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Key Stage 3 introverts - anyone else worried about lack of social interaction due to lockdown?

(18 Posts)
graghion Thu 04-Jun-20 08:09:46

My DS2 is in Year 8, and 13 years old. He describes himself as 'socially awkward', a term he picked up from teen-tv, but he's basically just an introvert like the rest of us in the family, and finds being sociable an effort. After a year and a half at his secondary school he had just about bonded with a small friendship group, but he's had no interest in keeping in touch with them since the lockdown. He's exchanged a few Whatsapp messages, but nothing more. He rejects any encouragement from me to make video calls to other kids, hook up with them via online gaming, or arrange a socially-distanced bike ride. He also gets quite angry when I "go on about it" so I try not to.

Until recently he was enjoying DS1's company, but since the lockdown eased, his big brother is going out more regularly to meet with friends. Me and DH are both working from home, so he's not alone, but I do worry that there's a long lonely road ahead before he goes back to school in (hopefully) September. Normally he'd be playing a team sport regularly, but that has all stopped for now.

He's doing his school work ok, playing solo games on his phone, watching tv, doing a bit of cooking, going for walks with us, a daily run with his bro, practising his piano (he gets video lessons) but its hard to motivate him to do much else.

I'm planning a couple of picnics with families who have boys of similar age, but they're not kids he'd normally choose to hang out with and the social distancing won't help them to bond.

I know there are no easy answers to this, but I'm guessing there are many other kids in the same position. Anyone out there?

OP’s posts: |
Malmontar Thu 04-Jun-20 09:45:19

I sympathise with you. We have a 12 year old in y7 who has an expressive language disorder. Her language has come on massively and she was doing really well, you really couldn't tell the differnce but since the lockdown, all speech and language has stopped and it's incredible how far back she's gone.
The interactions in class and around school count for so much speaking so, although my worries are from a different position, they are of a similar perspective. Thankfully we have a lot of local friends she has been meeting up with since lockdown has eased. It's proving very difficult for her to manage arguments and disagreements as she just can't phrase herself well so she's been more and more reluctant to play out with them. It breaks my heart because she was doing so well at school.
All the community speech and language therapists have been moved to hospitals to help with covid 19 (don't ask, I have no idea why or how they'd help) so no option of having video sessions either. She was getting an hour 1:1 per week, so it's a big jump.

I have nothing to add that would be of help to you, except keep encouraging and don't underestimate the picnic, even if it's not kids he'd normally like, it's still peers.

graghion Thu 04-Jun-20 10:23:49

Thanks for sharing your story Malmontar. I know there are many children in similar and worse positions. They are all very hidden away, so it's good to have somewhere to air them.

OP’s posts: |
lanthanum Thu 04-Jun-20 11:38:11

Yes, DD 13 is withdrawing too. She has a good bunch of friends, and they do usually Zoomchat on a Sunday, and sometimes someone organises a Netflix party (they watch a movie together and use textchat while they're doing it), but I get the impression that none of them are very good at initiating- it's often been a parent behind it. We've suggested phoning a friend, and now going for a socially-distanced walk, but she's not keen - similar reaction to yours. She's normally quite happy in her own company - she would happily spend the whole of a school holiday without meeting her friends - but I don't think the prolonged time is doing her much good. Last week she was quite down on Sunday and didn't want to join the zoom meet.

I'm relieved that she learns one subject in a small group out of school, and that is continuing by zoom, so she does get some interaction with her friends through that. She also has quite a good bunch of online friends (made through a minecraft server - I know - but she is well aware of the possibility that they are not who they say they are, and has no intention of trying to meet up or give away her location).

azaleanth90 Thu 04-Jun-20 21:25:14

Yes, mine's met one friend twice and that's it. Mostly solo gaming. Gets very angry if I suggest making plans, going out etc. It's a very difficult age to help them, isn't it?

Oldtimer2020 Fri 05-Jun-20 22:38:27

@Malmontar
I empathise. I also have a DS with an expressive language disorder. I have noticed his speech has regressed since lockdown. But we’ve had bad patches in the past where I have been equally worried and he’s bounced back, so I am holding onto that. I think there are lots of children finding zoom/FaceTime such an alien way to communicate with friends, they don’t see the point in it.
Are there any private S&LT that do online lessons?

Dozer Fri 05-Jun-20 22:42:29

‘ All the community speech and language therapists have been moved to hospitals to help with covid 19 (don't ask, I have no idea why or how they'd help’

SaLTs do a wide range of things, eg work with older people, eg with neurological problems, strokes, some have swallowing/feeding expertise.

Malmontar Fri 05-Jun-20 23:08:07

@dozer I know you're just trying to be helpful and thank you. I'm aware of this but these kids have very little time with SaLTs, even when at the highest band of support. I don't think it's fair to take everything away. I understand professionals are stretched but it's really unfair to take every ounce of support away. Even a monthly catch up with some resources would help.

@Oldtimer2020 that's really encouraging. DD has severe DLD and is very very aware of her difficulties. There is absolutely no way she would be willing to do zoom sessions with a brand new salt, as much as I'd do it in a heartbeat. It takes her weeks to accept a new one and talk to them, our borough has made it a nice habit to change them termly and I know what effect it has on her.

tilder Fri 05-Jun-20 23:20:47

Ds1 is an introvert. He is also 13, year 8. We are encouraging him to contact his friends (small group of 3, very close) but he is very reluctant. His friends are the same. I am in a WhatsApp with the mum's, who are all tearing their hair out.

We had success in the week with a face to face chat with another boy. Helped by ds2 who is very sociable.

He does on line stuff with older family members and I am making an effort to open his door, sit and chat. He seems to appreciate this.

At the beginning of lockdown, I worried most about his brother. He found no social contact very hard. Now I really sorry about ds1. He seems so comfortable as a hermit, but at the send time low and withdrawn.

I worry. He needs more interaction.

Dozer Fri 05-Jun-20 23:21:51

Yes, of course, this situation is v hard on DC with additional needs, and others who need vital services.

converseandjeans Fri 05-Jun-20 23:54:39

Yes DD12 is in year 7 and hasn't made any friends since starting secondary school.
I was hoping as the year went on she might eventually click with some quieter girls.
She isn't interested in contacting anyone. Just plays Animal Crossing.
I think she is now struggling with lockdown. She went into school Wednesday and was much happier.

converseandjeans Fri 05-Jun-20 23:55:34

And yes it really worries me. It's not right for her to be on her own so much.

graghion Sat 06-Jun-20 07:08:56

That's good that your DD was able to go into school converseandjeans. Is that because you're a key worker? I think it'll be a long time before Key Stage 3 are allowed back on mass. They're always low priority academically, but socially these are important years.

OP’s posts: |
converseandjeans Sat 06-Jun-20 08:43:56

graghion yes we're both key workers (teachers) and so it's good that now more students are in mine can go in 2 days a week. But still a bit worried about this virus confused
I think initially DD enjoyed lockdown because I guess if you're introverted it's hard work being at school.
I think there will be a huge impact on our young people. I get the feeling things won't be entirely back to normal by September.

Malbecfan Sat 06-Jun-20 11:57:11

It isn't just the children of key workers who are in school. Vulnerable children and those with additional needs can be accommodated.

I have a y7 tutor group. One girl's family had a horrible incident which caused her to be really down and withdrawn. After many email and phone exchanges with mum, I suggested girl came into school, met me and we formulate a plan to get her back on track with her work. That was really good and she bonded with another vulnerable child from a higher year and a key worker boy from the same tutor group. She is now in every day. She is tackling her backlog of work, her mental health is better and because she walks home with her mate, she is getting some exercise so sleeps better.

In that school we do have more capacity for vulnerable children and several more have been encouraged to come in. Might it be something you could ask about, especially if your DC has additional needs? Just getting out of the house, seeing and interacting with different people and being in a relatively safe but different environment might help.

Malmontar Sat 06-Jun-20 13:05:33

@Malbecfan not sure about OP but our DD has an EHCP so could go in from the beginning but the school has actively discouraged her to come in. They said she was unlikely to be allowed back after a risk assessment.
It seems schools are all taking very different views on this.

graghion Sun 07-Jun-20 09:02:31

My DS would be furious if I outed him as a loner to the school. We've only had one phonecall from a teacher during lockdown and he told her he was Whatsapping his friends, so she was satisfied with that.
For people who find social contact a bit of a minefield, the lockdown is like a big security blanket. I'm fairly introverted too, but at the same age I was a lot more anxious about friendship issues, so I'm trying not to project that onto DS who is more grounded. He just needs opportunities to practice and develop his social skills, and I think that will only happen when everyone goes back to school.
Our school seems very risk averse at the moment. There are only very small numbers of key worker etc kids there, with year 10 starting to go back soon. They're being kept well apart and being told not to walk home together after school or congregate anywhere. It doesn't sound much fun.

OP’s posts: |
wingsandstrings Mon 08-Jun-20 20:05:54

Yes! Just 30 mins ago I was 'strongly encouraging' my Yr 7 DS to WhatsApp a friend and arrange something for this week. He enjoys it when he does meet up but seems to have no particular impetus to meet anyone other than his best friend - and they game online together every day and take a ball to the park every couple of days. It's weird, as in primary he was Mr social and very popular, but I have realised that other people would always make the running - another child would ask the parent to invite my DS over, and then I'd reciprocate. Now the parents aren't involved he is pretty lazy and doesn't take the initiative, so he sees friends much less. After I was encouraging him today he did say, 'y'know I'll ask x friend if he wants to go out, he did WhatsApp me today' . . . and he shows me the WhatsApp and it's like 'hi, sup?' and my DS just replied 'good. sup?' and the other child replied with a thumbs up emoji . . . . .so I think the other boy had been trying to initiative something was but didn't quite know how to suggest something. Anyway, what I'm saying is, it seems to be a very common experience with boys this age to become a bit more socially awkward. Don't worry. The only thing on my mind is how to strike the balance between not making my DS self-conscious about friendships and his social abilities by going on and on at him, while also teaching him how to be a good friend and build a good social life by giving him tips and encouragement (because it is something that most people learn, no one comes out of the womb completely perfect at friendships but it's an area that we don't recognise we can get much better at if we try).

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