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I have a 7 y/o 2nd grade boy. He’s really talented academically, especially in the reading and writing areas, but he is lacking socially. I’ve noticed it when watching him at classroom events, the t-ball dugout, play dates, and other kinds of outings.

He has a hard time socializing with kids his own age, often times acting immature. He gets along well with adults, family, teachers, and kids younger than him too. He seems very eager to please. Sometimes though he interjects himself into adult conversations at inappropriate times with some immature comment or nonsense words. Maybe this is just attention seeking behavior?

But around kids his own age he either acts quiet and reserved or completely immature. Around his 4 y/o brother, he acts down to his age instead of being the more mature one at times. He also often easily gets upset and almost starts to cry. Sometimes we ask him why he is crying, and can’t come up with an explanation other than ‘I don’t know.’

Other thoughts: there was a few birthday parties in his class that he wasn’t invited too. There was a get together at a family friend’s house that we weren’t invited to following a poorly emotional playdate.

Also, I guess you could say my wife are a bit more strict as far as behavior expectations are concerned. I’m not sure how much this could play into the overall social interaction situation.

I’m not really sure where to beginning researching how to improve his social skills, or how to give him the right tools to better succeed in social avenues with kids his own age. A quick internet search popped up some results for Asberger’s Syndrome. I am far from an expert in this category, but my instinct doesn’t feel like this is a match. I don’t know that the spectrum is wide and varied, and perhaps this does need some more looking at.

We’ve asked his teacher, but she hasn’t given any useful input, and said he’s ‘normal’. I’m a teacher too, albeit for middle school age kids, but my wife and I are worried that he is going to end up lonely and friendless, in which he might end up unhappy and socially anxious for a long time.

Any idea of where to look for further help? Are we overthinking this?

  • Can you give some examples of the “immature” behaviour? – AsheraH Jan 2 at 5:48
  • "...my wife are a bit more strict as far as behavior expectations are concerned." This is unclear to me; does this mean you expect him to 'act his age'? What is your (pl.) reaction when he doesn't? – anongoodnurse Jan 2 at 14:37
  • @AsheraH The other day his friend who is a year older came over, and my son was over-excited. He started screaming nonsense words. He put the gummy bear song on extra loud and wanted to just started dancing. I understand that he is happy and excited, but the other kid was like is this kid serious? – FrancisJohn Jan 2 at 14:46
  • @anongoodnurse Yes, that’s pretty accurate. Sometimes at cub scouts or something we see more lenient parents let their kids run around like nuts or do other questionable things that we wouldn’t let our kids do. Other times it’s like what I said in my last comment. For punishment, usually we give a few clear warnings, and followup with a time out. During the time out we talk about what happened and how he got himself there. – FrancisJohn Jan 2 at 14:48
  • Maybe some of the answers in this question could help? parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/20003/… – James Khoury Jan 9 at 1:30
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Disclaimer: anecdotal evidence only.

My nephew exhibited similar behaviour. He has a high IQ, but not Asperger; he grew up to be a healthy functioning adult, and we were eventually able to discuss his childhood.

The seemingly random crying, and the "I don't know" answer, happened to him often at school. He was actually answering honestly; there was a great disconnect in his emotional and intellectual maturity, and he was experiencing a great deal of anxiety, as he understood far more about his environment than what we suspected. However, he didn't have the vocabulary to express himself.

Unfortunately, the school teachers failed to catch on that, and assumed he was lying about the reason he was crying, and looked for another explanation (like fighting with others, being tired, etc..). This had two very unfortunate consequences: he learned to repress his feelings, and he learned to try to tell adults what they want to hear.

He also learned to act immature, because his normal behaviour was confusing to his peers, and spooking out the adults. In particular, the school teachers were blaming his parents for "trying to turn him into a savant" (which they were not doing; he was naturally curious). I can guess that he probably received hostile reactions for it.

You'll probably get more helpful advice from a psychologist specialized in high IQ children. In the meantime, help him process his emotions, by sharing complex feelings with him, even if they seem above his age; but don't pressure him into hiding his own.

As for the social awkwardness and loneliness, that will hopefully improve as he grows up and gets to meet more like-minded people.

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