Second Grader with Social Issues

Updated on February 09, 2010
S.A. asks from Chicago, IL
9 answers

Hi Mamas,

My 7 year-old daughter is in second grade and she seems to be lacking a bit in her social skills. This is starting to cause her to get teased, which makes her react badly, which causes her to get teased even more. She is a very friendly and sweet girl. She would play with anyone, and expects everyone to feel the same way. When certain kids at school don't want to play with her or exclude her, she gets in their face and tells them they have to be nice to her or she's never going to be friends with them again. Some of them have started laughing at her and telling her they're not her friend anyway. Then she comes home and cries to me. I am trying to make her see that she shouldn't get in their faces like that because then they make fun of her, but she doesn't seem to get it. I have been watching her in social situations and it seems like she is starting to become a target. I've noticed some of the kids teasing her to get a rise out of her, or make her cry. Of course then she does cry or yell at them and they snicker, and keep it up. I've told her she needs to absolutely not cry and not let them see it bothers her, or they'll keep doing it. She says she understands, but she doesn't seem to be able to help herself. She has never been someone to let others get the better of her, but she's ending up to not have many friends. I think she is a bit on the immature side, and I don't know if this is something I can teach her or if she'll have to figure it out on her own. How can I teach her better ways to handle these issues? She is a very smart girl, and gets all A's on her report card, I just don't know why she can't be socially smart as well. I don't want her to be the most popular girl in school, but I want her to have good friends, and to not be teased and bullied. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

I think she may have more success with a one on one situation. Choose a kindhearted girl from her class and start making playdates with her. Kids who have frequent playdates tend to have more friends.

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answers from Springfield on

I am having the same issues with my just turned 8 yr. old son. He came home saying some of the kids were pushing him around. He started crying because of them being mean to him. He is a very sensitive child. Smart and gets all A's as well. I told him he could handle it one of a few ways. The best being to just walk away and avoid those kids. But that if walking away doesn't work, make sure you shove one of them back hard enuf you shove them down and let them know you will not tolerate them pushing you around. So, he can either learn to stand up for himself or walk away. I don't condone fighting but these kids are bullies. We live in a small town and know these kids' parents. I told my son whatever you do, don't cry cuz then they'll know they're getting to you. I tried to reiterate that it isn't okay to fight, that it isn't the best way to handle things. I reminded him to just avoid them and not play with those kids. The worse part is, the whole school had been learning about bullies. I'm like you, don't want my child to be the most popular, just to get along with everyone. I was a kid much like him, who got picked on and remember very well how it hurt. So, it does make me angry to think my child has to go thru it. I even doubt my parenting and that I'm doing something wrong. I think we're definitely doing right by telling them not to cry, walk away and not to let others see they're getting to them.

After reading everyone's comments about role-playing, I think I'll try that as well as speaking with the school counselor. It's always good to have a Mom who's been thru it or going thru it to talk to, to help find a better solution. I thank you Suzanne for the question and the rest of you for the suggestions. It's helped me as well!!



answers from Chicago on

I agree with the other two posters, you can absolutely teach social skills! We aren't born with them! We learn them from watching others.

Definitely role play with her, taking turns who gets to be "her." Show her what's she's doing so she knows how to looks or feels. Then help her discover new solutions and have her practice them. It worked when my 6-year old was getting teased at school. She would get teased to the point where she was mad, then when she lashed out she would be the one in trouble. We did a lot of role playing until she was confident she could ignore the teaser. Suddenly the teasing stopped!

Sometimes role playing is too direct, especially if the situation was really recent. In that case use Barbie dolls or stuffed animals first. Then try the role playing.

I also try to be real with the situations. If she comes up with a solution, play it out like you think it would work. So if she gets mad and yells, pretend you're running to the teacher or yelling back. Then stop the role playing (usually I say 'that's it" and that means the role playing is no longer going) and discuss why the situation turned for the worse and how she could fix it.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

My son is a bit like this (he's in first grade). I have found that talking to him about it helps....but only if I combine it with role-playing. First we do it where I play him, and he plays the kids that tease him/are mean to him. At first I fly off the handle and get all angry, to show him how the kids see him. Then we do it again (same roles) and when he teases me, I completely ignore him. After we role-play like this, we talk about it, and discuss what works and what doesn't. Then, we role-play again, only this time he plays himself and I play the mean kids. He usually wants to only role-play when he "ignores" the mean, teasing remarks. I then praise him for handling himself so well. Lots of hugs and kisses too!

I find that this not only teaches him how to react properly, but more importantly, it gives him confidence that he can "handle" situations such as this. It does have to be reinforced quite a bit at the beginning, because old habits are hard to break. But if you can start building their confidence foundation at this early age, hopefully our children will be better equiped to handle these type of people their whole lives.

I hope this helps you both. Good luck!!!



answers from Chicago on

I have an 11yr old that had the same issues, and they still continue a bit to this day. I feel your pain. I have told my daughter the same as you. If they get a reaction from you they have accomplished what they wanted. She also is a bit immature, shy, and sensitive.

I have told her when they say something too you, like " I don't want to play with you" do not say anything negative back. Maybe say to them "Ok, I will go play with someone else".

I have also told her many times, to go search out the other girls sitting on the sidelines wanting someone to play with.

It is hard to get them to see that the mean girls are not 'Cool".

Girls are so mean to each other, and the sooner they learn to control how they react to the bullies, the better.

I have 2 other daughters in 2nd grade as well, so I am in the midst of it all over again.

Good Luck.



answers from Chicago on

Hi Suzanne.
I teach 2nd grade and I see firsthand how cruel little girls can be. I would role play with her and I would also bring this to the attention of the teacher. I hope this helps.



answers from Houston on

Hi Suzanne-

I'm sorry to hear of your daughters struggles. I'm not trying to be an alarmist or cause undue worry but because it is so underdiagnosed in girls whenever I hear someone discussing these types of social issues I'm quick to ask if they have read much about Aspergers. My son was diagnosed with it when he was 4 and is now in 2nd grade. Lack of social skills is only one part of Aspergers so if this is her only symptom then of course she does not fit the description but sometimes other things that we think are unrelated are present. Here is a link to an article about Asperger's in girls.

Good luck,



answers from Chicago on

Is there a school social worker at your school? If so, voice your concerns to her/him. They usually have small groups that work on such issues as social skills. It could be good practice with peers, and also a place to make friends. Also, try role playing at home. If you put your words into actions, sometimes it helps. Practice, practice, practice. Good luck. It is heartbreaking to see your child hurt, and they don't always have the internal resources to fix it themselves. Good to you for stepping in.



answers from Chicago on

My son sounds exactly like your daughter. Make an appointment to meet with your child's teachers, school nurse, special ed coordinator and district social worker. They will be able to help guide you toward a diagnosis. Your daughter may have Aspergers -- a high functioning type of Autism. These children are extremely bright, but they don't process social cues like facial expressions, body language, etc. Social role playing is excellent and very necessary, but she may need additional support. Appearing immature is very common as Aspies are not socially as mature as their peers. They tend to be comfortable playing with younger children. My son is in third grade and very smart, but his friends tend to be in first or second grade. While it may be bullying, my gut says Aspergers because of your description of her behaviors. Please, please seek help. The sooner she has intervention, the better her chances will be of leading the type of life you and she desire. Google Asperger's Syndrome. There are tons of places you can get more information.


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