Today, we share with you a post provided by a Kid’s Creek parent; we hope that the suggestions she provides will be helpful to other parents. Out of respect for the child’s privacy we are withholding the author’s name.
I still remember the first time it happened.
It was in the second semester of first grade. Her writing skills were advanced, so creative writing time became an early, unexpected outlet. I was looking through her Friday folder and found her writing for the week on that thin colored-lined paper. “I do not like kids. They call me weird and are not nice. It make me sad.” The words took my breath away and made my heart ache…
My first instinct was to find out who dared to call my child weird and be so unkind and to figure out how to “fix” this problem. However, I had already come to the sad realization that my kid was “weird” in relation to other typical kids her age – and she was just a seven-year-old! Not an adolescent, who are all weird 🙂
Big sigh. What could I do?
We started with the best intentions – repeating mantras to her that she “is special and weird can be good because it means you are unique.” That helped for a little while, but a few years went by, the teasing increased, and my mommy heartache continued because there were no birthday party invitations or play date invites for my child. Don’t the other moms encourage their kids to include everyone?! Can’t someone please just be her friend and be kind?
What is a mom (or dad) to do when you have a child who is clearly at risk for teasing and bullying? What actions can you take when your child has no friends across the span of several years? From one parent’s heart to another, here are some suggestions:
- Be involved. Volunteer in your child’s classroom and document the social interactions that you observe from the perspective of your child. Is he frequently in other kids’ personal space? Does he ask constant questions? Is he having difficulty working independently? Does he cooperate or is he insistent on his own path? Every note and observation helps to identify areas that can be supported and addressed in a team meeting at school. It also serves as a way to know the areas your child needs help in learning correct social interaction – some kids need to be taught rule by rule, situation by situation.
- Organize a play date with one or a few friends and plan to play along or be in very close proximity. For some children, direct instruction during play is beneficial. I found that there were multiple opportunities for me to teach my daughter what to say, and not to say, and how to be aware of other friend’s feelings during interactions IF I was close by to be involved. Plan these often, setting a goal for once a month.
- Seek professional input and advice. If social interactions are consistently a struggle and cause of stress for your child, it needs to be monitored. We had full psychological evaluations for our daughter at the age of 8, 14 and 17. Due to the wonders and plasticity of the brain, early evaluations may not always indicate a clear answer and path for your child’s future. However, the information you learn is always helpful at the time and psychologists are great at providing specific and directed recommendations for social, parenting, and academic areas.
No matter what the difficulty might be, always let your child know that you are their biggest ally and biggest fan. You are there for them and will always be a safe place for their thoughts and feelings.
Kid’s Creek offers opportunities for social skills groups throughout the year, as well as opportunities for individual social skills training with our speech therapists. Contact our office to learn more.