Could use some advice for a socially awkward 10 year old girl

Gina T. asks from Canton, MA
15 answers

OK Mamas - I would love some advice on how to help my 10 year old girl.
She is such a sweet kid, extremely smart (top of her class - in the spelling bee, excelled math classes) and very loving. I am worried about her getting bullied because she doesn't have a mean bone in her body.
She is also SUPER tall so people often expect her to be older than she is so I think this makes things harder on her.
She is 5'1" tall and only 65 lbs. Not only is she socially awkward, she is physically awkward. I do have her in some physical programs that she loves and it is building her confidence, so that helps.
But she can be incredibly awkward in social situation and most times she doesn't even know it. She interrupts ALL the time, doesn't give people even personal space, stares a lot, and will start telling stories about herself that are completely irrelevant. I've tried talking to her about this, but it is not getting through to her and she feels like I am picking on her.
Then I feel awful because I am not trying to ruin her spirit or her confidence, but she only has one year left of elementary school and I keep hearing about how hard middle school kids are on each other - especially girls.
Her 7 year old sister seems to innately pick up on these social skills whereas my 10 year old just does not.
I would love some kind words of advice that you think would help that would not destroy her confidence.
I am so sad over this. She is such a nice kid and I see disasters waiting to happen. I am at a loss of what to do!
Thanks in advance.

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15 Answers

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Olga C.

answers from Santa Clara on

Hi Gina, My name is Olga. It seems that you are describing my son's behavior, except the part of being a good student. He has trouble focusing in class and with his writing even though he is very bright and has a keen memory. Have you talk to your pediatrician?
My son was diagnosed ADHD inattentive. He tested a little positive to be borderline in the spectrum(ASD), but the special Ed professionals say symptoms of both ADHD and ASD overlap so the school psychologist said she was not sure. He has been to some social skills class and they helped a little. We were not comfortable giving him the drugs/medication for ADHD so I give him a couple of Natural medicines that help him not a lot, but help. Sorry, I hate all this labels for kids, but thist is my reality. I wish you luck in finding the answers and help you and your daughter need. Best,

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Melanie B.

answers from Houston on

I don’t have words of wisdom or advise but perhaps suggestions may help...
Kids are mean & they do bully but those mean kids are just humans & their opinion doesn’t matter what so ever!! We as humans put people as idols instead of God which His opinion is the only one that matters. But i understand she’s young & vulnerable so keep her confidence up & find important women in the world that have made a huge difference in this world... one was Princess Diana whom at youg age was talk, lanky & shy. I wouldn’t necessarily use models bc they are all thin & ari brushed in magazines which is deceitful. Oh how I wish I was taller... if she started menustrating she may not grow anymore.
Good luck & my prayers are w/u

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RealityChick

answers from San Diego on

You can practice some practical situations with her how she should respond and what would be appropriate. Doing a rehearsal and dry run through of situations is important so she can understand. If she is a good student she likes to study, she needs to study and practice how to act and respond. This might be natural for other kids, but she might take a lot more training. You can do a practice situation with a buzzer, if she interrupts. Go through how she should interact with people.

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Bobby G.

answers from Lindenhurst on

I think the mom is bright and her observations on point. I would simply keep working on what you are doing in a nice way. If there are social skills classes check them out. Do work on getting flattering clothes. You could try giving her Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

What you mention seems to have an ADHD component, and you may want to check with the school. ( I do not think karate would help, its primary function is to take bullies, and help them improve their pugilistic skills so they are more effective and scary). It does make sense to try to teach her to listen. One common mistake such kids make is trying to be a leader when it simply comes across as annoying and bossy.

TF Plano/Allen

answers from Plano on

Around here, we don't keep up with who the top of the class is... we focus on our own child. You do have some parents who love to tell everyone that their child is the best at everything they do. That is what typically puts more pressure on the child.

As smart as she is, she need to learn some social skills. You can d that a number f ways with extracurricular activities such as a social skills class, martial arts teaches WAY more than just blocking and kicking.. it helps with self discipline , control and teaches children how to act as well.

I would also say that when she chooses to communicate with you, do not EVER let her know that you think what she is saying is irrelevant. It is NOT irrelevant.. be thankful she is communicating with you because you NEED good communication.

If she does step into other people's space, there will be a time that it will be pointed out to her and she may get embarrassed. Peer pressure can also be a good thing.

Love her, listen to her and allow her to develop at her own pace. Give her tools such as social skills training, books, activities so she can learn.

2 moms found this helpful

2kidmama

answers from Red River on

My child who was not good at social skills got better at it over time by being with other kids. The peer pressure really helped teach him to stop trying to always get his way, stop interrupting so much, to compromise, etc. It was hard on him when he was young (starting age 6 or so) but he very much wants to be around other kids which helped a lot. If he refused to compromise they said ok, and played without him which he hated. If he refused to share they got angry and left. If he was extra self centered they shunned him a bit. Since he looked up to quite a few of the older neighbor kids it helped him shape up, so to speak. (With many tears...but sometimes hard learning experiences are good. These were not mean kids. If it were bullying that would be different) So, my advice is get her in as many social situations as possible and let the wolf pack help teach her (hopefully they are not really a wolf pack, but you know what I mean!). Neighborhood kids? Girl scouts? Soccer team? A kids theater group? School friends. Help her be in situations where she is with a group of other girls long term. Keep talking to her about how to converse with others, how to be a good friend, how to not interrupt, etc. Some kids are just not as good at this as others and also learn to embrace her as she is! The awkward girl...that can be charming too! My husband and I are both scientists and we know quite a few friends/fellow scientists who are awkward adults...and everyone accepts them as they are.

3 moms found this helpful
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Jill K.

answers from Stevens Point on

Look into Social Skills therapy. It teaches both self awareness dealing with things like personal space and interrupting, as well as awareness of others and how to be a listener and look for social cues.

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chacha

answers from Brooklyn on

"Will start telling stories about herself that are completely irrelevant".

I don't mean to sound harsh, but, you are skating on VERY thin parental ice if you describe ANYTHING your tween daughter says to you ABOUT HERSELF as "completely irrelevant".

Be VERY thankful that she continues to open up and talks to you at her age. LISTEN very carefully.

And then come back here and write to us all about the "completely irrelevant" parts, after you meet the mother who wishes she had known [that her daughter was contemplating suicide, that her daughter was being pressured to experiment with drugs, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera].

1 mom found this helpful

Suz t.

answers from Sharpsburg on

sometimes it's the very 'picking' (which is often misidentified as bullying) that gets through to kids.

we've tried to bypass the natural social hierarchy, which is indeed sometimes cruel, at our peril.

if she gets some blowback for interrupting or crowding, that might be the very thing she needs. your more gentle attempts, which she resents, don't get through. a peer's rougher approach might.

is she feeling picked on at this point? or is it just you who is noticing the danger signs? has she come to you for help?

role playing is a great way to help kids develop coping tools.

but sometimes the wolf pack works exactly as it's been genetically designed to do.
khairete
suz

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Marda P.

answers from Portland on

You're concerned she will be bullied. If she's not been bullied so far it's unlikely she'll be bullied in the future.

Sounds like she needs help learning how to listen and what to say. You could coach her with role play. You be another kid and have conversations with her. When she wanders off subject remind her and suggest how to stay in the conversation.

1 mom found this helpful

Diane B.

answers from Westborough on

I would try to shift her far, far away from the academic stuff. Spelling bees and math scores and top-of-the-class standing only count for so much. Kids who are brilliant and kids who are not so brilliant can have the same social problems - so I would get away from emphasizing her brilliance because that's going to put so so so much pressure on her to be perfect in other ways.

I'm sure she doesn't have a mean bone in her body - but that's not how she comes off to others. She interrupts, which people will interpret as "You're not that interesting, and I'm smarter than you are" and that is actually worse if she's in a school that emphasizes who is at the top of the class in elementary school! She's got a lot of resentment directed at her already. In my son's elementary school, none of us had any idea who was at the top of the class - because no one kept track of such things. So if she's in a school that does so, she's got an added burden.

Social skills are like everything else - like spelling and multiplication tables and the periodic table of elements: they are learned. And they can be taught.

Please have her work with a child psychologist to help her decode body language and social cues, and to figure out specifically why she has trouble here. I think it's often out of our hands as parents, and we need to defer to and seek the counsel of professionals, just as you would for a doctor, dentist or teacher.

4 moms found this helpful
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Margie G.

answers from Portland on

Not all kids are socially adept. That's ok. It will come. I wouldn't point it out. Unless she's being rude, I wouldn't make a big deal. Some of my kids needed a bit more help than others - and some were more comfortable with themselves than others too. I try not to compare.

I think we parents can be overly sensitive to this stuff - remember, we're sometimes more critical than we need to be. We're looking out for our kids, but remember - all kids are figuring this stuff out at this age.

Some really extraverted confident kids can come across as rude, and some quiet reserved kids can come across as rude. They are who they are and most (99%) are just fine. They figure it out. A lot of them are physically awkward at this age too.

I wouldn't worry about what is to come - it hasn't happened yet. That's just your fears. Let that go. Chances are it will never happen.

A wise person once said to me, but is your child happy? And I stopped and thought well yes, then they said Well then ....

You said she's a nice loving kid. Be thankful for that. It would be much worse if you didn't have a nice loving kid. You see disasters waiting to happen. They likely never will. Just enjoy the here and now. You see an awkward child but maybe you are overly sensitive to this. Maybe you were awkward as a child? I sometimes worry unnecessarily with my kids and they are just fine :)

3 moms found this helpful

B

answers from Chesapeake on

Sign her up for taekwondo.
It will be good for her on so many levels.
If you think she has borderline Aspergers then talk to your pediatrician about an evaluation so you can get a diagnosis and appropriate therapy for her.

Middle school is hard for a lot of kids.
Everyone is in transition, having an awkward phase, exploring new ways of dressing, etc.
The ones who seem fine merely hide their anxiety well.
It's an adventure for everyone - parents included.
Just try to roll with it.

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Retta ..

answers from San Antonio on

Does she have any close friends in elementary school that will be going to middle school with her? My son is not the fastest to pick up social cues BUT his group of friends really helped him navigate elementary school. Then only one friend went with him to middle but they are still good friends and he helps him navigate the waters there...

In our area they have specialized schools for kids interested in computers, science, robotics, engineering, design, theater, etc. They are part of the public school system but you apply if you meet the requirements grades and behavior wise then it is a lottery to get in. My son got in a school for STEM kids (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). He told me after the first week it was great because everyone was a nerd, so who was going to get made fun of...right?? There is more pressure to get great grades than to be popular. It is perfect for him.

Maybe there is a charter or magnet program in your school district good for your daughter or electives she can take that will help her find her "tribe" (kids like herself.) Good luck!!

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