This patient support community is for discussions relating to the challenges of parenting children (age 6-12), including physical development, handling school & classes, emotional development, cognitive development, and games and activities.
My 6 year old son is extremely shy and very emotional. At school they did an assesment test and he refused to do it, he curled up into a little ball and shy'ed away. His teacher told me today. He has been to occupational therapy which has helped a lot, except with the emotional side. He refuses to answer when asked a question. He has friends at school and they play nicely together. He also has a 4 year old brother who he fights with alot, or will tease him by taking a toy away. Or he is demanding and will tell his brother that he can't do this or that or eat this or that, etc, etc. His brother is outgoing, friendly and very active. I feel like i am getting angrier by the day. I am feeling like a bad mom and keep asking myself where did i go wrong ending my thoughts in tears. I have taken away his computer games in hopes it will help a bit until I can see some improvement. I was adviced to take him to play therapy, but it is so expensive at the moment we can't afford it unless we take the 4 year old out of school for a few months. His father and I have spoken to him and asked why he does not answer when the teacher asks him a question and he said that his heart beats fast and everything just flies all over and he forgets the answer even though he knows the answer. He gets like this in groups. He is fine one on one. If someone has any suggestions on what I can do to help him open up more please any advice would help.. Thanks
I suspect your son is suffering from anxiety. I might suggest you google the phrase "anxiety and children" or "behaviors of anxiety in children" or similar words/phrases. There is lots and lots of information on the internet which should be of help. In addition, there are many books which can help you ("Parenting Your Anxious Child" by Katharina Manassis is one example) - in your local library. Perhaps even your school district might have some information re this topic.
If anxiety is the issue, then taking away a child's toys or reprimanding him will not work. The thing that does work is to "lessen the anxiety" - this is why your son is unable to answer the teacher or complete the assessment test (note I said "unable" not "refused"). He is scared (although probably a perceived fear and one that makes no sense to us or him; nonetheless, it is a very real fear to your son). First, I would suggest that you learn about this issue,and then educate his teacher. Often just the teacher saying to the child - "It's O.K. if you do not wish to answer the question" will remove a lot of pressure to speak and interact and school becomes less scary.
Children with anxiety also tend to be inflexible and demanding as they try to control their environment (they're scared of the unknown so it is not intentional) - you are seeing this in the interactions of your two children. You did not go "wrong" - anxiety is a genetic trait (just like blue eyes or red hair) but, it is quite common and your son can learn how to "manage" his fears. Someday he will be fine. Let me know if I can be of further help - I wish you the best ....
It sounds to me as if your older son has jealousy about the younger one, I hear a lot of praises for the younger child here perhaps your 6 year old is feeling left out, that would account for him teasing the younger child, this is very common whre the eldest child is left out when a new sibling comes alond.It may be a good idea to have someone to one time with just him and get Dad playing ball games..focus on his postive side and praise him when you see him doing something good, some good books out there will help with Child/parent interaction ..read Lynn Clarks SOS help for parents ...try it give him exrtra attention and see what happens ...
thanks for your advice. jdtm this is what the occupational therapist says too and adviced me to take him to play therapy, but they so expensive, the only way i can do that is if i take my youngest out of school for a few months, but the school i am putting him in next year of grade00 requires him to be in a playgroup for a year before he can start there. Thanks for the advice I will diffinately look into the books, etc.
margypops: we don't signal him out. we do a lot of things with him. I even have one on one time with him just me and him going to the movies eating out and going to the arcade. each night as a family we will play a board game with both boys. Him and his dad share the same interest (computers) and they do a lot of computer things together play games and do other things besides computers. If any we feel we praise him a bit too much at times. academically he is very clever. His teacher says he is one of the top students in her class, but when it comes to orals or answering questions in his the class he freezes and curls up in a ball. He could write his name before he was 3 something his brother (4) still cannot do. We try and not force them to do things even if one can do it and the other can't we let them go their own pace. its not always easy, but we do our best. The occupational therapist said that he takes his frustration out on his brother because he does not know how to filter his emotions when he is in a difficult situation. At the moment we have a clingy crying 4 year old who is usually not like that.
On a happier not though my son did very well the last 3 days. I have taken away him playing games if he does not speak in class. If the teacher tells me that he spoke he gets to play 30 minutes a day any game he wants. So far it is working, the rewarding him. Today the teacher said he answered even more question then what he did 3 days ago, here is hoping he keeps it up.
Thanks again for all your advice, it is really a comfort to be able to share and get advice that can possibly help.
If it is any consolation, play therapy is usually not worth the money. The same results can be obtained from having playdates in your home, beginning with one child from your son's class and then perhaps working up to two or three children over the course of several months or a year. Also, taking your child to the park and allowing him to interact with other children (note that he may not play with any other children for some time - in our case, it took years before our child would actually play with other kids). Another idea would be to take your son to McDonald's (especially those with play areas) or even the mall. If possible, visit neighbours, friends, relatives often - especially those with children. Often organizations as Sunday School or swimming class or a sports team is beneficial - just don't expect too much interaction at first. The purpose is to socialize, socialize and socialize.
I'm surprised that your son is answering more questions at school - usually bribing an anxious child does not work so I might suggest you not push this idea too much. I would also not punish him for not participating in school - the thing that works is to "lessen his anxiety" and putting pressure on him "to talk" will only increase his fears/anxieties. Some of the reading on the internet and in books which you obtain from local libraries re the topic of anxious children should offer some suggestions. You might wish to google the phrase "reduce anxiety in children" or "helping children with anxiety" or similar words/phrases to read more about this. Each child is different and thus, various "things" help - the reason I'm not listing ideas or plans for your son. As I said before, someday he will be fine. Write if you feel that I might be of additional help. All the best ....
After reading this, I was just going to say that you can model the same thing at home as a play group with a professional does. Maybe one time doing it to get some ideas or use above info or google yourself. We've done occupational therapy for 2 years --------- at this point. Well honestly, I could run my own occupational therapy clinic. I do so much of the stuff at home that actual OT is a bonus. So consider some well thought out and put together play groups. One note. I have two sons---------- 6 and just turned 5. I try to have other plans for my 5 year old so I can focus on helping my 6 year old during the play date. Good luck
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