Chronological vs Developmental Age

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by JJJ, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Eeyore is almost 15 years old. He is clearly a teenager physically (5'6", 110 lbs, lots of muscles, beginning of facial hair, deep voice, etc). Developmentally, he is much younger.

    How do I get him to understand that it is not appropriate for him to play with much younger (7-8-9 year old) children??? It's fine when we are at my sister's because there are usually a dozen or so kids hanging out, mostly in that 8-10 year old range, so he gets to mix in with the group under the watchful eye of many moms who have known him for years and understand.

    But when out in public, we get lots of strange looks when he starts to play with the little ones. He is big and goofy and clumsy. Today he ran off the bus and said he had a new friend from our neighborhood and he'd been asked to come and play. I let him go but insisted that when he got there, he have the mom call me. It turns out that his new 'friend' is 9.

    Am I overreacting??? I just see this as such a problem waiting to happen. Due to his clumsiness, he could accidently hurt one of these small ones. While his temper rarely flares out of control anymore, I still remember how bad it was (although it has been almost a year since his last totally out of control rage). And, he is so easily led astray -- that he could -and has been- part of a group of kids that do something wrong and he takes the brunt of the blame because he 'looks' like he must be the ringleader due to his size/age even though he is following the 8 year old's lead. Then he gets upset because it isn't fair that the other parents blame him.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I certainly understand your concern. But clearly Eeyore feels more comfortable playing with kids who are younger than he is. He would probably be a fish out of water with neurotypical 15-year-olds. If you don't want him to play with younger children, you are going to have to find a substitute social activity to fill his time. What would that be?
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Are there in social groups of kids within his age range that he could become involved in that would focus on social skills? I definitely understand your concern as my difficult child is 13 and really connects better with younger kids or much older ones (young adults).
  4. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    My feeling is that he has less social awkwardness with younger children ( they may not seem to notice things kids his own age do) My difficult child is 10 and has many friends his same age, our phone rings off the hook and the doorbell is constantly being rung. With that being said he always does something gfgish and off they run in the dust .... they do come back for more the next day though lol... if he has a cousin or neighbor that is younger than him he is amazing. So much so their parents always comment how sweet he is. How do the parents of the younger kids feel about their child playing with an older kiddo ?
  5. ML

    ML Guest

    Manster only connects with girls. My worry is now that they are ah, developing, the dynamic will shift and it won't be ok any more. REALLY important that the boundaries are watched now. Anyway, it's sort of a similar issue.
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I took Piglet and Eeyore to the local movie in the park tonight. Eeyore sort of flits in and out of the different groups of jr high kids. I think he gets the initial social interaction (greetings, etc.) but once the hanging out starts he gets either bored or confused so he wanders off to join a different group. He seemed happy to see most of his school friends.

    Eeyore also likes the girls better :) Besides being pretty I think they are less physical in their play so Eeyore is more comfortable with them. And we were finally able to confirm a playdate with one of his fellow 8th graders for Friday. I think I just need to push harder to get more playdates set up as we don't seem to have alot of jr high boys in our neighborhood.
  7. ML

    ML Guest

    It sounds like Eeyore is doing pretty well. The playdates sound like a great idea.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is hard to know what to do in this situation. Are you comfortable explaining the situation to parents of the younger kids? Maybe explain that because he has a few "issues" he is easily led even by younger children and that if there are problems you would like to help resolve them? In the homeschool group we belonged to in Ohio there were a wide range of ages/abilities/developmental ages. No one batted an eye if a younger kid and an older kid played. Only in school are people forced to be in age-defined groups. The homeschool kids who were older in age and younger in development had few problems playing with the younger kids because it was more expected. Those who had true developmental delays were encouraged to "hang out" with kids of the same stage in development and no one thought it was odd. The parents of each child made sure that whatever parent was supervising had some idea of the child's reason for playing with various kids and it was not a big deal.

    Maybe for the summer you could connect to a homeschool group, or ask around to see if there are other kids with delays who he could hang out with? Maybe post a flier at doctor's offices or at therapist offices to start a group of teens who are a bit delayed or need some help with social skills? We all know our kids are NOT the only ones with problems. Maybe other parents/guardians would be willing to join a small group?
  9. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    If it makes you feel any better... ha, ha... my difficult child 2 is EXACTLY the same way as Eeyore. He ALWAYS gravitates towards younger kids. He loves playing with them, he once told us, because they accept him for who he is and they don't try to change him or make him fit in. And to tell you the truth, he is very good with little ones. In 6th grade, he wanted so badly to have a play date with his new friend who was a 2nd grader! I did not say no, but I stalled for as long as I could and tried my best to redirect his interest. He eventually gave up on that kid and we set up some things with another boy from his class. He also likes girls and makes friends with them pretty easily. Many of the boys his own age are trying to impress others with their tough talk and posturing, which he really does not like and will avoid boys who aggressive. I did ask him during the last week of school to get phone numbers of some friends he'd like to get together with over the summer. After this week we will try making some connections and helping him plan some social outings... maybe a movie or bowling or just hanging out and fishing at the park. At his elementary school, he had a hard time connecting with kids because they just did not understand is interests or share his passions. Since transferring to a gifted magnet school, he fit in a little better and actually was respected for his "uniqueness."

    All I can suggest is to try to keep steering him in the healthiest direction you can.
  10. Tezzie

    Tezzie Member

    Been there, done that..... One thing I've learned from all my reading on ADHD (difficult child 1 is a poster boy for this), social/emotional age is about 2/3 that of chronological age. This means I have a 12 year old in a 19 year old's body. He interacts well with little kids and also, strangely, with older adults and is slowly figuring out how to interact "normally" with same age peers. I would agree with susiestar that you set the stage with the other kids' parents & then you & they keep a closer than usual eye on their activities for a while to see how things go. Playdates with same age kids is also a great idea.

    Sending good wishes for a smooth summer.
  11. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member

    I can relate to this post too. difficult child 2 is 18 years of age but developmentally he is much younger. Like the others have said, he relates to either very young children or much older adults. difficult child 2 has been surrounded by typically developing peers his entire life, whether at school or at summer camp. It hasn't made much difference in his developmental progress.

    It sounds like your son is more socially advanced than mine. It is wonderful that you were able to set up a playdate for him with another 8th grader! SFR
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    husband and I were just talking about this last night... When I met them Jett was 5, acted about 3. He's clearly advanced quite a bit, with the most dramatic and obvious bit the year after we took over residential - brought him to his own age (9 at the time). Very much like others his age.

    Now he's moving backwards - not in "book learning", but in the other stuff. He's acting like 9 again (he's almost 12)... and younger... I have a friend with a 9-y/o and 7-y/o and he plays with them both, but I can gauge a little based on them and their friends (a "group norm")... And even his teachers have commented...

    So yeah, I get this. I would say talk to the other parents so they "get" it. Just for his protection.
  13. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    wm is exactly this way ~ he gravitates toward much younger kids. Having said that, he's about to turn 16 & his best friend is 11 at best. The social immaturity, especially in boy difficult children, is troublesome to onlookers & lonely for our difficult children.

    wm is currently working with Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) skills trainers on age appropriateness & keeping a friend; highlighting keeping a friend closer to his own age.

    Let the parents who understand/are sympathetic toward issues about difficult children problems (of course in general terms). We've done time & again for wm.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Well, where my words of warning failed to sink in, his new 'friends' mom may have helped me out. New friend is not allowed to play with Eeyore anymore because the mom says Eeyore is a bad influence. Apparently they were rough housing and the little boy's knees got scraped and the boy got in trouble on the bus and blamed Eeyore. No call from the bus so I think he only blamed Eeyore to his mom.

    Eeyore is now stunned that anyone would think he was a bad influence and cannot believe that I am right that this would happen. He's decided to play with jr high kids only. Course, we still have those out of whack social skills to work on but at least he understands why that needs to be the goal.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Maybe he'll slowly pick up on the peer social stuff if he's decided to spend more time around them.