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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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Are you educational psychologists? If so I have a question

Resolved Question:

Hi - are you educational psychologists? If so I have a question

The school informs me my child is a little slow in social and emotional development and communication for problem solving, I feel the following is appropriate going forward.

At the moment he is in a mixed class of reception and Year 1 and I would like him to progress to next class with the majority of friends as opposed to minority as I feel new school children joining his class will not be good for him as they will also be shy and reserved when starting school. He also knows all children in next class

The next class teacher is also a male and he gets on better with male teachers. Academically there is no problem and I feel a male teacher may bring him on.

What do you think and how can the school teachers promote my child's social skills and also communicate with peers for problem solving.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

It is not unusual for a male child to have some difficulties with social interactions. I can say that in the vast majority of cases however this issue, if treated early and well, can be fully resolved.

Here is what is considered best practice for this circumstance.

  • It is good that he is able to be moved with the majority of his class. This familiarity with the other students is a much more effective base than if he was introduced to a large number of new students. However, as most younger children bond to only 3-5 students in a class, and know the others far more casually, it is key that your son have some input into who he is near, physically, in the classroom. If he can identify 3-5 students that he likes, or relates to, these children should be seated near him, and your son should be seated centered in the classroom, not in the front or the back. This position allows the greatest opportunity to see and model social behaviors and is how most children learn basic peer social skills.


  • The teacher: I am glad to hear that it is a male teacher, if your son does relate better to males. The teacher should use, ideally, a teaching method that is both lecture and peer learning style. Lev Vygotsky is considered one of the key researchers in this area of peer learning, and your son's teacher will in all likelihood be very familiar with the small group learning (peer model) that Vygotsky recommends. This method allows the teacher to lecture, then turns the material over to exercises that the other students "peer learn". This method improves social skills, and with the usual 50/50 balance of females and males in these groups, it also allows the boys the opportunity to witness the typically superior social skills of the girls, often resulting in better modeling behaviors.

My own son struggled in this area of development as well. However, encouraging the teachers to use peer teaching models helped tremendously, as did having him exposed to both sexes in these groups. Also, being centered in the classroom, with peers he relates to, or at least likes, is highly beneficial.

Lastly, out of school activities that require movement combined with social interaction, such as sports, are also extremely helpful. With ongoing reinforcement and care this situation has an excellent chance of resolving completely.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.


Thank you for your information - it has been very helpful!

My son by the way is not 5 until July and he has been to after school football for four weeks now. I do feel though that if you push my son he will back off and thats why I want it to come naturally more than forced by him being assessed too early.

My son's interaction seems to be classroom based. He does however have two other settings for after school at childminders and a holiday club both of which have the same views that he does interact which is what the school are saying he doesnt do.

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

I agree that pressing your son to perform in sports, etc would not be a good idea. A little push/pressure is often good, but forcing just creates resistance, and at worst, fear. That is completely undesirable obviously.

As far as the other settings vs the school classroom:

School is a much more competitive and intimidating environment than an after school program or holiday club. As a result, your son's social skills may appear more pronounced in the school environment than these other settings. However, I can say that it is a terrific sign that he shows this issue only in school, as this shows he has this problem, mildly.

I am very certain this will resolve, but enlist the teacher's help and intervention early on. That is key, and success for your son will be almost assured if the teacher and school are involved. Steven

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

How far am I allowed to use this information at the school? My son is currently under review in June/July and then into the first term into year 1. I find out in three weeks whether he is moving up as the decision has already been made. I suspect as a young one they will keep him behind. I am not sure looking at the class if the ones that they keep behind will be of benefit to my son apart from one. I am worried they are going to hold him back as the decision is now out of everyone's hands as they have already done it. They however knew how I felt. I have said that if they dont move him up I would like him to do a trial in the next class with the male teacher which I do not think is unreasonable. What do you think?

My son's decision to go to football was his choice. However forcing social interaction in the classroom I feel is not a good idea as he will back off.

This side of six weeks holiday we have left it and will seek intervention in the new school new year should he need it after review in October.

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

I think you should be a vocal advocate for your son. That is what it usually takes to get what is needed and desired for our children.

Schools are far from perfect and often we as parents must do what we need to do to make good things happen. Do not let what is planned by the school become the outcome if you do not want it. There is always the ability to appeal if need be. That is your right as a parent. I have to admit that our school's counselors dread my phone calls about my children. Yet, I have managed to get them the best of the best teachers and classrooms and programs. That is often what it takes.

I would use all the resources you can, including a copy of this conversation if it helps.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you. I have already put a letter in writing to the school with my concerns. They actually raised this issue at parents evening (10 min timeframe). They however declined a meeting with us in favour of a letter! I have usually been right up to now where my son is concerned and want to stick to my guns. I know intervention has to be with our consent which I will withhold until I am happy!

By the way do all educational psychologists see things the same or can you get different opinions?

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.
Each professional has different thoughts, though the principles by which we are instructed are similar. So, opinions should be relatively consistent. You can continue to appeal until you are satisfied. I would. Steven
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you. Academically he is great but had this affected him differently I would have looked at it differently.

How can I promote my son sharing more in social interaction. He still hates sharing.

If I need to contact you again how do I do it?

I am hoping this will help my son so further intervention is not required in October.

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

Many boys, especially, hesitate to share. Ideally, the concept of sharing is understood socially via reinforcement by parents and caregivers.

Simply, it is not made an option until the child recognizes the social need of doing so. Simply said: It is made an obligation. And, when it is not done, there are warnings and consequences. That may sound contradictory, as this method is not in the spirit of "sharing", but children, including those delayed socially in some way, do not easily grasp this concept. They do however if it is made a "rule" and not an optional action.

Thank you ahead of time for the accept. A pleasure helping you today.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
One last question - how can I stop his frustration when he is problem solving and gets stuck?
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.

You can't really stop frustration, as this is a natural part of any learning process. But, you can point out to him that trying is progress and that it is normal and natural to have any new skill take time.

I found that encouraging breaks when I saw frustration mounting, and being positive when the child was not was simple, yet effective. In some cases where the child was very discouraged, a large reinforcement (reward) was used to keep them on task. A star chart, where stickers are used to keep track of progress is very good. And, stickers can be given for the most minor of successes. And, ten of them gains a reward, etc. Steven

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I appreciate all your advice especially as you.don't know my son. The school did say if they get an ep involved it can be way of telephone conversation or ep observing my.son. he does seem to come home more now saying he has bn playing with so and so in classroom and so and so on fingers crossed.
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 5 years ago.
Sometimes children do not follow the nice, neat rules of human development and choose instead to grow at his/he own rate. Seeing that there is change occurring and hearing that he is playing with others is a great sign. Steven
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