Friendships

(16 Posts)
hillian Fri 25-Oct-13 12:42:26

Has anyone else's G&T child struggled to make friends?

DS1 is a lovely child. Really warm and open-hearted. He'd be the one who'd go over to check if someone was ok if they'd got hurt playing football. Adults find him engaging and interesting because he has a very good general knowledge.

But he has always struggled to make friends. Partly its because he is a stickler for the rules of a game and partly its because he has a strong sense of fairness. He just won't let things pass.

He has just started secondary school and he's slowly shutting himself down because he just can't seem to make friends (the primary school best friend has found new friends). Its six weeks in and everyone has established a friendship group, except DS who is now feeling very lonely and very upset.

I've tried to interest him in the video games the other boys are apparently into, and he's sort of ok with them for a while. However, when he sees a game that would bore most other children, e.g. a general knowledge quiz.

Does anyone have any advice? (Please, be kind as I am really worried about how stressed DS is becoming).

YDdraigGoch Fri 25-Oct-13 12:48:40

Does he do any activitie outside school where he could meet like minded friends? What about something like a chess club? Scouts? There must be lots of clubs or activities he could do where he could make friends other than in school.

hillian Fri 25-Oct-13 12:56:04

Its the outside activities that he's recently insisted on giving up. He had three and now he'd only got scouts left. He's on a real downer on himself and he's decided that he's useless at the other things. (To be fair he wasn't exactly good, but he was passable at them and they were the sort of things that he could have shared as a common interest with other boys).

He'd be very good at chess, but I've hesitated on that one in case it gives him a geeky reputation which would make it even harder to find friends. He already attends the school's maths G&T club.

hillian Fri 25-Oct-13 12:58:53

Its as if he's too old and too serious for the other boys, and now he's too self-conscience to approach them even though he's desperate for friends.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 13:07:24

My son is just like yours. He is gifted and talented and has always struggled with friendships with children of his own age. When he was younger he used to struggle to understand why the other children were 'not clever', now he is a bit older he understands that everybody has different levels of ability and that different people are good at different things and that some things (usually sport) other people are much better than him at, but he still struggles to have real friendships due to his level of conversation and personal interests being a bit different.
These things are very common in children who are very gifted and talented (not just the top 10% who are defined as G&T by govt standards).
Maybe it would be a good idea for like minded children to get together.
How old is your son and roughly what part of the country are you in?

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 13:08:29

I'm guessing that he must be 11 if he has just started secondary school?

hillian Fri 25-Oct-13 13:27:14

He is 11 and we are in Surrey. How about your son?

I think he is a bit more than top 10% but he's not a dead-cert for Cambridge either IYSWIM?

I joined potential plus a few months ago, hoping for access to some advice - mainly relating to DS2 who is also very able. However, they keep emailing about get-togethers. Has anyone ever been to them? I am bit nervous that we won't fit in as my children are only really clever, not off-the scale geniuses!

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 13:58:06

My son is age 9 and is above the top 10% but I'm not sure how much above. He is working at level 6 maths, level 5 English and his reading age is about 5 years advanced, but there are definite areas which he struggles in (which isn't uncommon in G&T).
We are up in the North.
I haven't heard of potential plus but will check it out.
After reading extensively I have realised that the friendship issue isn't easily (or sometimes possible) to rectify, but finding a school with lots of very academic children is said to help some children due to having more opportunities to meet like minded peers and therefore not feel pressured to hide their talents to try and fit in whilst also having the opportunity of having something in common with other boys/ girls.

Is your son at a grammar school?
It is only half a term into the school year so things might improve as the year goes on and your son gets to know more people.

Norudeshitrequired Fri 25-Oct-13 14:04:01

Just had a look at potential plus (never heard of it before). I too would be worried about going due to being unsure whether my child is 'clever enough'.
I reckon it isn't as bad as we imagine though.

cornflakegirl Fri 25-Oct-13 14:11:34

I've been thinking about starting a similar thread about DS1. He's 8, generally clever, especially good at maths, and not very good at making friends. Although he's intellectually quite mature, he's emotionally quite immature. He does a fair number of activities outside school, and seems to be generally happy. He's also a real bookworm.

I'm just not really sure what, if anything, to do about encouraging friendships. I was quite like him as a child, and although I had friends at school, I didn't feel like I really fitted in till I went to university. Thing is, I'm not sure what my parents could have done differently. I had interests, I met other children, I just didn't really click with them.

My personal experience was that, aged about 10, I consciously decided not to care about being different and to stop trying to fit in wrt pop music / tv shows / clothes. Then around 14/15 I started trying to blend in a little bit more again.

If your DS is feeling lonely and upset, it sounds like a couple of solid friendships would really help him. So personally, I'd go for joining chess club and anything else that interests him, self-identifying as a geek, and trying to find other people like him, rather than trying to mould himself to fit with everyone else. And, if relevant, continuing to work on the social stuff so that he's not actively annoying other people (my personal decision not to care did go a bit far).

Don't know whether I'd go for a general get-together - the idea feels a bit forced to me. Would probably prefer something based around an activity - eg chess or programming or a maths challenge day.

Periwinkle007 Fri 25-Oct-13 14:23:54

I would go with things like chess, debating and so on, activities he will probably enjoy and which will give him the chance to meet likeminded kids. My dad was a chess master when I was younger and it never made him seem geeky to be one of the best in his chosen hobby.

moving to senior school must be a huge shock to lots of children and if it happens to coincide with a lack of confidence and low self esteem then it is going to be even worse for him.

I think you need to focus on building his self esteem, find what he is good at and try to apply it to hobbies or activities. then he will start to realise he is good at them and he will meet people who like the same things. It takes all sorts to make the world go round and he needs to value himself and the part he plays in the world THEN he will have the confidence to make more friends.

hillian Fri 25-Oct-13 14:43:37

That's good advice, Periwinkle007. Maybe its time to stop pushing against the grain.
Watching your dearly-loved 11 year old become so stressed and unhappy is very hard.

chillikate Fri 25-Oct-13 15:53:32

Hi Hillian.

We are in Hampshire and went to our first PPUK meet in September. Such a mix of people there!! And mostly quite normal!! My DS is not a genuis, he is G & T but with Dyslexia too.

The meet was really good. Its great to chat in a way that I can't with his friends parents. We're going up to Coventry on Sunday for one day of the PPUK Big Family Weekend.

wombler Fri 25-Oct-13 16:42:15

Hi Hillian

Name changed as I do not want to 'out' my DS.

We go to the Surrey Explorers meetings in Kingston and DS quite enjoys them. It is an opportunity to get involved in things he would not normally do and discover new interests. He did some presenting and acting at one recently - he is not the type to volunteer, but I think the enthusiasm for the subject was infectious! We've always actively encouraged friendships outside school.

Everyone seems to 'fit' at these meetings as there is a diverse range of children and interests. DS does not shout 'genius' either.

I think everyone, by definition here, will be able to empathise with the situation for you and your son - finding soul mates is going to be harder for high potential children as the friendship pool is potentially more limited. It may not affect them at all stages and many learn to adapt but I am sure for many children, at some point, things are a little bit more difficult for them.

Chillikate - we're off to the big family weekend too!

chillikate Fri 25-Oct-13 16:58:20

Maybe see you there. I've often wondered if the trip to Kingston with worth it for our DS. Hes only 7. Is it aimed at older ones??

wombler Fri 25-Oct-13 17:22:01

Hi Chillikate

No, it is not particularly aimed at older children; there are certainly 11 year olds there, but many in the 7,8,9 age group too.

Interesting topics coming up include: The history of aviation and puzzling science. Infact, at the next meeting on 3 November, there is going to be a presentation by Dr Wenda Sheard (she is a potential plus uk committee member) to the parents, whilst the children get engaged in fun chemistry experiments (or similar, I have not got details in front of me).

Kingston is also a great place for a stroll along the river or a lazy sunday lunch too, if you wanted to make a 'bit of a day' of it (not to mention the great shops)!

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