Nice to hear from you again. Thank you for requesting me.
True, I do not know your son personally, but I worked with many, many boys his age, have a boy very near his age myself... and have struggled with issues like this with my own children.
First things first: Boys present their own unique issues in parenting. And, contrary to a lot of psychological material that I have read they seem very easy to parent in some areas but hard in others. The hardest area: Social expectation of maturity. (More on this in second.)
Some boys just seem to struggle tremendously with social-educational demands. They act shy, even reclusive, reluctant to try new things, and sometimes seem afraid of experiences that at their ages should be easy to face....Well, as a parent, sometimes you just wonder if everything is okay or not.
My take on this.
I feel you made a very good choice to hold your son back. He will benefit greatly from the added time he now has to mature and develop emotionally. And that is what I feel is being shown here, simple maturity issues, not a significant developmental problem.
Why? He likes to do things outside, with the people he chooses, so overall socialization is good. But he shows some emotional immaturity, like crying and having a difficult time with a social demand like first day of school or participation in a parentally desired activity. This is sometimes referred to as a emotional dysregulation related to maturity. In simple terms, he is younger than his chronological years in his ability to regulate his emotions.
Is this some thing to be worried about? Not really. I am almost willing to bet the farm that this issue will be greatly diminished with maturity and that he grows up to be a sensitive and intelligent man. The traits he is showing seem in line with an introspective personality, and those types tend to be a bit slower to mature and respond to social requests than the more overt types. But, by the time he is a young adult he will should be stellar, of that I have little doubt.
What to do in the meantime? Nothing wrong with reinforcement of "social courage". If you do this thing, son, you will get this reward. That pattern is life quite honestly, and there is nothing wrong with an application of reward for a desired behavior as long as it is used occasionally and reserved for larger goals.
He does not sound at all like he has self esteem issues. Instead, he seems a bit anxious to me, a personality that underneath all the seeming insecurity is actually quite demanding of his own performance. I would guess he is actually quite concerned with how he performs, and tries to simplify his social choices so he does not disappoint you or himself. A new opportunity to you may be a big stressor to him because he is not sure he can succeed. But time will cure that problem, and as far as being abnormal? Not at all. He is fairly typical for a good percentage of boys. I have seem this, a lot.
He does need structure at home. Rules and following process at home is good for his maturity. Praise, from you and others, is needed as well. But he must earn it and that comes by making some home expectations, iron clad. But some have to be more flexible, especially those outside of the home. That is because he is a boy, and forcing him to be more extroverted is rough. Boys will often rebel or withdraw if this bar is set too high. And, at seven, he has years left in him to work through these more complex social issues.
Some boys tend to avoid organized social exchanges like the proverbial dentist, yet they do need some of them in their lives. So, an event or two that is required is not a bad idea. But, for a good while, those events should be group events. Solo activities such as talent shows and similar can take the confidence right out of a boy rather than increase it. But group activities, no issues there. And, like it or not, he should have some exposure to them.
Your parenting style sounds well balanced and secure. Those two things are terrific and encourage social maturity and emotional balance. I think you can relax about your style of parenting causing any of these struggles. Honestly, all children should be so fortunate, as you give him both slack and structure, which is what children need.
BotXXXXX XXXXXne: Your son seems like he has some issues with brain maturity, specifically prefrontal cortex control. No big deal. About 1/3 of boys do anyway. So foster that in increase in maturity with organized structure; some demand for social activity (if he can choose one choice between two + activities, the better.) And continue to praise and encourage him. I feel he is sensitive to his own performance so so not hesitate to tell him that he is valued no matter what. But time here is his best friend. As he grows he will mature out of this phase and will stabilize into a thoughtful and caring young man.
As a final thought: Some research shows that Omega 3 Fatty Acid helps speed brain maturity in boys. Some studies contradict this. But as s children often find a way to avoid this substance in their diets it doesn't hurt to ask a pediatrician if he could take a daily dose. My one child does and I feel it has helped him. It is worth asking about. You are doing well and I see no issues with parenting. Keep steady and time will do the rest here.
My personal best to you and your family. Steven
Well thank you for the feedback and the bonus.
And yes...I am a real therapist with clients and all. lol This site is a way for me to earn some extra, as it allows me to work when I have computer access and a few moments. And, all that I told you about my family is real as well.
It is not easy to take a direction with your children that is atypical, such as holding your child back a grade. Extended families often balk at those kind of choices, but this one was a good one and well thought through. And letting a child find his/her own way, as if they suddenly could find a direction on their own, that just doesn't happen. Parents at your son's age have to act on the child's behalf. You did, and it was a solid choice that will pay off in the long run.
Your extended family may not understand the full story, but then again, they are not seeing him everyday. You do, and you love him best. And I cannot imagine you would make a bad choice for your son. Right?
Grades K-2 the children are very egocentric. They tend not to pick on other children very much, and your son will soon blend in easily with the rest, if not already. As far as what he should tell everyone: Have him tell the truth, that the school and his family felt he started school too young and this is the right grade for him at his age. That is the truth and it has nothing to do with his intelligence. Again, this will be totally forgotten in a week or two and he will be just another student in the class if it has not occurred already.
Anxiety is expected the first week of school, and as an intervention I would tell him it is normal and totally okay. Sometimes all children need is a reassurance that he/she is fine. If the anxiety goes beyond two weeks you can have him talk about it with you and pinpoint the areas that are most worrisome. When he hits a worrisome area, have him talk it out, a lot. Over and over. The constant exposure of the fear reduces the anxiety enough in children that the trauma tends to go level to a reasonable level.
I really do not see this as something that will become a major problem for him and I doubt past a week or so that he will even be concerned. You did do the right thing and your son will be in a much better place, both emotionally and physically as a result. If you see issues in the next few weeks, write me again and we will revisit this, but I feel he will do well. Steven
It seems your son is doing very well.
Minor emotional and behavioral adjustments to new school situations are so normal that in clinical psychology, for children, no concern is noted unless adjustment problems go beyond thirty days. Your son is not showing any significant adjustment issues: (sleep disturbance, crying spells, nightmares, phobias, etc) and seems like he getting along excellently. A few days, even two weeks, of being a little down emotionally is no cause for concern. It is expected.
And as far as complaining about school and going because he has to, I have three children, each in different schools; high school, middle school and elementary, and all three of them say these types of things on a regular basis. I would say that your son's response is pretty normal, even typical. Let's face it. A few kids love school and want to go all the time. Most do not, and even the best students say these negative things about school. I did, and even faked illnesses and the whole lot to avoid school at times. (Must be a boy thing!)
I know what you mean about wanting to check in all the time with him...Are you okay son? Anybody talk to you about repeating the grade? But realistically, at this point, unless he brings it up I would let it drop as a subject. In a few weeks you could bring it up, very casually, but if he is already showing this level of adjustment; I would just let it go until then.
He will be asked by his peers for a little while why he is not in 2nd grade. That is expected. As long as he appears good with it, his peers, both present as well as the older ones, will be okay with it too. Again, these are younger children, and much more forgiving than the 4th grade (+) crew. I would take the inquiries by peers as simple curiosity. The more he accepts them and treats this as all normal, the easier it will be for him.
Treat this entire situation as totally normal as well. Act fine with it and he will accept it readily too.
Sometimes boys (especially boys) need to see that expectations are set in stone and that there is no wiggle room, for boys are notorious in their ability to try to find an "out". But if there is none, and he knows he has to go to school and that this is what the year will look like, he will quickly adjust. You may struggle more with this than he is, but that is also expected for as good parents we regularly question our choices with our children. But honestly: I see no problems in what you have said here. He is adjusting and should rapidly come to fully accept school and his new classmates and circumstances. Again, you made a good choice, and it was made with detailed thought and had his best interest at heart. Steven
Hi Steve... Awful awful morning... I really felt like I wasn't going to have to ask you anymore questions for a while. My son did really great the first week of school. He did tell me that he still doesn't want to go to school but he knows he has to and has something good to tell me that he did at school or something(s) good that happened to him at school. He overall comes home happy and I never bring up the whole repeating 1st grade to him anymore. This morning on our way out the door to walk to school, he overheard me tell my younger daughter to get ready for our walk (because her and I going walking in with the stroller every morning after I drop off my son at school). It triggered my son that he doesn't want to go to school and wants to come with us. I told him no and that he needs to go to school and he and I can go on a walk or ride back when he gets back. He cried all the way to school and wouldn't walk inside his class. I was trying to be firm with him (because I was so irritated), but tried talking to him with a 'reasonable' tone of voice. I asked him why he's having such a hard time to go today and he said school is so long and boring. By then the school bell rang 5 minutes ago. So I walked in his class and apologized to his teacher. I told her I don't want to give into him and take him home but I don't want to disturb her class with him all upset. She was nice and said to bring him in and she's sure he'll be fine once he settles in. But she nicely told me that she's worried about him because he always finishes his work so quickly, then he's bored, and she tries to find other more challenging work to give him (which I don't know what the extent is to that), but that because he's advanced, she can kind of foresee this trend with him will continue throughout the year. I briefly explained to her that I knew there would be a little of this because obviously a lot of this is review for him and academics had nothing to do with my decision to hold him back... It was his social/emotional/maturity, etc.... and that's why I held him back. She said that it's not too late to put him in 2nd grade. Class had already started and I didn't want to take her away from her class any longer so I told her if we could finish thiss discussion after school, and she kindly said yes. At that time, my son also told me that maybe he can go to second grade because some kids laugh at him. He had never brought that up before and I'm assuming he chose to tell me that right then since he was feeling so upset about school and wanted to start telling me reasons why he doesn't want to go. I'm sure you can hear the scared in my voice. I don't want to make any rash decisions just because my son's crying.
How can I convince him that this is good for him? How can I convince him to not worry about what other kids say to him about repeating 1st grade?
If his teacher is willing, I would want to get a solid game plan with her... Maybe to have 2-3 things that my son can CHOOSE to do after he finishes his work early (do one of his favorite activities/centers/crafts in the class, do an academic program or game on the computer, give him a task, etc...) What incentives will work? "Son, if you finish your work early and can quietly do a different project and behave in class, then we can have your favorite dinner every Friday or go to the beach every Saturday or pick out a small toy twice a month) I hate to resort bribes often but will it work here? PLEASE HELP!
Hello, sorry there is a rough patch going on now, but I will help you get through this.
Let's talk about the stages of typical adjustment.
Any adjustment starts with a period of assessment, followed by minor acceptance of the situation, then resistance. The cycle repeats until the person going through the adjustment has longer and longer periods of acceptance. Finally acceptance is reached and remains. This takes in a situation like your son's a few weeks, and unless it exceeds a solid month, is really quite normal.
Some days are worse than others in this process, and he is right at the age where conversations about unfairness and inequity are common as the form of resistance. This is to be expected, and he, as a child, will not play fair...accessing your feelings of fear and uncertainty about this change. That pattern is very common, and children are much more insightful in this way (seeing our weaknesses) than we give them credit.
Teasing may occur a little, but the critical thing is for him to stick to his story and act as though he is not at all concerned. As he does this more and more he will become far less of a novelty. This will pass.
He is academically ahead due to the grade change, and it is also expected that he will be bored. After all, the first few weeks of teaching is a review of easier topics so the teacher can get a feel for the baseline of the class. Your son is off the scale of the baseline, and as a result is noticeable to the teacher. Without a doubt he needs additional material to do, and the teacher should support this as he was not held back for academic reasons but maturity. I would insist on this with her.
I also want to encourage you that rewarding him is not bribery. It is simply reinforcement, and is the way the entire world operates. We do things for reward and the pleasure of it. Long range goals have to have reinforcers and doing so is not a bad idea. Indeed, your particular ideas are very good.
The second grade plea: This decision was made for long term gain. Yes there will be some discomfort and adjustment in the beginning. But in the years to come, especially when he hits 11-13 years this will pay off, big time. The minor comments that he gets now about being held back is nothing in comparison to what a smaller, younger, more vulnerable boy might experience in the hands of his older peers.
The gain is worth what was done.
Yes, some latitude about schoolwork and similar may be needed, and the first weeks will be harder for all. But he is already showing mastery of the material; his abilities and intelligence is marked, and he is equal to these children in physical maturity as well. This is the root of future leadership and position (for him) and will make his life in school, overall throughout the grades of school, much better.
How can you convince him this is a great idea? Not fully I am afraid, as he does not have the insight he needs at his age. You will have to make these decisions for him. You can explain it as you have, and reinforce his patience, but the resolve will have to be yours. Although difficult, tears and so forth will have to be given little regard until he settles in more.
This is rocky, but it is this rougher transition stage that will allow him to adjust, and this pattern will repeat in most cases, with less and less intensity until he is okay with the idea.
He will have to shape his own reaction to the teasing. He will adapt, and he will learn to mask his emotions and be okay with the change. Again as the strangeness of this wears off, all involved will accept it; teacher, previous peers and your son. This is a bad patch of road, nothing more. It will pass. Steven
It is nice to hear an update about you and your son. Thank you.
It is terrific that your son is doing well. He clearly is very motivated and willing to deal with school and the teacher and the work. The fact that the teacher sees that he is a better match to his peers is also excellent. These are all signs of adjustment, and I can see that this was indeed a very good move for your son.
Peer teasing. This will abate. There is only so much focus and interest that will come from a peer repeating a grade. After awhile, even children grow to see the folly of teasing about this subject (more on this in a second).
Ignoring the teasing is still good advice. And no; it is not easy for any child of your son's age to simply cope. Like all of us, learning to manage difficult situations is a maturing and growing experience. It is painful to watch that process in our children, and sometimes it makes us second guess what we have placed them into. But as said before, the choice you made will limit the teasing and much more serious issues that might occur if he was the youngest child in his class.
If this "teasing" goes beyond a few more weeks (mid sept) then the issue is not just teasing but possibly bullying, which is a totally different issue and requires the support of the school and you. But I have a feeling, based on what I am seeing here, that this is just teasing and will resolve.
As far as damage to his emotional health...no, I do not see anything other than an adjustment period. He will indeed need to learn how to deal with these other kids; he will not like it, but the experience will mature him, not hurt him. Just keep an eye open for any signs of bullying, such as any physical confrontations, outright verbal abuse and so on.
But again, based on what I am hearing here; he is well on his way to adjusting to this very well thought out change. I think you can relax. There is good news here and aside from watching your son and encouraging him, you are on the right track, for certain. Steven