I am a mum of three boys, the eldest of which, we feel is gifted, although we have never had him tested. Much of his academic achievement supports this, and his teachers thus far have also alluded to this, if not specifically stated it.
I have read some of the forum posts with interest and can relate to many! I would be thankful for any advice or ideas that other forum readers could offer for two main issues that we are having.
Firstly, our son is nearly 10, and although has had few friends throughout primary school, has for the most part, been happy and settled at school. This year in particular, there have been constant 'put downs' etc which, depending on his state of mind at the time, do tend to get him down. I was interested to read in his school report that anxiety is beginning to affect his willingness to share ideas - "a mixture of anxiety and enthusiasm can get the better of him". I am concerned that the constant 'put downs' are corroding his self confidence.
Any advice on this issue would be greatly appreciated.
Secondly, he stated the other evening that his teacher (from this year) has told him he needs to work on his "social skills". I have been thinking about this comment in particular, especially since our nearly 10 year old had a rather public meltdown just the other evening!!! We had a picnic in the park with another family and things were going fine until I heard him shouting and screaming at the other children. The evening ended rather badly with him being frogmarched to the car screaming and crying hysterically. When I am honest, this type of behaviour is not new and such 'social' issues have occurred before. I generally tend to forget about them, and then something will happen at another social gathering, which reminds me! I can think of many examples throughout his life in which, for example, he has been really looking forward to a gathering, but things tend to go horribly wrong on the day. We have implemented a few strategies to cope with this but I am worried that the outbursts tend to be getting worse instead of better. I would appreciate any advice/guidance, that anyone can offer - maybe a book I can read???
I am hopeful that someone with similar experiences may have some pearls of wisdom to share!
Mmmm, the second part of your post sounds SOOOOOOOO familiar to me!
We too have 3 boys (6,4 1) the eldest is G and his behaviour since a foetus (just kidding but close :) ) has been difficult. I can't count the amount of times we have had social gatherings totally ruined by our eldest. The strategies we have employed have obviously changed as he has matured (some of which worked and some of which were disasters!) and as we haven't got to ten years of age yet, I'm not sure our straegies will be that helpful to you.
I always premept the situation be explaining to the children prior to going what my expectations of their behaviour is (same rules as always, be kind and polite to others, use your manners, play nicely with your friends and when it is time to go, no arguements) and what the consequences of bad behaviour are.
I have also discovered that even as a youngster, he hated to lose face so pulling him aside quietly to discuss his bad behaviour when no one else could hear is most effective (although not always possible while juggling the 2 other boys and everything else that is going on!) I always remnd him of my expectations at this point too.
Relatively recently I read on the forum about the 2 jars1 for good behaviour and 1 for bad behaviour and putting counters into them. I'm using fruit loops (toxic looking breakfast cereal that I wouldn't ever feed him a whole bowl of for fear of the colours and sugars sending hime into next week) and we give him one for everygood thing he does. Bad behaviour results in fruit loops being taken from good behaviour jar into the bad behaviour jar. Whatever is still in the good behaviour jar in the morning is sprinkled on top of his weetbix the next morning (usually not very many!!) I have to say so far this is working extremely well just to re set the bad behaviours that seemed to have crept in and were making life difficult. It seems to make a difference in just re setting the tone of the house.
I'm not sure if this will help you but at least I can seriously sympathise with the issue!!!
I sympathise with you, as our eldest 7yr old is much the same. We just had a melt down yesterday (Xmas Day). My father had organised a water fight, girl cousins against boy cousins. The rules were explained, but inevitably the rules weren't followed to the letter (as my daughter insists they are). This caused a major melt down to say the least!!!! This then reminded her of all the other "bad things" that had happened about Xmas this year, i.e. the xmas tree was in a different place to previous years; we opened our presents in a different room and other minor details that were majors for her.
This morning I had a debrief with her, and it was noted that I usually remind her before such occasions that things don't always go as we map out in our head, but I hadn't done so for Xmas. It does seem that along with Meg's suggestions, I also add in the "things don't always go as we plan" theme along with, what will we do if they don't? She usually comes up with some good strategies and sticks to them.
Not sure if this is the sort of scenario that would upset your son, but hope it helps a little.
Thanks Meg - you have reminded me about the importance of explaining and reiterating expectations, especially to number one son!!! Somehow or other, I stopped doing this and maybe we need to go back to square one and start again!! I guess we hoped he would be getting too old to need all this reminding but his behaviours would indicate not!!! No major melt downs over the past few weeks but we have friends with kids staying with us for New Years .... we shall put some strategies in place over the next few days! Fingers crossed...
Thanks too to Anon2 - it is soooooooo good to hear that we are not the only parents around with such issues!! Again the talking will help a lot, and working out some strategies in case things go wrong and what he might do, how he could react etc. (We can't possibly cover every eventuality but we can try!!). Thanks again, it is heartening to read your stories and realise we are not alone in this!!!
It's nice to hear that others are in a similar situation as me. My son, 7yrs, is very challenging. He has been identified as gifted, but it is his behaviour that I struggle with the most. I swear that he is like having a 2yr old in the house constantly. I never quite know what is going to set him off. I have had many sleepless night, note the time I am here, worrying about him. I get anxious whenever we have to go anywhere with new people who don't "know"him. I feel as though I have failed as a parent and think that people ar judging me when he has a meltdown in public. I find that when he is tired it is worse. However getting him to have any decent amount of sleep is a challenge in itself. The other concern I have is that I find him socially inappropriate. If we visit someone's hoise he will just look around, open cupboards etc. It doesn't matter how many times we tell him what our expectations are and what is appropriate etc it just seems that he just doesn't get it. I am starting to think that there is more going on but I don't know. It's all getting too hard but I know that i can't give up or it will be him that suffers. I often feel as though I'm going crazy an i just want to throw in the towel, I have no idea where to go to get the help that I need as I'm not sure what help it is I need.
Maybe my family is normal after all. I sympathise with you all. Meand3, you'll get through it. Wish I could help. Best help I can think of is "Unconditional Parenting", which I found fantastic because it reminded me to just love my sons for who they are and not who society expects them to be. I've had a much more critical eye for each parenting book since reading this one, as it really show up the myths for what they are. Di, I highly recommend this one to you.
Di, Ten is an interesting age. Our son is ten and a half, and this year has been challenging. Only yesterday I heard that puberty often starts at ten in boys. It isn't recognised as such because the boys don't grow taller then. Apparently the testosterone is the first wave, and the later growth spurt in boys is due to the hormones produced as the testosterone decomposes (is that the right word?). Whereas girls have their growth spurt at the start of their puberty hormones, so if puberty starts at ten for them, it is recognised.
Most interestingly, an effect of the testosterone is that when angry, the typical behaviour at this age is verbal aggression. So this may be why the outbursts seem to be getting worse not better. (And if not, you may have worse to come).
Apparently lots of exercise is very beneficial. In fact, lots of exercise even delays puberty.
I'm trying with my son to just show in every way that I approve of him and his judgment and to overlook the things I think are socially pathetic. I remember my Mum did this for me and I felt so loyal to her for it.
Good luck, I sincerely hope no future teacher makes a similar comment. It's the sort of comment that'll have the opposite effect to that intended, in most children. It would've made me want to stay at home when I was that age, and wallow in self-criticism.
Man I get soooooooooooo angry when I read those types of "need to work on their social skills" comments.
We treat kids who are a bit "different" like dirt on the whole (not those here individually but as a society) and seriously - I get to the point of wanting to go around punching peoples lights out - maybe if they got decked once or twice they might be more mindful of their OWN social behaviour towards those who arent in keeping with their perception of "normal"
Sorry venting - it just makes me soooooooooooo cross how as a society we seem to think its acceptable to ostracise marginalise and victimise those who happen to be vulnerable and then when it takes its tool on them and they start showing logical symptoms of distress we point the finger at THEIR social skills .... its so unjust!
Its a wonder they dont ALL suffer major anxiety!
Schools have a lot to answer for - particularly for teaching the vast majority of people that is perfectly acceptable.
Few kids have the vocabulary to be able to articulate complex emotional states of being and on top of that often when they do, getting it "off their chests" in a "rational discussion" does not actually enable them to release the emotional energy that builds up ..... but behaviour does.
The MORE we can surround these kids with people who truly BELIEVE in them and accept them for who and how they really are, the less emotional load they will be burdened with.
Oh just to be clear - Im not Grrrrr'ing at you, but rather "social conventions" that uphold such attitudes.
At the end of term I decided to re-book ds8 into the shrink for re-assessment and to see if she could address some of the 'social issues' we were dealing with. Nothing major, no significant melt-down's - school even commented that he was 'maturing' well, but he's been in trouble twice for using the F word and still struggles to pick up social cues from the other kids. Saying that, he is being very subtely bullied by them so I kinda give him credance for being able to hold his own with them, they are mostly are year plus older than him and seem to enjoy keeping him in his place with lots of put downs.
Anyway - school holidays, 3 weeks in and now we have the perfect little angel on our hands! No other kids to compete, socialise etc with, no learning, very few social engagements compared to previous years, lots of sleep and suddenly his manners have returned (but even better), no arguments - does exactly what I ask when I ask it. Is helpful and proactive, also giving out lots of cuddles.
I have let him do just exactly what he wants all day with the exception of getting out for some exercise at least once and the period of complete de-stress seems to be really helping. (I did make a conscious decision to make this holiday completely stress free for him as I was worried about him at the end of term).
We went out to dinner last night and it was bliss, he ate without fuss used all his manners and when he'd finished took himself off to the couches and read his book while we finished our meal. We are still reeling :)
Sometimes I think that the pressure of trying to conform to the social norm is just too much for these kids because at the end of the day they aren't the norm and it spills over into all sorts of frustrations for them.
I have high hopes for this school year but if I see his behaviour revert after what we've just experienced in the last few weeks I may seriously consider home-schooling him.