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Children who can't make friends (lower ks2)

(29 Posts)
goingmadinthecountry Mon 23-Jan-17 19:22:17

Can anyone point me towards any research/writing on how to help children who find socialising difficult but really want to make friends? Interventions? PhD papers? Don't want to give details on here obviously but I really want to do something to make a lovely but socially inexperienced and awkward little person happier in class/playground. Started much later than others but not new to school now. Other new children have fitted straight in because they have more experience at how to socialise. Am open to any ideas, however off the wall they sound.

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
Friendinneed2016 Mon 23-Jan-17 19:23:58

I love to hear what others have to say as this sounds like my little girl.

FATEdestiny Mon 23-Jan-17 19:27:11

Just my personal experience, but I find at this age how social the child is is directly correlated to how social the mother/parents are with the parents of classmates.

Mostly a child's social circle comes from mums going "shall we meet up at the park" or "why don't you bring child over to play at mine and will have a cuppa and chat". Or even just mums arranging reciprocal play dates at each other's houses.

I don't think much of a child's social life stems from their own preference until older ks2.

languagelearner Mon 23-Jan-17 19:31:12

I think Marshall Rosenberg has done some things that you might find useful, I remember this from a seminar for school and pre-school teachers I once participated in (a bit odd, for me, to be there, but I was) .

You could also try to arrange play dates, with just one other child. Also, plan for success, so every step will be a positive experience for your little friend. If not, if you're the child, you just give up at some point, and stop trying. (At least in my personal experience.)

languagelearner Mon 23-Jan-17 19:34:12

Is your little friend born at the end of the year, maybe? It took me ages to realise why being born in December puts you in a position of being much easier to bully, simply because you're smaller and less experienced. On the other hand, if you're born in January, February, or March, you might have a brilliant career later on in sports. No such chance for people born in December, there's simply no way to compete with someone nearly a full year older. But when I was little, I had no idea, I just thought I was bad, someone who simply was not any good.

goingmadinthecountry Mon 23-Jan-17 21:38:50

Mid year child, parents don't socialise with others at school so no play dates etc. Doesn't get invited to parties.

Will look at Marshall Rosenburg, thanks.

It breaks my heart - I would just love to break down a few barriers.

OP’s posts: |
languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 04:35:08

Just as well, if you're on the outer edges of the social network, as a child, getting invited to parties is a pain and obviously not as fun as it could be if you were close friends with the other children.

Try to make an effort to find at least one friend for the child, it doesn't have to be school-related. One friend makes a huge difference (or so I've read). It's a big difference having zero friends as opposed to having 1 friend, but the difference between 1 friend and, say, 5 friends is less.

Googling a bit at random but an activity could be something like this:

Or it could be something like this:

I was a girl scout myself, back in the day. I don't know to what extent it helped but at least I learned some useful stuff.

languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 04:40:28

^^ I actually have a strong almost traumatic memory from 41 years ago, being forced to such a party by my parents. But it was a hoax, a setup by some of the guys in my class. I didn't want to go but my parents were really relentless, drove me to the house and angrily forced me out of the car, to walk over to the detached house of the supposed host. But it was just a hoax, I discovered that upon arrival. The little boys emerged from the sidelines, screeching of joy. Ho-ho-ho, ha-ha-ha, hi-hi-hi!! I was mortified. It was just absolutely dreadful. I hated all school parties ever after.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 25-Jan-17 16:51:34

How horrible, language. I hope those horrible boys have felt sorry at some point in their lives.

It's just a child in my class so I really can't do anything outside school. Beavers or judo isn't likely sadly. Ah well. Baby steps and keep at it I guess.

OP’s posts: |
languagelearner Wed 25-Jan-17 20:27:57

No, it was just a one-time funny prank, they were so small, just around 11 years old or thereabouts...

Reading books is also good. Just knowing you're there and that you care too.

Even a furry animal key chain dog might help, like this one (aren't they cute?)

Prettybaffled Wed 25-Jan-17 20:35:35

There are social skills resources you could get and then think about how to adapt fit in class activities. I know wilmsow press do some iirc. You could effectively run social skills training for them without them being any the wiser.

You could set up a scenario where you shine a positive light on them (in a younger age group a child was given particular responsibility and praised publicly for a skill). If they can be given something to do that other kids can the do with them which may help them make friends then all the better.

Set up structured stuff for at least some break times to try to build bonds with them and other kids.

Buddying up with older/younger kids eg year 6 buddy for some subjects for whole class might help child socially. Another chance to practice social skills. Or getting them to help with reading in Year R once a week may build self esteem?

Not a teacher but have a bit of experience with social skills difficulties.

Prettybaffled Wed 25-Jan-17 20:37:50

A few more ideas:
Start a lunchtime club in something they are good at and encourage them to go

Do lots of talking in phse time about friendships and including everyone

Corialanusburt Wed 25-Jan-17 20:46:02

It's tough if the school don't address it. They have to intervene because Your child won't be able to do it on their own. DD's school has been hopeless. it would have helped if they had:
Set up a buddy system
Had more playground equipment so DD had something to do instead of walking around alone
Considered classroom seating
Set up collaborative activities in the classroom
offered mentoring

For DD, extra curricular activities are all good, she does karate, ballet, Brownies etc but this doesn't magically make them popular. they need regular support and scaffolding from school to boost their self esteem and their profile in the other children's' eyes.

Myusernamerocks Wed 25-Jan-17 20:46:43

I would be looking at encouraging turn taking games/board games/playground games, perhaps initially led by an adult to model social skills. Try to construct opportunities for the child to interact with their peers, adult led at first so it will succeed. If you have another child in your class who you think might be a good friend for the child, maybe buddy them up with a special job they need to do together?

There's a book called 101 ways to teach social skills by Shapiro 2004 (pdf can be accessed straight from google) that I used a couple of times when I was teaching. Has some really nice whole class/small group activties.

SearchingforSleep Wed 25-Jan-17 20:47:58

Nothing useful to suggest, OP but can I just say what a kind, thoughtful teacher you sound. Your class is so lucky to have you! 💐
I really hope things improve for your child soon.

phoe6e Wed 25-Jan-17 20:49:42

Just my personal experience, but I find at this age how social the child is is directly correlated to how social the mother/parents are with the parents of classmates


Buddy bench in the playground? Giving them a role like librarian?

Silverthorn Wed 25-Jan-17 21:05:16

Surely you just need to set up some group or paired activities to mix up the social groups a little bit. Or switch the seating plan around. Perhaps seat the shy child next to a chattier one?
Specific things I can think of would be some sort of team building activity. Paired up. Build a bridge out of matchsticks, etc.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 25-Jan-17 21:19:16

Thanks, myusername, will look for that. We do lots of games, sharing, taking turns already - making stuff together, lego therapy, positive play...

I do think what your parents are like makes a difference, though my 4 are all incredibly different socially.

Thank you searching, but I think that all teachers want their children to be OK. I think of it as a parent - if I was trusting someone to look after my children all day, I'd need to know that my children were happy, engaged, listened to etc. I work in a lovely school.
pho6e I'm not a big fan of the buddy bench, known in many schools as the loser got no friends bench. We train older children as playground friends and they do a great job at play time but having a child you literally have to bribe the nice kid to work with is so sad. It's the child that is lacking the skills. Pointers on helping catch up on those skills would be invaluable. I's hard to learn when you don't yt have those social skills.

OP’s posts: |
Prettybaffled Wed 25-Jan-17 22:23:57

Lego therapy itself could be great for this?

MyGastIsFlabbered Wed 25-Jan-17 22:33:16

I think Fate has it spot on. I split up with my husband mid-reception year I've been a social leper at school. My ex ILs live locally (they live opposite one of DSs classmates) and will badmouth me at every opportunity. DS1 is now in year 2 and never gets invited on play dates or to parties. It breaks my heart. I'm actually looking to move away and give us all a fresh start.
DS1 does have a few problems relating to his peers and I don't know if it's caused some of his isolation or if they've arisen because of it.

Prettybaffled Wed 25-Jan-17 22:41:36

Honestly it isn't all parents. I know very sociable dc without sociable parents and vice Versa

GColdtimer Wed 25-Jan-17 23:14:12

Thank you for trying. Does the child have any special needs. My dd struggled and has been diagnosed with dyspraxia which can affect social skills, especially In groups. And as a parent I tried incredibly hard with her potential friends - they came for a play got on brilliantly then ignored her at school. Awful.)

Is there another child who is also a bit of a loner? Could you try and buddy them up? Start a club in something she is good at? Buddy her up with younger children for reading or something to build her confidence? Is there a smalll group you could talk to and ask them to make sure she is included at lunch and in games. Encourage the children to look out for others on their own.

Rambling as tired but thank you for caring. Dd is now in year 6 and things are much better but years 3-5 were terrible. Dd2 is totally different and the most popular girl in the class.

OneInEight Thu 26-Jan-17 05:54:35

Speaking as a parent.

ds2 only made friends when he sat next to them in the classroom. Playground was too overwhelming. So think carefully about the seating plan. For this child at this time it might be better she sits with children to promote social interaction rather than necessarily being on the right academic table.

In group work can she work as a pair rather than in a group. A child needs to be able to interact successfully on a 1:1 basis before they have a hope in a group.

Lunchtime clubs can help especially if the activity is something she is good at or enjoys. Responsibilities help. Can you give her tasks to promote social interaction e.g. giving out worksheets etc.

Avoid having the other children picking teams etc. Nothing dents your social confidence like always being picked last by your peers.

Role play how to act in certain scenario's like asking someone to play with you. It sounds daft but children with poor social skills genuinely find it difficult to do this despite any amount of academic brightness.

Can she read expressions and body language. To a certain extent you can practice this with cartoons but the skills are not always transferable. ds1 for example knew on an academic level what facial expressions meant but give him a photograph and he just couldn't see it. You can make it into a game or use a short video etc.

Consider asking the parents whether you can refer her to SALT for a complex communication assessment. They would be able to suggest further strategies and pick up if there are any underlying issues such as Asperger's.

DandelionAndBedrock Thu 26-Jan-17 06:45:07

I started a chatty club for ks1 children a few years ago - it was designed for the children who didn't want to speak, rather than didn't have friends but maybe you could adapt something? After their lunch they came to my room, chose cushions from the reading corner and could crash out on the carpet. We watched an episode of something short on cbbc iPlayer (you could watch half an episode) and then discussed it. Would that help? It gives the conversation a loose focus, but you can still let the children go off on tangents. In my experience, most children are really excited to be allowed in to 'help' a teacher over break, especially if the think they get to watch TV.

CheckpointCharlie2 Sun 29-Jan-17 17:44:50

Look up Circle of Friends, aimed at children with autism but could help?

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