The oldest of our three boys is 9 years old, (younger brothers are 7 and 5). His birthday is in the end of July, which makes him a young fourth grader. He is a the youngest in his class. His grades are excellent and he is among a group of children who are taken from their regular class to be part of a gifted and talented class. His teacher in this gifted class has commented that his intellectual scores, compared to his emotional scores, and maturity are like peaks and valleys. My husband and I have noticed that his behavior seems MUCH more socially immature than other boys, and especially girls in his class. He makes spontaneous noises and squeaks, speaks in accents and perseverates on silly comments made by others, or from cartoons, which might provoke a laugh. These verbal noises and behaviors last longer than they should, and he seems to maintain them as long as other boys are laughing. He has been penalized in his classroom a few times for these inappropriate disruptions and he becomes upset about that consequence, for the moment. His behavior is more severe out of school in social situations with friends. For example, we carpooled him with a group of friend to a movie, all of the boys were laughing and behaving somewhat immaturely, but ours kept it going much longer and carried it too far, it was obvious by looking in the rear view mirror that the other boys were annoyed by him. He seems to be very interested in being "funny" and "well liked". He is usually invited to events and seems well liked among his peers. However, lately, it seems the disparity between his behavior and others is becoming more evident and he has been left out of a few social group activities. He seems to be academically on one level and socially on a much different level. He almost seems unaware of how others are perceiving him. Ironically, he is apathetic and very much not interested in either of his two younger brothers who would love to have his attention,and in fact, seems unable to tolerate them, at all. When prompted by my husband or me to have appropriate social behavior, i.e, in restaurants or synagogue, his behavior can be great. We know he is capable of understanding how he "should" behave, but seems unable to control it with peers. We are worried about his desire to fit in and the ramifications of peer pressure at this early age. He loves reading and we have encouraged books about boys his age whose characters are empathatic and mature, (Hardy Boys, To Kill A Mockingbird, etc.) We have also tried to arrange social situations with other families who have older boys, from whom he might observe more appropriate social behavior.
What might you suggest to urge along his social maturity skills, and when does the disparity between his academic performance and his social behavior become a problem. Also, any suggestions or parameters for how well he should get along with his two younger brothers.
The disparity between your son's cognitive development and his social/emotional development has already become a problem. It can be useful for such children to participate in social problem-solving or social skills groups. You can check with his school, local child guidance clinics, your insurance company for resources. Also, be sure he's enrolled in outside-of-school, structured peer pursuits (scouts, YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Jewish Community Center, e.g.). The more opportunities he has for such interaction the more he will learn from the feedback he receives.
On the family front, if there are opportunities for the children to engage in some play activities together, take advantage of them. But refrain from trying to push or force interaction - it'll likely exacerbate the problem. The different developmental levels of the children limit the possibilities to some extent.
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