. I don't think there's any one 'right' approach, other than to make it clear that his positive qualities (ie being truthful, charming etc) are absolutely fine and that he shouldn't feel he needs to change for anyone.
Re: the sports thing. Some children just don't like organised sport. My ds would never go to football or swimming clubs. He's naturally pretty sporty, and will happily have a kickabout with mates or go for a swim when he chooses but would never in a million years go to a club - it's way too organised for him. So I would advise providing opportunities in other ways, but not forcing the issue.
Also, don't equate 'posh school' with gentle, sensitive pupils. Although a state school might seem more 'rough and tumble' on the surface, the real test is whether your son finds other people he's truly comfortable with. And that's quite a hard thing to define or pin down. My own ds was in an independent school when younger (choral scholarship) but chose to move to state when his voice broke and although the state school has a broader social mix and is less 'cosy' on the surface, ds feels far more 'himself'. He is older than your ds, but is also very sensitive, and a real thinker. He has a lovely group of friends who are probably best described as the 'liberal intelligensia' within the school, and he's never been happier. In an interesting way I think NOT being protected by the very unatural narrow atmosphere which is inevitable in a private school has given him greater confidence.
It also sounds as though your ds is not suited to the manner of some of the teachers at his school. Good teachers don't usually need to be brusque (of course there will be times when any teacher needs to be firm or even a bit shouty, but generally it's not a good tool to use). And a sadistic teacher would be a definite no for me. No child will learn when they feel intimidated.

MrsSnape Sat 02-Aug-08 14:30:59

My DS is the same. He's 9 and thinks football is too rough. He likes drama....have you ever seen School of Rock? well my DS is "fancy pants".

I enrolled him in karate, he's been there a year now and loves it. Graded to yellow belt, done a few tournaments (won 2 fights) and gives as much back to the bullies at school as they give him.

He's still a bit of a "nancy boy" but he wouldn't be "him" any other way and at least now he can hold his own when the others start on him.

Bink Sat 02-Aug-08 14:31:15

Oh - following on the Fotherington-Tomas thread (and girl-heavy activities like riding/ballet) - there's a scene where fluffy curly tippy-toes F-T turns out to be a demon tennis player. So, how about tennis too?

Bink Sat 02-Aug-08 14:33:39

Oh - and modern-day cub scouts equivalent (ie, the co-ed ones) (or is there something with not such religious overtones - Woodcraft Folk?) might be an idea too?

Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 14:34:46

He does go to tennis lessons, has reasonable hand-eye co-ordination and they say he is goodish, but he will skip around on the court so. I do mean skip and not run. Unfortunately they don't play tennis as a school sport until they get to senior school, so it doesn't help him there.

findtheriver Sat 02-Aug-08 14:34:47

Would also add that you can help him by talking through various scenarios. You say he is easily hurt when other people say quite mild or careless things, so it would be worth talking this through quite explicitly and explaining comments which people might make. Children can find it really hard to keep things in perspective, so talking about this would be helpful. Even practising how to respond in certain situations can be helpful.

frogs Sat 02-Aug-08 14:39:03

If you are within striking distance of the Southwest this is one of the world's most marvellous setups, which has achieved major personality/confidence changes in several children including some of mine and various friends' kids.

Fab place. Amazing pastoral care, and very good at challenging children to stretch themselves without over-demanding them.

TakeMeHome Sat 02-Aug-08 14:41:14

Mrs Snape - pmsl at Fancy Pants !!! I know that film well as my dd watches it all the time. Fancy Pants is my fave character in the film and I bet your ds is just lovely. Wish my dc were a bit more like that.

Notquitegrownup Sat 02-Aug-08 14:46:33

I was also going to say that your ds sounds lovely, but suggest Karate too. Ds1 loved it, and is very anti pain.

MrsSnape Sat 02-Aug-08 14:58:59

grin Its a great film, a favourite in our house too.
DS would rather liken himself to Jack Black than Fancy Pants however! pmsl bless him

My fave line in the film...

Teacher - "what makes you mad?"
Fancy Pants - "You!"
Teacher - "c'mon Billy, we've finished telling me off now..."
Fancy Pants - "You're tacky and I hate you!"
Teacher - "You see me after class!" pmsl

(sorry blush

Flightputsonahat Sat 02-Aug-08 15:03:06

He sounds like he is already very confident though.
Don't have to be tough or boyish in trad terms to be confident and happy.

Quattrocento Sat 02-Aug-08 23:55:38

Thanks for the link frogs - shall look into that.

I like the idea of making the world a softer place for him - or his experience of the world in any event - but how to do that?

Take on board the stuff about the school. I'm not especially convinced about the school tbh. It's a terribly proud place )though I'm not entirely sure why) and DS just isn't a terribly proud sort of person.

findtheriver Sun 03-Aug-08 13:05:23

It's interesting you use the word 'proud' to describe the school, Quattro, because I think my ds felt this about his previous school to some extent. It was an independent, selective school (though not a top of the league one) - ds was there on a choral scholarship. DS achieved well there musically, but he never felt 'proud' of the place in the way that many of the pupils seemed to. From my own experience, I think this is the one downside of private education - once you are in it, and paying (we still had to do a top up of fees) you just start to believe in the whole shebang, because quite frankly you'd be nuts not to! The school sells you this picture of high achieving pupils, wonderful resources, cricket on the lawn etc and ok, it may be true, but that doesnt mean it's intrinsically any better than the alternatives. Some children (my ds included, and it sounds like your ds may be the same) just don't buy into the whole corporate thing. My ds wanted to be in lessons where he rated the teachers (he didnt give a damn whether there are 15 or 30 kids in the class). He wanted to find other pupils he feels genuinely comfortable with. He wants to come home at the end of the school day and not have to fuss about with sports matches, organised activities etc - if he wants to do something, he'll do it separately from school. It took me longer to adjust to the change than it did for him - I guess I clung to the belief that having been paying school fees for 6 years, he must have been gaining far more than he would in state. Musically he did. In every other of school life he didnt.
Your ds is younger, but one thing this experience taught me is that children change and develop their own views and their needs change as well. I would definitely keep an open mind about what is best for your ds. It may be that as he grows he will adapt more to his school and feel happier there, or it may be that he and you realise that there is a better alternative. You sound tuned in to what works for him and what doesnt, and the important thing is to try to keep that channel of communication, which does tend to get harder as they get older!

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