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My 7-year-old is different and is being treated like an outcast by his peers

February 7, 2012 | By | 1 Reply Continue Reading

Adults
can help children learn the social skills they need to make friends and get
along with others.

 

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

My 7-year-old son has recently started
coming home saying that he isn’t wanted at school. He asks me: Why is it that
he is not accepted amongst his peers? Is there something wrong with him?

 

He is the only second grade and has
been identified as gifted and talented. He has already received his black belt
in martial arts. I consider him to be funny in a clumsy way. Anybody who meets
my son is impressed with his maturity.

 

He is somewhat OCD like myself, I can
see him having to correct his peers or even telling on them when they are doing
something wrong. At this point I have instructed him to mind his own business
but it is too late. He has already built a reputation with them.

 

His peers don’t allow him to
participate in anything they are doing. They now are starting to call him names. It breaks my heart to see him feel like an
outcast at this age. The last thing I want to happen is for him to get
frustrated and end up hurting someone when they are excluding him.

Signed, Rosa

 

ANSWER

Hi Rosa,

It sounds like you son is different
than his peers. You say he is exceptionally bright, mature beyond his years,
and a bit awkward. When children are different, it’s easy to be excluded from a
group.

 

At seven years old, your son may not
yet have the social skills to fit in and may require help from the adults
around him. I have two suggestions:

 

1) When your son has children come to
your home, use the time to observe the way he interacts with other children and
how they respond to him. This can be helpful in teaching him the skills he
needs to fit in with others. For example, if he is bossy, you can remind him
that it makes other kids feel uncomfortable.

 

2) At school, it would be worthwhile to
speak with his classroom teacher. Tell her your concerns so she can monitor his
and other children’s behavior on the playground and intervene when necessary.

 

You might also want to question what
kinds of accommodations the school is making to assure that his work is
challenging and interesting to him. If you think that he has some
obsessive-compulsive traits, you may want to speak to the school psychologist
or guidance counselor to see whether this is interfering with his social skills
or academic achievement.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene 

 

Some prior posts about children
and friendship
on The Friendship Blog:

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Comments (1)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Rosa,

    I’m really sorry to hear that your son is having such a hard time. I can definitely relate – I was awkward at that age, and whilst academically and intellectually ahead of my peers, my social skills definitely lagged. In fact, it wasn’t until age 13 or so that I – with the help from a straightforward. honest friend who accepted my quirks – was able to progress in that area. She gave me specific feedback about behaviours that were alienating others, and how those behaviours were being perceived. It hurt, but the way she told me preserved my dignity, and I am grateful for that to this day.

    After our conversation, I still had the occasional slip, but by then was confident enough to laugh at myself and apologise or adjust my behaviour, or both, if the situation warranted it. It didn’t happen overnight, but by the end of that school year, I could see a drastic difference in the way I was being treated by my peers from just months before.

    I was an only child, being raised my a grandparent, and a bit of a loner – that was great for my intellect and imagination, but didn’t help my social skills. Aside from my kind friend mentioned above, being put into more situations aside from school, where I was around youths my age helped me out. – I could see socially acceptable behaviour modelled. You mention that your son has a black belt – does he still take karate? Are there other activities – sports, afterschool programmes, etc. – that he could get involved in?

    I think it’s great that you’re taking such an interest in your child’s social development. I was only encouraged with my academic and musical development, and whilst that was good, social help whilst still in primary school could have helped make my life easier.

    I know that it would probably be of little comfort to your son now, but believe me – some of the most awkward people I grew up with grew into some very respected, successful, interesting, well-adjusted adults. My husband and I were both as children awkward outcasts to some extent… well, not anymore! We’ve got a wide social circle, with some really wonderful people, who include us, and want to be included BY us. 🙂

    … but we had to get here on our own, with no support in developing the social skills we needed (in fact, often being modelled incredibly damaging social behaviour). So, once again, it’s really wonderful that you’re wanting to support your son. I hope that applying some of Irene’s suggestions above, or whatever other efforts you think are necessary, will improve interactions between your son and his peers.

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