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Helping my child to say hello.(7 Posts)
My child is in his first year of school and is currently waiting for a number of assessments. He has a speech delay amongst other things and has really struggled during lockdown in regards to not having other children to play with or interact with.
I’ve noticed that since he started back at school in March, he’s really struggled with anyone saying hello or good morning to him during the school run. He hides or just clings to me. Children are now starting to ignore him as he gives no response (where before he’d run along with them and say hello).
Do I just wait for him to feel ready to say hello or maybe play some games that might support him? It feels like such a small issue (compared to many that we’ve dealt with in the past) but I wondered if anyone had similar experiences.
Also waiting to hear whether he has got his ECHP as it was rejected the first time due to lack of evidence.
My daughter struggled with this a lot in Reception (pre-Covid - she's now in Y2). She is now OK with familiar people if she has seen them recently. Lockdown has definitely made things harder (e.g. with grandparents who she hasn't been able to see in person in ages, she's now unwilling to participate in Zooms, which she would have done earlier on - but I think sadly they're just too unfamiliar now ... hopefully we can fix that soon!)
I didn't (and don't) put any pressure on her to say hello to adults etc. Just modelled it for her. I do now give her praise if she manages to talk to an unfamiliar adult or child - but I keep it very gentle/limited because praise can feel like pressure too. I might just say something like "that was a nice conversation". For DD any pressure is counterproductive: it just makes things more anxious and makes her less able to do anything due to overwhelm of the feelings of pressure/anxiety.
Re: other children, one thing that DD's school did in Reception that was really helpful was that they had a lady come into school once a week with DD (I think she was in fairly regularly with other children too for different issues) and just encouraged her to interact more with the other children at lunch or break. They called it "scaffolding". So e.g. if DD was playing next to (but not with) other children she'd just say "oh look, Jonny is building a tower too" or "I wonder if that piece next to Amy would be good for your tower" or "oh Sam is pouring, I wonder what it would be like if you both poured water at the same time?" or whatever. Very gentle, no pressure. It did seem to help DD to just notice what other children were doing and have the confidence to get involved more.
The lady didn't have any special SN training but she was a nanny who had worked with SN children before, and I think she just "got" how to be gentle but also give a little encouraging push.
I think also just doing more interactive play with you is always good. I remember at about that age DD and I would play being Winnie the Witch and pretending to turn things into other things. She loved Winnie the Witch at that age, and was slightly obsessed with sticks (which we'd use as wands among other things) so it was engaging for her, and helped practice turn taking. We always found with everything we could never leap straight to doing it with other children. Everything went that DD got comfortable doing something with us first, then with other trusted adults (like her TA or this lady who came in to school), and only some time after that with other children (and even then generally in small groups where she'd had plenty of time to settle in).
It sounds like your DS was doing these things before to some extent so I'm sure he hasn't lost the ability in general. There's probably just too much else going on for him to be able to manage it at the moment. If he's only recently back to school he probably just needs more time to get comfortable by himself and with other adults first, before he'll feel "at home" enough to risk interacting with the other children - so hopefully he'll get back to doing them quite naturally as he settles in and his anxiety subsides a bit. But maybe a bit of extra TA time or supported play could help along the way. Or given it's nearly the holidays, maybe some play dates over the Easter holidays so he can practice a bit in smaller groups, and not be starting from square 1 again after the holidays - or even just supporting him to engage more with other children when you visit the playground? And then school might be able to do a little bit of scaffolding with him during play when he gets back?
Is it even possible that he is still playing with them at break/lunch, but just can't manage it in the morning when everything is so busy and he's got the transition from you to school to deal with too?
The good thing is children at that age are very flexible and don't hold a grudge - so even if they think he's not interested in them now, if he starts to be interested and play with them again in a couple of months I'm sure they'll let him in and he'll be able to get back to where he was.
Thank you so much for your lovely response. Xx Some great tips too. His school runs a little social skills intervention group that helps him and I’m told in his daily communication book that he’s starting to play more with other children now. His speech has always been a barrier for him and the fact that he is very sensory seeking in regards to movement etc, hasn’t helped matters. He has a weighted blanket at school and is taken for movement breaks etc.
However, a little while back a child from his class came up to me and announced that my child was never good! I spoke to the school etc but it’s played on my mind quite a bit. 😢
I don't know - that sounds like the kind of thing DD might say about one of the "naughty" boys in her class... but then one of them turned out to like bugs so now having previously said he was a bully she wants him to come over for a play date so she can show him her woodlice! So hopefully it's just one of those "things kids say" that blows over.
Fingers crossed he'll settle in and find things easier now we're unlocking a bit!
My DS(6) is still not great at acknowledging when his classmates say hello to him - instead he stares owlishly at his shoes, or smiles vaguely at a space 10 feet behind them. He may also murmur something nobody can possibly hear, then get hurt when nobody answers.
What I am doing is explicitly spelling out every step of saying hello. "What do we do when we see a friend? Let's make a list. How do we know it isn't a stranger? Yes, by looking at their face. How do we know they have seen us? Yes, by looking at their eyes, and listening if they are speaking to us. And how do we let them know we have seen them? Yes, we say "Hello X", and we say it loud enough for them to hear. And how do we check that they have heard us? By looking at their face when we say it." Etc etc. I feel like an idiot, but he doesn't work this stuff out for himself.
I think it's really common for kids not to want to say hello, not just in reception but older kids too. I don't think it will harm your child as other kids don't care too much either about social niceties. I would maybe let her be, or encourage her to give a little wave to important people like her teacher if she's too shy to speak?