I have an 8 year old daughter. She is in second grade. She gets straight A's and has never been in trouble in school.
I'm concerned about her social development. The thing that catches my attention most is her behavior towards strangers. She always prefers strangers over people she knows. If we go to the park with friends she will not play with the friends we came with (or her brother), she is only interested in playing with strangers. She has always done this. She is also, overly friendly towards adults, especially men. If a man speaks to her she will not leave him alone after that. Ignoring other kids or competing with them, even his own children, to get his attention.
She also makes people uncomfortable with touching. Not in a sexual way, just in a personal space way. Again, it is most obvious with grown men, I guess because they are the most uncomfortable with it. But even with kids her own age. She will hug someone she just met, and it's clear they don't want to be hugged. She even makes me uncomfortable sometimes. Rubbing my arm during dinner, or sitting way too close on the couch even after I've asked her to back up. If she is within arms length she is touching you. We even have a family friend who has said he can't be around her anymore because she makes him so uncomfortable.
She doesn't have any close friends. I remember being 8 and having sleep overs and best friends, but she has never even played with another kid after school. We have tons of kids in our neighborhood but she doesn't seem interested in playing with them. She is very bossy when she is playing with other kids.
A couple more things...
She seems to have trouble understanding how things relate to one another. For example, she has a lot of trouble with money, that 4 quarters equal one dollar.
She still ***** her thumb at night, and would do it during the day until recently. The only reason she stopped during the day is because she started twirling her hair. She just twirls and twirls. The sides of her hair are always all crazy because they have been twisted million times. She will even get both sides going when she is really stressed or zoned out.
She just doesn't seem to want to grow up. She says she wishes she was still a baby. She often says how she wishes she could go back to kindergarten or how better her 3 year old brother has it. She loves it when you do stuff for her, even if she is perfectly able to do it herself. For example, her grandma still gives her baths, like a little baby. And she loves it.
One last thing, her physical strength is very low. She doesn't ride a bike because she can't peddle it. She can peddle once it's going but she can't start it. She is uncoordinated. Her run is awkward and slow. She gets beat by at least half the distance when she races with another kid her age.
Am I making too much of this stuff? Or do you think something could be wrong?
I would say that most of her physical problems are due to lack of practice. Starting a bike is the hardest part. Running is natural for some kids and not for others. If she doesn't run much when she plays, then she won't be good at it. Unfortunately, that also prevents her from wanting to be involved in running games. It may be that most of the kids in your neighborhood are involved in active games and your daughter is more interested in quiet, studious things. Working with money is also a practice thing. Kids of her age don't know fractions. Only way for her to know 4 quarters = 1$ would be by practice.
You didn't mention a husband. Is he not around at all? Or does your daughter have visiting rights? Only reason I mentioned this is that the first part sounds like she is missing her Daddy, which would be a natural response. If you do have a husband around, then it doesn't make quite as much sense. She does seem a little starved for attention. Having a 3 year old brother around can cause that. I know that 3 year old boys take a lot more attention then a 8 year old girl.
I would talk with her teacher and see if she sees any of the same things that you worry about. You might find that there is another girl in the class she gets along with and you could work on that relationship. And I would probably try and give her a bit more attention - for some reason it kinda sounds like she needs it. Hope this helps - although a lot of it is guessing and trying to fill in a few bits of missing info.
Hello, I wanted to add to the physical characteristics of your daughter. She may have "low tone" which is a term occupational therapists use often. This is basically weak core muscle strength (and I might have this too . . . based on a recent sit up experience). My son has some of this and we've improved it by working on a few things. He couldn't hang from a monkey bar for more than a second and was very resistent to it. We called it "challenges" and I would get him up there and he would hang for a second and then drop into my arms so it wasn't scary. We just did it over and over whenever there was an opportunity. He is the monkey bar champ now and can do them with ease. I'm telling you, we counted the seconds for a year on the monkey bars and he could do 1 then 2 and so on until now where he has no issue with this. They have the zip lines now at playgrounds which are a fun way to use these muscles---- just push her along until she can do it. Also important is laying on her stomach to do things. Play a game with her and say that everyone has to play the game on their tummy or color with her on stomachs. Using an easle to do things also works on core strength and anything she has to hang onto like a tire swing. These are just ideas to give her that core strength which will make all physical activies easier. Bike riding is a bit hard for some kids----- practice will help. If gross and fine motor tasks that are unfamiliar to her are always difficult and hence she avoids them, motor planning difficulties could be the reason. Even the slightest issue with this can cause things to be harder than for others.
I absolutely agree that she sounds like she is looking for dad attention. We did some social skills training recently with our son and here are a couple of things to try. Get pictures of close family, friends, aquaintences (like someone in the background of a picture that she would recognize but isn't close to) and strangers. Sit her down and use tape or string and make three lines out in front of her. Have her identify the pictures first and then put strangers behind the line fartherest away. Next go aquaintences (classmates here) and then family and closest people by first line. Give her the boundaries. We hug people at the first line, we can touch the arm of someone on the second line, we only smile and wave at those at the third line. Role play it. For personal space awareness----- get a swim tube (one of those rings that go around you while in the pool) or a hula hoop and have her get inside it. Then you try to get in too. She'll see it is too close. Kids laugh at this. We call arms "robot arms" which is arms straight out in front----- that is the closest she should get to someone. I spent this summer saying "robot arms" to my son and he would immediately step back. It is significantly better now.
As far as friends, is she wanting them? I think sometimes we parents want things with our kids without checking how they feel. Is she sad or lonely or content as it is? This is important because she will be much more motivated to change things if she is the one who wants it. I think brownies are awesome at that age for girls. And I agree that the teacher and school counselor could be very helpful. They could help a new friendship blossom. Some schools actually have social groups for those wishing to make more friends.
And don't be upset that she isn't thrilled to play with 3 year old brother. He changed her life dramatically and I'm sure she loves him, but they don't have much in common . . . give her some special attention away from him. Good luck!!
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