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9 yo not 'fitting in'
Any advice?

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#1 Mummy Again2

Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:36 AM

Hi,My 9 year old is really struggling socially with his age group at school.  He moved schools almost 2 years ago  ( we moved countries) and has just never settled with a good group of friends, he's generally a smart, social kid so I never expected him to have trouble making friends, but the last month or two of school last year he was really getting down about it and he's not looking forward to starting back at school this year, so I want to sit with him and work out a plan for how to approach this year differently, but really I'm not sure what he/we should do.
One thing is that in his year there is a group of about 10 boys ( there's about 20 boys total in his year), there are all smart, sporty and popular and he wants really badly to be part of this group, but they just haven't accepted him, we've invited them all for playdates and they seemed to have gone well, but he has never been invited back to theirs in return and they never want him to play with them in school, so in my mind he should forget about them and find some other friends.  The other thing with the popular kids is that their parents also all socialise together, like every friday and Saturday night, and like a lot of alcohol, they are all very close and go away for weekends together and things, so I guess it's a tough group to crack.
So that was the plan all of last year that we would work on friendships with other kids instead, we have been seeing them socially, also socialising with the parents and they all seem to play together well, but then in school they all have their groups and he never seems to be included in them.  There is one boy who is a sweet boy, not really popular or socially aware, and my son has been hanging out with him quite a bit, I'm encouraging that friendship and they've had some playdates over the holidays.  But DS is just so aware, and tells me things like 'My only friend is XX and he will be friend with anyone, so while I think that it's good to have a reliable friend he can count on, it seems that the friendship is not helping his self esteem at all.  There has been some bullying as well, but to me seems that it's the friendship situation which is getting to him. And the bullying is a symptom rather than the cause of the issues (he gets bullied by some of the other kids, not he's bullying).
We discussed it with his teacher last year and I was quite annoyed that she seemed unable to offer any advise, she couldn't tell us why he didn't have friends or suggest any kids who would make good friends for him.  I feel that she's the one who sees him interacting with his peers in the school environment, so she should be able to help identify the issue.  She did indicate that he is more socailly aware than most kids his age and this may mean that he's more sensitive to any issues.
I feel that he is a bit bossy with his peers and will not accept others telling him what to do, so that's one thing that I'm trying to get him to work on.  It's interesting that he often plays at lunch with older kids (2 years older) also with his younger brother and his friends (who are two years younger) and seems to get on very well with both, but I don't really encourage those friendships as I think it's most important to get along with his classmates.
I'm not sure that anyone will have any real advise, probably the answer is 'it's just part of being a kid' but it's so hard having him come home in tears because he feels so left out and alone, and as his Mum you want to fix every problem for him,
If anyone has any ideas or tips would be great,

#2 envs

Posted 01 February 2013 - 12:54 AM

Does he do any out of school activities? If he has friend's out fo school, he won't be so downtrodden about not having so many school friend's....also, some of the school kids he may want to be friends with may also do those activities and that will be another avenue for him to connect with them.

I remember from school days, that a lot of the kids that hung around together, actually didn't socialize out of hours, and that a lot of the kids were better friends outside of school, and only spoke to each other briefly at school. It was odd, but that was the dynamics.

It must be so hard. My ds is much younger, so not yet in your boat, but I can sympathize...he seems very popular, all the parents know him, and kids keep asking him to be invited, but he never gets invited by the parents....and he keeps asking why and getting down about it. We just tell him they might be busy, and occupy him with our own fun activities

ETA: sorry about autocorrect

Edited by envs, 01 February 2013 - 12:56 AM.

#3 Mummy Again2

Posted 01 February 2013 - 01:09 AM

He has been doing 'after school care' which has some kids from his year, and funny that some kids who play well with him there will not play with him at school lunch.  Just as often though he will be playing with his brother.  
He does some sports, tennis, teeball and taekwondo, but not really any kids from his year doing any of those, the 'popular' kids all do football and cricket but he's not been interestd in doing either of those.  I was thinking of boy scouts, but they have a long wait list here, like a year, so it wouldn't change anything in the short term. We might be able to fe him into a group further away but then there wouldn't be anyone from his class at all.Mb

#4 mumto3princesses

Posted 01 February 2013 - 06:43 AM

That's a huge group of kids! Our school wouldn't let a group like that exclude anyone.

I would make an appointment to speak to the teacher. Is he in a class this year with some of the other kids? Sometimes that can help especially if they get grouped together for anything during class or sit near each other. When DD#1 was younger her teacher helped by sitting her near a couple of girls in her class and she gave me some names of girls she thought DD#1 night get along well with.

I was going to suggest after school activities as that usually helps with self esteme even if there are no friends from school there. It helped my DD#1 when she was younger.

We don't do playdates after school as we are too busy between after school activities for all 3  and homework.

#5 Coffeegirl

Posted 01 February 2013 - 07:09 AM

A couple things have stood out here,

1). You say he can be a bit bossy.  This can be an issue to break into a long term group.  The group dynamics are already there, if your DS is trying to walk in and change things suddenly, then the other kids will back away from him.  He'd be better to sit back and watch how the group works and learn to add his opinion once he has 'broken in'
2) afterschool activities can be good to meet kids who aren't necessarily in his school.  If he has good friends out of school that he can relate with, then he will be more confident during school.  
3) get him to work more on the friends that he has at ASC. Get them over for playdates.  When the other parent picks the child up, mention how well they get along.  If you feel comfortable enough with the other mum, maybe mention that your DS is struggling with forming friendships and you would appreciate it if she could reciprocate the play date (as long as the other child wants your DS to come over!)

The above are just my observations from my 12 yo DD and 9yo DS.    DS did have a year of so where he flitted between friends.  He now has 2-3 close friends and a wider group that splits and fractures and then joins again.   It's a fluid thing.   Boys don't seem to create the deeper friendships that girls do as early.   DD has 2 good friends and a wide group of other girls that has been pretty stable since Kindy, but DS' friendships are changing all the time.  It seems to be based more on who is in his actual class each year.

Edited by Coffeegirl, 01 February 2013 - 07:10 AM.

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