So sad for my 11 year old son - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 03-12-2010, 06:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He has always been a pretty quiet kid at school, but by 3rd grade, was feeling happy. He had some boys at school that he was friendly with, although no one that he really hung out with too much after school, but he seemed content with that.

He started 6th grade this year and has really struggled. He is one of the youngest in his grade, and is very small and short & still looks like a little kid. From what he tells me, all the guys seems to be into girls, cell phones, video games, and talking about sex. He is not into any of that. He is in the advanced academic classes, and I guess things aren't too bad there--but no one wants to be his partner for anything, he is always the odd man out. Kids don’t pick on him in those classes, at least. In the other classes (non-academic), and on the bus, kids really pick on him/call him gay. He reads or does homework at lunch and on the bus (where they have assigned seats).

I did let him get a Facebook account (even though he is underage), because a lot of kids in school have it & I thought it would be a way he could start to connect with kids in a more comfortable way. It actually has worked ok, and he does have a few friends on there, but nothing earth-changing. At least it makes him feel a little “normal”. He also started emailing back and forth with my wonderful brother, who had some similar experiences at that age (and actually IS gay)--not sure that they even talk about school or the problems he's having, but it is still nice!

But still, he comes home almost every day and I can tell how bad he feels. My heart just breaks for him, and I don't know what to do. I am so grateful that he can talk to me about it, but I don’t know how to help. I talked to his 2 academic teachers & they were surprised. They thought he was a “loner” type who preferred to work alone & not have a partner. I set them straight about that & they said they would definitely do what they could to help him. I have suggested he see the school counselor (or a private-practice counselor) to see if they could help him feel more self-confident. He is resistant to joining any kind of groups that I have suggested (where kids would be more like-minded).

What should I be doing?
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#2 of 27 Old 03-12-2010, 07:26 PM
 
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What is his reason for resisting the other groups? Is he afraid that the same thing will happen that happens at school? He might be more open to it if he gets to pick which group.

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#3 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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Are there any after school groups/clubs he would like? 11 is hard...the social piece is more consuming than I ever thought. Personally, I think his teachers need to be more observant and help guide him, or at least identify his risk in terms of being alone or bullied. I agree, the school counselor may be able to help.
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#4 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 12:38 AM
 
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How are his social skills? Some kids pick up on social skills naturally, and some kids need to be taught.

I would consider telling him that he *must* try one outside activity (of his choice) for a set period of time.

I would also find ways to help him become more independant. Doing things for children that they could do for themselves lowers their self-esteem. Teach him to cook a few dishes he likes, do his own laundry, etc. Help him find a hobby.

I'd also give all the teachers he has a heads-up about the bullying. It shouldn't be allowed to continue.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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I was going to ask about his social skills too. School can be brutal for kids who don't come by those naturally but maybe a peer counselor could help with that. My dd resists activities too but I think she fears rejection or that it will be hideously boring and she'll have to go anyway...and she's not bullied. I might insist on one outside activity but I would let him try a couple to find a good fit.
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#6 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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I was the youngest, and the smallest until fifth grade (I repeated fifth grade)

I never had an easy time making friends in my grade, but when I repeated fifth grade, I made friends. In fact, I probably was immature enough to play with kids two grades below me. I just wasn't at the same place as the kids that were all a year older.

I am not suggesting holding him back... but, perhaps if you found some kind of group activity where the kids are academically advanced, but are a little younger than he is, or his age, but a grade behind him.

It's been eight years, but my daughter's friend was like this. But, a "geek". He liked science, and computers, and math... the other kids weren't into any of that, and were a little mean to him. Or they completely ignored him. So, he signed his geeky little self up for a Pokemon card club that was held at a craft store every week. He was in heaven with these kids! He looked forward to seeing them each week. He had a birthday party and they all came. It was amazing. He's in the marching band in high school, in all honors classes, and is very happy. He told me recently "I just had to get through grade school alive, then I found my niche here"
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#7 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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It's been eight years, but my daughter's friend was like this. But, a "geek". He liked science, and computers, and math... the other kids weren't into any of that, and were a little mean to him. Or they completely ignored him. So, he signed his geeky little self up for a Pokemon card club that was held at a craft store every week. He was in heaven with these kids!
according to my 11 year old that would transform him from "geek" to "nerd." She says:

nerds -- kids who are at school to learn. They behave, do their homework and join accademic clubs. Behavoirs that get kids labeled "nerd" is all behavoirs that parents want from their kids. They have friends -- other nerds, who, ironically, are exactly the kids their parents would want them to have for friends.

geeks -- more interested in things that people. The kids who will grow up to be engineers or programmers and therefore have nice cars. They don't have many friends, and they really don't care. Fail to see the point of academic clubs or joinging much of anything. Parents worry about them, but they are happy the way they are.

dorks -- dorks are social misfits, but they keep trying anyway. They aren't super smart like nerds or geeks. They really would like to fit in but can't figure out how. They are the most likely to be bullied.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 07:21 PM
 
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#9 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 08:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
according to my 11 year old that would transform him from "geek" to "nerd." She says:

.

That's funny. My daughter and I had almost that same conversation ten minutes ago. She explained that being a geek is OK if you are geeky about cool things... but, if you are a geek who loves Harry Potter, you are a nerd, and that's not as cool as a Geek.

I even got the impatient sigh from her.
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#10 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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but, if you are a geek who loves Harry Potter, you are a nerd, and that's not as cool as a Geek.
my DD feels that nerds have friends, and geeks don't.

she said that she is "nerdish" but not a total nerd. Her reasoning is that she is on the chess club and shhhes people if they try to talk to her during class, but she dresses well and is a cheerleader.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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........my head is spinning here!
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#12 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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It's so hard because, really, we mamas can't fix this. The best you can do, IMO, is to be a sounding board, toss out suggestions when he seems open to hearing them and watch for anything that seems like s sign of serious trouble/depression. FWIW, 11 was rough for my son (now 12). He's a gentle soul and on the smaller side as well. We homeschool, though, so he has different challenges than he would in school. My husband said he remembered 11-13 being the worst bit of time for him. By 13, his confidence started to rebuild and he found his niche (band and track) and built a group of similarly misfit (ie, not sports-oriented) guy friends, and as a group they sort of befriended a group of band-geek girls.

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#13 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 10:52 PM
 
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my DD feels that nerds have friends, and geeks don't.

she said that she is "nerdish" but not a total nerd. Her reasoning is that she is on the chess club and shhhes people if they try to talk to her during class, but she dresses well and is a cheerleader.
Yeah.. but my daughters are 17 and 23. So, it may have changed over the years.
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#14 of 27 Old 03-13-2010, 11:50 PM
 
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It's so hard because, really, we mamas can't fix this.
I disagree. I think parents can do a lot to help kids learn social skills, help kid find activities they enjoy, and help kids become confident by learning to do real things.

We can't really *fix* it, but we can give kids the tools they need to fix it for themselves.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#15 of 27 Old 03-14-2010, 01:06 AM
 
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I am the parent of 2 nerdlings and one jock plopped in the middle. My 11 yo son sounds very similar to yours. We are blessed in that he goes to a very small (112 in K-6) EL school where the quirky is celebrated. He met his BF in K at another school and they are two peas in a pod, he just did well in a standard school setting where my ds did not.
I think where the issue lies is the bullies telling him he that there is something wrong with him. Where in fact he sounds like a great kiddo.
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#16 of 27 Old 03-14-2010, 11:12 AM
 
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I disagree. I think parents can do a lot to help kids learn social skills, help kid find activities they enjoy, and help kids become confident by learning to do real things.

We can't really *fix* it, but we can give kids the tools they need to fix it for themselves.
Right. That's pretty much what I said in my 2nd sentence. I meant we can't wave a wand over it to make the difficulty disappear. We can only help guide at this point.

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#17 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here. Thanks for all the replies!

I only have a minute & will respond more later, but basically, yes, DS lacks social confidence/social skills with other kids (he is oddly fine with adults??).

He plays with two boys in the neighborhood who are both in 3rd grade. They are racing hot wheels in my hallway right now. I am guessing most 6th grade boys don't do that anymore (not that I care, of course--I don't see the rush in having them grow up so fast). It is weird--in theory, I don't think I'd want my 3rd grader playing with a 6th grader, but they do seem to get along well.

FTR, I was a total geek in school and DH was a complete nerd.

We had DS tested at age 7 or 8 for Asperger's Syndrome & while he did have many characteristics, the doc felt he was more "quirky" than autistic & he laid out a projected development scenario for me that I have to say, has been pretty much right on target.

DS is in band, but I hear from DS#2 that he wants to quit. I am going to do everything in my power to keep him IN! It was a great group to be in when I was in school--a refuge for many of us "misfits".
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#18 of 27 Old 03-15-2010, 06:34 PM
 
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I have a 10 YO, currently in 4th grade, but I can definitely see this being in his future. For those who think social skills can be taught -- by whom and how? I am not as socially skilled as I would like and am clearly not the right person and neither is DH. I don't want DS to feel as awkward as I did in middle and high school. Where would you suggest we turn?
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#19 of 27 Old 03-18-2010, 10:06 AM
 
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My DS has had challenges making friends since he started school & has been picked on at lunch time by kids he really, really wanted to hang out with. Fortunately that did start to change last year, & this year he has even made a new friend who seems to be very nice & they enjoy each others company. I don't get too hung up on the age difference thing, it's more a sharing of interests that is important. If your (OP's) boy wants to play hotwheels right now instead of girls & cell-phones, well.... that's okay, you know what I mean? He's finding his niche. Soon enough he will be re-building a Mustang in your garage.

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#20 of 27 Old 03-23-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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I'm looking at this from the point of view of a 48 year old who has recently had a discussion with my good friend about the importance of knitting and origami in the world of mathematic.

The friend and I both have PhD's in Chemistry and the friend has just finished an MSc in Math and is wondering why I'm not interested in an advanced degree in topology.

Friends are hard to find. Real friends you "get" you. But if you follow your bliss, you'll find your friends. My bliss is science education and building a neighbourhood community within a suburban society. It's taken years to find my niche. The scars aren't totally erased.

What has held me together is my own family. They have been there through thick and thin and they have been there when my science friends haven't. My family modelled the community building that inspired me in the first place.
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#21 of 27 Old 03-23-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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I think where the issue lies is the bullies telling him he that there is something wrong with him. Where in fact he sounds like a great kiddo.
Yes, yes, yes.

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Originally Posted by QueeTheBean View Post
We had DS tested at age 7 or 8 for Asperger's Syndrome & while he did have many characteristics, the doc felt he was more "quirky" than autistic & he laid out a projected development scenario for me that I have to say, has been pretty much right on target.

DS is in band, but I hear from DS#2 that he wants to quit. I am going to do everything in my power to keep him IN! It was a great group to be in when I was in school--a refuge for many of us "misfits".
That's interesting! My son is probably to the left of center on The Spectrum. He gets it from me. And I had a very difficult time of it in 5th through 7th grade. Eighth grade things started to calm down.

I don't have specific advice for you, other than to second the band thing. Dh and I met in high school orchestra. Dd is a freshman in highschool and is in band. It's her family and I'm grateful she's in with a good bunch of kids.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#22 of 27 Old 04-20-2010, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm looking at this from the point of view of a 48 year old who has recently had a discussion with my good friend about the importance of knitting and origami in the world of mathematic.

The friend and I both have PhD's in Chemistry and the friend has just finished an MSc in Math and is wondering why I'm not interested in an advanced degree in topology.

Friends are hard to find. Real friends you "get" you. But if you follow your bliss, you'll find your friends. My bliss is science education and building a neighbourhood community within a suburban society. It's taken years to find my niche. The scars aren't totally erased.

What has held me together is my own family. They have been there through thick and thin and they have been there when my science friends haven't. My family modelled the community building that inspired me in the first place.


Thanks for this. It made me cry, but not in a bad way. I try, if nothing else, to make my home a safe place for my kids to land.
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#23 of 27 Old 04-22-2010, 09:17 AM
 
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ditto to what bestjob posted. I was similar in school, and general not-fitting-in became really awful torturing in jr. high and high school. It really took a beating on my self-esteem. Interestingly, even though I was shy, I was happy with girl scouts- especially in the older years. Most people drop out by high school, so the ones still in are likely to be similar in personality. And then I got to college and realized there were all sorts of people just like me.

Now I have a son that's 10 who now homeschools, but last year was in 2nd in public school. They were already starting to talk about some of these things then, and my son was no where near interested in that. He was already starting to not fit in then. (My decision to homeschool was not related to a social aspect of school.) Interestingly enough, when we enrolled him into cub scouts in one town over (the closest pack) he met a bunch of other boys that wanted to build bows and arrows and talk about dragons/fantasy stuff just like him. I'm not saying you need to push your son into a group, but there could be something out there for him. (ex. volunteer work on occasion in an area that holds his interest?)

I think some personality/ interests per year are regional and cultural as well. In a more rural or poorer area, cell phones and video games might not be the big thing. My husband teaches that age group 5th-8th. Where he is at now, the 6th graders are kind of like you described- into texting/video games/starting to talk about sex alot. Two years ago at a different school, his 6th graders were into sports bigtime, with fantasy sports team things being the big thing (lots of stats, boys fighting with each other because their 'team' was better etc.). When he first started out after college, he was at a school where the 6th graders were really big on fighting about John Deere's and International Harvesters and how many points were on the deer your dad shot. (Being from huge urban area, this was kind of shocking to him on how serious kids were taking this- fist fights over what equipment your dad had for his field, teasing someone because his dad's buck was small- a bit of culture shock for us.)

None of which is going to help your son fit in where he's at right this second, but sometimes it helps to keep in mind that in the school one county over, maybe the 6th graders are building elaborate tracks for their hot wheels and your son'll meet them when he's a teen.

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#24 of 27 Old 04-28-2010, 07:55 AM
 
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I wanted to offer some words of encouragement. You could be describing my son at your son's age. Getting through grade school was academically easy but socially difficult for him. We tried to teach him social skills (he doesn't have Asperger's but is on the quirky side), and it didn't help that he was in classes with his very popular, socially adept twin sister.

Anyway, fast forward many years to now, and he's absolutely thriving. It's a joy to see. He's almost 16, and he's a sophomore in high school. He is a different kid--involved in so many activities (Latin Honor Society, Latin competition club, pep band, improv group, school satire newspaper), and he's found his niche. People "get" him, and he has friends.

The most important thing we did was find the right high school for him. He's in a science and tech program & it is absolutely the best fit. If you can find a similar program, one that's tailored to your son's strengths, I think you will find that your son comes through this beautifully.

I know it's hard right now.
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#25 of 27 Old 04-29-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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The most important thing we did was find the right high school for him. He's in a science and tech program & it is absolutely the best fit. If you can find a similar program, one that's tailored to your son's strengths, I think you will find that your son comes through this beautifully.
I was going to suggest something similar to this.

You said your son is good academically, would he qualify for a gifted program? If so, he might meet kids who are more similar to him
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#26 of 27 Old 05-04-2010, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Interesting.

There is a math-science school (still a public school) that goes from middle school through HS. DS is very gifted in math--one of his math teachers said she used to be able to use his tests as the master copy to check the others.

My neighbor is in his grade and she goes there. I have spoken to DS several times about it, but he insists that he doesn't want to move. It has been a tough year, but he is so afraid to go somewhere where he would hardly know anyone. Better the devil you know, I guess?

It is already too late to get him in for next year, anyway--unless I begged or really pushed the school, MAYBE I would have a shot. He is just so darn stubborn, he won't even talk to her about it--or even consider visiting the school.

He is my firstborn, and I fully admit to being lost here--I could do babies & toddler, but this pre-teen thing is very challenging to me. I am not sure when to push and when to back off. Either way, I am feeling like a mom-failure.
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#27 of 27 Old 05-06-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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There is a math-science school (still a public school) that goes from middle school through HS. DS is very gifted in math--one of his math teachers said she used to be able to use his tests as the master copy to check the others.

My neighbor is in his grade and she goes there. I have spoken to DS several times about it, but he insists that he doesn't want to move. It has been a tough year, but he is so afraid to go somewhere where he would hardly know anyone. Better the devil you know, I guess?

It is already too late to get him in for next year, anyway--unless I begged or really pushed the school, MAYBE I would have a shot. He is just so darn stubborn, he won't even talk to her about it--or even consider visiting the school.
It's not uncommon for kids like ours to be a bit inflexible when it comes to change. Is there a natural age for transition that's coming up? You said he's in 6th grade--would he move to a new middle school next year, or did he already do that?

I really can't say enough positive things about what it's like for my son to be around similar-minded kids. The other cool thing about his particular public HS is that the science/tech/math magnet kids are within the larger, regular population. The HS has over 3,000 kids, and with so many students, there aren't really cliques; there's a niche for everyone.

Are there any ways you could introduce him to some of the students at the other school so he could get to know a few kids? Is there a summer program? You might want to call that school and have a talk with someone who's likely dealt with these situations before.

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Either way, I am feeling like a mom-failure.
You're not a failure.

BTW, my son is also a math guy, and his HS provides him with more math opportunities than other schools in the area. He's chosen to take an extra math course this summer in order to take a college math course (Differential Equations) in his senior year. How cool is that? If your son loves math, he'll likely love the extra classes available to him at the math/science school.
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