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Old 04-21-2015, 07:49 PM   #1
concernedMomm
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Default 4 year old with bad social skills

My 4 year old (almost 5) has been displaying horrible social skills. He does not like being around other children and is mean to them when he is around them. When at the park on busy days he refuses to play because the other children are there and he doesn't want them 'looking at him', as he says. He make mean faces and often growls at them or tells them he doesn't like them. I have tried everything we could think of to get him to want to be social and have no clue where to go from here. I am a single mom and his dad is not in the picture. I do not know if this is just a stage and he will move on from it or if this is a serious situation.. I only want my son to be the happy, bouncy toddler he was before. I am simply looking for advice before I consult a professional on his behavior. As a parent you want the best for your child, and not being able to make friends or want to make friends, is not the best... Thank you.
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Old 04-21-2015, 10:25 PM   #2
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Default Re: 4 year old with bad social skills

Is he in pre-school or kindergarten yet? Either way, this doesn't sound like he's behaving in a way that would be healthy for the class. Have you introduced him to other babies and toddlers when he was younger? If so, has he always been like this or is this recent? If he hasn't been around other's often it could be that he just doesn't know how to socialize with others. He could, also, be shy and not know how to deal with those feelings and how to react so he behaves in a way that all toddler and preschoolers do when they don't know, or have the ability, to express themselves properly.
He should see a behavioral specialist. You may have to bring him to his pediatrician for a referral. If you can, video tape him the next time he's in a social situation so you can show the doctor and specialist. Write notes of how he behaves before, during and after he has contact with other kids. You can also reach out to a local community health nurse since they can come to your house.
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Old 04-22-2015, 09:49 AM   #3
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Default Re: 4 year old with bad social skills

He is not in pre school. He has been around children alot and this is more of a recent thin, the past couple months. His real father had decided to make an appearance in his life and then disappeared a week later without any contact since. He hasn't seen him since he was 2. Since then he has been anti social and mean towards new people. He only wants to be around me and my boyfriend. (This man has raise him with me since my son was 2. The only real dad he knows.)
I have brought it up to his pediatrician multiple times but they assure me that this is just a phase and that he will grow put of it when he starts kindergarten.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:17 AM   #4
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Default Re: 4 year old with bad social skills

Sounds like trust issues. You should try to get a second opinion with a specialist. Is he enrolled for kindergarten yet? Do you know where his catchment school is? If so, you can still talk to the principal there or the guidance counsellor. Perhaps they have seen this before and provide further answers and solutions to prepare him for the transition.
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Old 04-22-2015, 10:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: 4 year old with bad social skills

The growling and not wanting to be seen by other kids is kind of odd, but poor social skills in a four-year-old is typical. They haven't learned to navigate social situations, especially if they don't have siblings. And even if they do, it's rough because not everyone acts like their siblings. Just think about every time there is a conflict between what he wants or expects, and what another child does. That is very frustrating. We can navigate it as adults because we have a complex system of rules that we have rehearsed for years. If someone is in your way in traffic, it's mildly annoying, but you are used to it and you know what is expected of you and what is expected of them. You know you can't run into them or zip around them, and you also know they won't stop in the middle of the road or change their mind and back up into you, etc. Imagine if you had always had the road to yourself, no traffic laws, and now someone is in your way. You wouldn't know how to deal with it, and you just wouldn't want to be there. I imagine it's a similar feeling for him. He probably had an encounter where another child was in his way or interrupting his play, or looking at him in a way that isn't what he is used to from adults, and it's aggravating.

Perhaps you could prepare him for some of these encounters. Practice saying "hi" and challenge him to find one kid to say hi to when you first arrive at the park. Discuss what kinds of faces he is allowed to make at other kids (smiles, not frowns). Don't pile on too many rules, but give him a few things to think about and plan for, so he can go the park prepared to practice one or two specific social skills. It shouldn't overwhelm him, and it just might summon a positive reaction that makes him feel better about going there. Don't assume that social skills are common sense. They aren't. They are very much learned. He can't know what to do and what not to do without instruction, and the more specific the better.
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Old 04-27-2015, 06:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: 4 year old with bad social skills

You say that his biological father made an appearance and then left. I would think that this is the source of the problem. Even at 4, children can be affected greatly from rejection, and he may consider his father leaving a sign of rejection. I agree that this is a temporary behavioral problem, if you do something about it now. Sit him down and talk to him about it, explain to him how much you and your boyfriend care for him and that you'll always be there for him, this will reassure him that he wont receive the same fate from you that he did from his biological father. I assume that he is also holding in a lot of anger, therefore allow him to explain to you how he is feeling, and offer him outlets for his anger, such as a stress toy or ball. My son is autistic and therefore we often have to work on his social encounters, something we use quite frequently and which are of great help are social stories. Just google this and you'll find a range of videos, show these to your son to ensure that he understands how to behave when interacting with other kids, if you haven't done so already. Once you have watched the videos together, carry out some role playing activities in order to show him, once more, the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. If this type of behavior continues to persist, I'd get a professionals opinion.
Good luck!
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