J.K. asks from Austin, TX on October 27, 2008
All My 7 Year Old Cares About Is Playing with Friends
I need some suggestions and advice.. My son is just completely obsessed about playing with his friends and it is the only thing he is interested in doing. I realize it is great that he is social but at the same time I see it becoming a problem. He was so into playing soccer and was getting pretty good at it, but now it has just become a big play date for him. He doesn't focus at all, he just jumps around and tackles his friends.. I am not pushing soccer by any means, but I won't sign him up next season if he isn't going to play. His teacher said he is never interested in doing their extra credit "math challenge" because he is too concerned and busy with spending time with his friends.. Today after school he cried over everything and said it was a terrible day and that all he wants to do is play with friends.. I was going to just have him stay home but soon enough a friend came to the door and asked if they could play and within a split second he became the happiest child ever.. I have no idea what to do.. I would just like a quiet afternoon with NO friends... any suggestions or input on what this all means in a 7 year olds development?
M.M. answers from Houston on October 28, 2008
Good morning J.! We have the same problem and I actually felt like I was the neighborhood babysitter because we would have the same friends come over every day. I also felt like you did and I am excited that my son is social, but on the other hand I wanted time with him. We also had the same issue at soccer practice and so I talked with the coach and made it clear to him that I wanted my son to practice and that it was OK with me that he get on to him and made him pay attention. That worked a little bit because he tends to listen to other people better than me. I also started trying to reward him with stickers on his chart for every practice that his coach does not have to get on to him and that works as well. The chart consist of 30 squares to which he has to completely fill with stickers and then he gets to go somewhere special or get a special treat. I have him pick the special item before he starts to fill it up with stickers and that gives me a little amo to use if he starts acting up. With regards to the friends, we have made a rule that from the time he gets out of school (which is 3:00) until 4:00, he has to spend quite time with me doing his homework and talking about his day. Then from 4:00 to 5:30 he is allowed to have friends over and play(this also allows me time to get supper cooked) and then the friends have to go home after that. On Fridays we do allow the friends to come back over after we eat supper for about another hour. There is however those few kids in the neighborhood that dont follow the rules and so we have two signs that we put on our front door. The first one states that it is Hunter's quite time and they can come back after 4:00 and the other one says that it is our supper/family time and they need to come back tomorrow. Most of the time this works and sometimes they still ring the door bell, but we dont answer the door and they eventually go away. Most of the kids know the rules now and so if you will do this for about two weeks then I dont think you will have any issues anymore. It has also helped my son too because I have seen that when he has that down time after school, that he is less irritable in the evenings. It has also helped with doing his homework because he now has an incentive to get his work done and do it right the first time so that he can play at 4:00. Anyway, I hope this helps you and good luck.
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K.B. answers from Houston on October 27, 2008
As a former school teacher my best guess is that he is starting to find school more challenging and is not feeling that confident or successful at it. On the flipside, when he's with his friends he is popular and finds play to be very natural and he's good at it. My suggestion is to help him find balance. Do you have a schedule for after school? He needs to have a set playtime to be with his friends or just doing kid stuff around the house but then he needs a set time to work on his school work. It's also ok for you to say no when friends drop by at inconvenient times or if you want to designate a couple of days a week as family days, no friends allowed. He'll complain a lot in the beginning but if you try to make these days special for him, he'll learn that he can enjoy his friends and he can enjoy his family and hopefully he'll learn to even enjoy school work.
1 mom found this helpful
S.B. answers from Houston on October 28, 2008
We went through this with my 7 yr old. He literally doesn't even want to get in the car to go out to dinner because he would rather play with his friends. He is the youngest of 4 kids and he would literally cry all the way to dinner until it totally ruined the evening for everyone! He didn't want to do school work, home work, chores, etc. All I can say is "Stay Strong and Persevere!" He will get past it. We actually had a problem with his grades last year. He turned 8 in May and is in 3rd grade now with mostly As and some Bs. He really has turned around. At some point it is very frustrating.....if you pick your battles, you can both make it through without losing your sanity. Good luck!
T.L. answers from Austin on October 28, 2008
Sounds like you need to teach him the word No.So what if he cries.Then you discipline for throwing a tantrum by grounding him and not letting him play w/his friends for a couple of days.Stick to you guns and don't back down.I know it'll work cause i dealt with mine last year when he was seven for the same reason and stuck by what i said cause im the parent and it worked.Don't give in or you won't be taken seriously.
Crying can be annoying but its more annoying putting up w/the nonsense that ruins your evenings and making everyone else annoyed.
It'll take a few time before he gets the message that your not putting up w/his nonsense that he wants what he wants when he wants.
R.A. answers from Houston on October 28, 2008
Your post brings back memories! My son was in soccer and he had more fun goofing around with the boys on the team then actually playing soccer. As with most activities he has participated in, he seeks out friends. Cub scouts seemed to work best for us. The boys learn and play together. Our afternoon schedule works like this; first, homework, get it out of the way. Then for the rest of the afternoon he can play with friends either outside or at their house or our house. Then after dinner we usually have family time without friends over etc. But, sometimes I let him go play again. This is the time in their life that they get to just be kids, play and not worry about the future. I remember when I was a little girl all I wanted to do in the afternoon was play with my friends. I loved my family, of course, but playing with friends was the hilight of my day. As for not being interested in a 'math challenge'. I'd say, that's normal. I'm an adult and I would rather go hang out with my friends than do a 'math challenge'. Bleck!!
L.B. answers from El Paso on October 28, 2008
I think that maybe your son need help in understanding that you can't always "play" with your friends. What if mommy wanted to "play" and that's why dinner didn't get made, or the laundry doen etc... In that situation, I wouldn't have let him go out and play. There is nothing wrong with down time. We all need it and kids probably do moreso. Maybe you could try setting one day a week that has no activites, friends or outside commitments( hard to do I know) and see if that helps at all.
M.B. answers from Beaumont on October 28, 2008
That sounds like pretty normal behavior for a seven year old to me. He is being a kid. We try to structure every minute of their day and want them to focus and be diligent about everything. Did you do all that when you were seven? Kids need room and space to just have some down time and just play.I would save the serious sports and math achievement things for when he is older and wants to do that. Let your child be the lead on what appeals to him as much as possible.
School is extremely structured all day and they are all about to explode by the time they get out each day. Most schools do not even get to have recess much if any anymore. Everything is structured. However, that said, you do have the right to decide when and how long other kids come over. I gave mine time each day to play, especially outside with their friends.
S.O. answers from San Antonio on October 28, 2008
My seven year old daughter is the same. It's normal, but scary. She is so attached and bored unless someone is there to play with. I have personally decided to keep reminding her of the values I think are important. Only boring people get bored. You can have fun by yourself. Etc. I also plan to spend time with her myself - but you will have to insist on it and maybe change locations for that afternoon or set up a special project together. You could also set up time limits or days on/off. Regarding the soccer - I would just let him choose. If he just wants to play, then you promise to set up times where he can play with those friends. But, if wants to play soccer, then he needs to pay attention to the game when at practice/games, because it costs you money. Otherwise, if the coach doesn't mind, then I wouldn't worry too much about it, just curb it somewhat. I have to remind myself that this is a good time to reinforce social values. It provides great opportunities for us to train our children well. If they didn't go through this and were hermits, we wouldn't have as many opportunities to teach them important social lessons. Like what good friends are, how much we should try to impress and when not to care, etc. Sometimes, I also sit outside with them as they play and try to get in a magazine read time. It allows me to watch how they play, get to know their friends, and my kids actually love it when I do it. They seem much happier and don't mind playing by themselves if I'm outside with them, even when I'm not playing with them.