What's the best situation for my sensitive kid?
May 26, 2012 4:33 PM Subscribe
My 8 year old daughter is a highly sensitive introvert who needs social skills. What kind of atmosphere or school or activities would benefit her?
posted by biscuits to Human Relations (44 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My daughter has always been highly sensitive, anxious, emotional, and introverted. She cried a lot as a baby and had a lot of separation anxiety. She has always been more emotional than other kids (cries easily, at most movies), needing a lot of nurturing and closeness. As a preschooler, we had her evaluated for sensory integration. They found that she had poor fine motor and gross motor skills, difficulty with how she perceived her body in space, etc. She did a year of OT and managed kindergarten great.
My daughter goes to a large public school and has been pretty content there. Because the school is large, they mix up the classrooms every year so she has had a different "best friend" every year because she loses touch with the best friend from the previous years. She says she's a "one friend at a time kind of person." She's pretty shy and quiet at school and sometimes won't return other people's hellos, won't join a conversation in line or join a group of kids playing.
The reason I am asking my question is lately she's been asking to switch schools. I have a feeling it has to do with this year's "best friend." Let's call her Suzy. Suzy is alternately nice to my daughter and then will be controlling and negative. She will put her down calling her things "babyish" or "lame, no offense." She'll brag about herself and it irritates my daughter who feels competitive with her. Suzy gets into arguments with other girls on the playground and complains a lot about her "enemies." Even though my daughter complains, she still wants to invite her over to play every week. She's pretty rude when she comes over and I have to set a lot of limits with her. My daughter is scared to break up this friendship because she says "you don't want Suzy as an enemy."
Bottom line is I know my daughter needs better social skills. She seems attracted to girls like this and needs to know how to make better friends. She needs to be able to stand up for herself. We go over the different things she can say in response to rude remarks, how to stand up for herself, what a "good" friendship looks like, how no one can "make you" do anything. We talk about what it feels like to have a good friend, one that makes you feel happy and makes you laugh. All that stuff. I just am at a loss at how to really teach her this stuff.
The question is: I'm wondering if my daughter would benefit from a smaller school? Since it's a large school, they mix things up every year and my daughter is not staying connected. Perhaps a smaller school would be more nurturing and you'd really get to know the kids better? On the other hand she might find another Suzy at a small school too. I could go to administration and say that I want her separated from Suzy next year but there are no guarantees that they will honor this request or that they won't meet on the playground. I've investigated another school nearby with a more alternative philosophy (mixed grades, flexible curriculum, self-directed study) but it's much louder and more chaotic than her current school. I think they study in groups so I like the social part of it, but I'm worried about the noisy atmosphere. My daughter is doing fine academically at her traditional school where the classroom is quiet. We'd be choosing the alternative for the sweeter, community-oriented social aspects.
If the school switch is not the answer, what other activities or things can I put her in that would benefit her? What should I expose her to? We've tried sports and she doesn't seem to like it. Same with karate.
If you have a child like this, what has been good for her/him? Maybe you were a child like this--what was helpful to you?
PS. I don't want to bash Suzy--she's not a bad kid. I think her mom is lovely and Suzy is perhaps affected by a divorce plus needing some social skills herself. It's complicated. Just fyi.