My 5 year old son (soon to be 6 in Feb.) does not seem to know how to socialize and act appropriately around other children. He is the oldest of 3, smart, normal weight and height, very verbal, has a wonderful imagination (can play for long periods by self, building things and making scenes etc.), and can be very loving. He had a PT eval. and that came back as within normal range; he could use some time getting out at a playground to build up his skills and strength. When asked to draw a picture, he drew a picture at a 7 1/2 year old level. He has severe sibling rivalry with his 4 year old brother (they're 19 months apart). When he is with other children, his age or not, he acts all crazy and hyper active. He is not very athletic or coordinated but that doesn't seem to bother him as he runs around, hooting and hollering. It's like he starts playing a game where he's a super hero but no one else is in on it. He'll talk jibberish, scream or screech and do the best he can to climb and jump around (but since he's not that coordinated he looks silly). The other kids look at him like he's strange and just ignore him most of the time. He likes to be the leader. If he follows another's game, when he gets to the point that he can't keep up or do what the kid is doing, he'll change the rule and do what's more fitting for him. Then he'll get angry and hurt when they don't play with him. Sometimes he gets into play fights with kids which concerns me. He has been trying so hard to gain a friend. He's always smiling and waving and saying hi to all that he knows, he even tries to get "high fives" from them, but they don't really know him that well and feel uncertain about what he wants or high fiving him back so they don't. This hurts his feelings and he internalizes this hurt, and usually has some angry outburst later (usually directed at me or his 4 year old brother). I've tried talking to him about his behavior and those of others, describing appropriate responses and how if other children can't identify with him and what he's playing, they won't want to play with him or think he's weird. (I defined weird as something different that they don't understand). I feel so bad for him and wish he had a best friend, a friend. Is he normal?
It sounds like he needs a lot more experience being around other kids so he won't act so hyper and out of control around children.
He also sounds like he might be touched with aspereger's type symptoms - kind of difficulty reading other kid's social cues.
It also sounds like he needs very specific information about how to attract other kids. My oldest son had sort of the difficulty you're talking about - and geez, he'd say "will you be my friend"? to other kids. I'm not kidding, he'd actually say that when he was four! Didn't work for Caspar the ghost, either.
When you go to a park, can you pack things for him to share that are really cool? Like those sparkler things you hold and push in the lever and it twirls around and sparks? Or cars you pull back and they zoom forward and race? I used to carry a little tackle box to the park with very cool stuff in it and that would get play started - cheap stuff that you really don't care if it gets broken or walks off.
He also sounds like a child who is unable to lose a game gracefully, and that he'll just have to grow out of. I've known kids who can't stand to lose at anything, and they just have to mature and realize they have to hide their frustration with losing. It's a growth thing.
In the meantime, you should probably try inviting very kind natured boys over one at a time for short play sessions that involve really fun activities, and let him develop friends one on one instead of in a group. Groups are very hard to navigate for some kids.
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