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How much social time is 'enough'?


Not_a_Number
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@Dmmetler's thread made me think... how much social time is "enough" for kids to make homeschooling feasible? I can understand how having everything be remote wouldn't be anyone's choice... but how often do your kids need to see their friends for them to feel contented with their level of peer interaction? Do the interactive times need to be with the same kids often, or does putting together a piecemeal program with different kids on different days work? How do the needs change by age? 

Before the pandemic, we were constantly out of the house and at activities. The pandemic was a radical departure for us. I'm still building up our new life (Delta is of course messing with that), so I'm curious what people think about this. 

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I think it depends on the personality of the kid.  It depends on if your kids has siblings.  And I think it depends on the age of your kids.  I think social time usually goes up as the kid ages.  I mean younger kids love playing and hanging out too, but I think it gets more important as the kid gets older.  I think you can have a mix of ages and it is fine.

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Depends completely on the kid. My introverted DS found weekly park day more than enough; he once said he didn't want to go because he had already seen  kids last week. He hated activities and didn't join anything until he discovered martial arts as a teen.

My extroverted DD needed hours of daily interaction with her friend and spent several afternoons with the folks at the barn.

 

Edited by regentrude
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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Depends completely on the kid. My introverted DS found weekly park day more than enough; he once said he didn't want to go because he had already seen  kids last week.

My extroverted DD needed hours of daily interaction with her friend.

With a specific friend or a mix of friends? When did this start? 

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4 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

With a specific friend or a mix of friends? When did this start? 

I didn't start homeschooling her until 6th grade. Until she found a friend who "got her" in 5th grade, she was very lonely,  despite attending school. Because she didn't fit in. It was hard.

For the next few years, she and her friend were joined at the hip. 

In her early teens, she made friends with college girls at the barn and the found two really close friends doing DE. They spent a lot of time together,  but she was never part of any larger friend groups until college 

Edited by regentrude
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3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

I didn't start homeschooling her until 6th grade. Until she found a friend who "got her" in 5th grade, she was very lonely,  despite attending school. Because she didn't fit in. It was hard.

For the next few years, she and her friend were joined at the hip. 

In her early teens, she made friends with college girls at the barn and the found two really close friends doing DE. They spent a lot of time together,  but she was never part of any larger friend groups until college 

Oh, interesting -- I didn't realize that. Why did you start homeschooling her? 

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Just now, gardenmom5 said:

It varies with the kid.

Obviously, although I also assume some amounts help kids build friendships more than others? 

My older girl is on the introverted side of average, I think, but not super introverted. DD5 is pretty social but loves playing with her sister. 

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

Oh, interesting -- I didn't realize that. Why did you start homeschooling her? 

Because middle school sucks. Horrible bullying plus lack of any appropriate academics, especially for a gifted student.

Elementary school was a good decision for us as non- native speakers and I would do it again. But my great regret is not having pulled her after 4th grade, so I could have spared her the horrible 5th grade year. I didn't know about the extent of the bullying until I had pulled her out and she knew she didn't have to go back. And OMG, the academics... they learned nothing new in 5th grade, all just review. 

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

Because middle school sucks. Horrible bullying plus lack of any appropriate academics, especially for a gifted student.

Elementary school was a good decision for us as non- native speakers and I would do it again. But my great regret is not having pulled her after 4th grade, so I could have spared her the horrible 5th grade year. I didn't know about the extent of the bullying until I had pulled her out and she knew she didn't have to go back. And OMG, the academics... they learned nothing new in 5th grade, all just review. 

I'm really sorry she had that experience 😞 . 

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12 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Obviously, although I also assume some amounts help kids build friendships more than others? 

My older girl is on the introverted side of average, I think, but not super introverted. DD5 is pretty social but loves playing with her sister. 

I have two that would get overstimulated.  Both could have far more social time than they were capable of having.  I had to limit how much time they spent with others.

2dd was super social.  (she says she's an introvert . . . ummm . . . . . she's not as extroverted as her dh, but she's the most extroverted of my kids)  I had to laugh when as an incoming college freshman she said "I'm not going to provide 1dd with a social life". . . .. . and I was getting phone calls from an impatient 1dd asking how to get her out of her room (at college.).

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29 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

@Dmmetler's thread made me think... how much social time is "enough" for kids to make homeschooling feasible? I can understand how having everything be remote wouldn't be anyone's choice... but how often do your kids need to see their friends for them to feel contented with their level of peer interaction? Do the interactive times need to be with the same kids often, or does putting together a piecemeal program with different kids on different days work? How do the needs change by age? 

Before the pandemic, we were constantly out of the house and at activities. The pandemic was a radical departure for us. I'm still building up our new life (Delta is of course messing with that), so I'm curious what people think about this. 

As children get older, "social time" is going to be different. When DD was little, she just needed an opportunity to play with other kids. It didn't matter that much who the kids were. I noticed in 5th grade (when DD was 10), that it began to change. It wasn't enough for me to provide her with an opportunity to be with other kids. Friendship, especially "BFF," became more important. 

This can make things both easier and harder. On one hand, you can't just find an activity, enroll your kid, and viola! socialization. On the other hand, as interacting with friends became more important than "play," that opened up an opportunity for online interaction. 

Also, friendship for kids, just like with adults, requires more time to develop and it also requires things in common. That's hard to establish with short activities. I noticed that many of the activities that I found for DD were very short term, for example, an hour a week for 8 weeks. And the kids would come from other and we never saw them again. This would be fine for an extroverted child but not a kid like mine who needs more time to warm up to new people. 

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It really varies by age. My dd has hours of playtime daily with the same 2-3 kids, plus a nature day with one set, plus some sort of socialization at her sport, plus a couple hours at art weekly. It’s barely enough and difficult to manage when her friends go to school. 
issue with older kids is that you can’t just schedule a play date. Even themed get togethers like organized nerf battles, etc take a while to get off the ground. 

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My son’s experience was similar to @regentrude.  Except he was badly bullied by his 4th grade teacher who had a cluster of “mean girls” join in with her. It was traumatizing. He wanted to homeschool so badly. We ended up pulling ds out halfway through 4th grade. He was homeschooled alone as his brother is much older. He’s introverted and was very happy with minimal outside outside activities. He did do orchestra, art, and some volunteering. He was blissfully happy and did just fine all the way through dual enrollment at community college and then on to a four year college. 

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Middle/high school has been hard for us. For my kids (so far three boys graduated) once a week co-op wasn’t enough because those kids also saw each other at church and /or lived in the same neighborhood/ belonged to same activities. While my kids were very sociable and even popular in co-op situations, they were left out of the loop when the other kids were seeing each other more often. It wasn’t intentional just an “out of sight out of mind”situation when making other plans. My oldest played sports on a local private school team. While he got along with everyone it wasn’t the same as going to school all day together like the other boys. So they just never really felt like they had a friend group. Always outsiders. They dated and did regular teenager stuff but they didn’t have solid close friends and that was a void. 
 

My third ds actually went away on weekend trips for 4-H a couple times a month and then several week long trips over summers. So he didn’t have daily interaction but he did have intense social time for extended weeks and weekend trips and then kept up on social media and texting/calling during the week. That worked for him pretty well (until Covid shut it down). He has friends all over the state that filled his social needs in intense bursts and then over the phone in between visits.
 

My 8th grade dd is the only one left home. We are trying hard to find at least one buddy this year through some new activities. If she isn’t able to make any connections she will likely head off to public school for 9th. 
 

It’s just hard. They don’t need a ton of friends but they do need some. It can be hard to break into groups when the other kids do multiple activities together or are family friends. 
 

So it varies for each kid but all four of mine have needed a little more than we managed 🙁

 

In all fairness, there are other obstacles for my kids socially. We don’t do social media until they are well into high school, we don’t keep up with current trends very well, and dh and I are definitely less permissive than most parents of teens we know, all while not belonging to the popular church denomination and not being from the small town we are living in. So my poor kids have it hard finding their peeps. 

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We're sending DD back to school largely for social reasons and I hope it works out. But school doesn't guarantee healthy friendships either. I think when considering socialization in homeschooling we must acknowledge that this is hard for many kids. The good thing about school is that it provides opportunities for children to be with other children for hours every day and gives them something in common. 

The downside is that if you put your kids in school, you lose a lot of influence over them. For example, I don't know how you can send your kids to school without allowing them access to the internet. These kids are online all.the.time. It's shocking, frankly. I remember when we tried saying no to Roblox. We finally caved. DD used to insist that she was only kid who didn't have a cell phone. I discovered that all of her friends (5th graders at the time) indeed did have cell phones. We caved and gave her my old cell phone. 

DD and her friends Facetime each other while playing Roblox and watching Youtube videos. This makes me crazy. I wanted to be the mom who didn't allow too much screentime. Hah! 

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18 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

It really varies by age. My dd has hours of playtime daily with the same 2-3 kids, plus a nature day with one set, plus some sort of socialization at her sport, plus a couple hours at art weekly. It’s barely enough and difficult to manage when her friends go to school. 
issue with older kids is that you can’t just schedule a play date. Even themed get togethers like organized nerf battles, etc take a while to get off the ground. 

Why can't you schedule play dates at that point? 

Do they play after school when the kids go to school? 

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2 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Why can't you schedule play dates at that point? 

Do they play after school when the kids go to school? 

I'm not the person you asked this question but I agree that scheduling play date is harder with older kids. Kids have such busy schedules. They have homework and activities like soccer and ballet. Their parents work weird schedules. Perhaps we brought this on ourselves because we never sent DD to the neighborhood public school but no friends live within walking distance so a parent has to drive. Also, I think as kids get older the idea of a "play date" is less important to other parents so they aren't going to do it if it's trouble for them. They think their kids are in school with other kids all day so why worry about playing with other kids? 

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4 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

We're sending DD back to school largely for social reasons and I hope it works out. But school doesn't guarantee healthy friendships either. I think when considering socialization in homeschooling we must acknowledge that this is hard for many kids. The good thing about school is that it provides opportunities for children to be with other children for hours every day and gives them something in common. 

The downside is that if you put your kids in school, you lose a lot of influence over them. For example, I don't know how you can send your kids to school without allowing them access to the internet. These kids are online all.the.time. It's shocking, frankly. I remember when we tried saying no to Roblox. We finally caved. DD used to insist that she was only kid who didn't have a cell phone. I discovered that all of her friends (5th graders at the time) indeed did have cell phones. We caved and gave her my old cell phone. 

DD and her friends Facetime each other while playing Roblox and watching Youtube videos. This makes me crazy. I wanted to be the mom who didn't allow too much screentime. Hah! 

This is all so true. We might end up with dd in public high school but it certainly won’t be an ideal. We will be losing a lot of control. It could be worth it or could just be a lot of drama 🙁

We visited with oldest ds last week. He is 23 yo. We discussed the issue of where his sister will end up in school and he says that it is hard to homeschool high school but was worth it and turned out well. I think that he has a point and the kids were all fine socially and made good friends in college. They weren’t stunted forever by their loneliness at times in high school. However. Four years is a long time! It’s not like a lonely summer or something. That’s a long time. It isn’t something that can’t be overcome but it is far from ideal.

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10 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I'm not the person you asked this question but I agree that scheduling play date is harder with older kids. Kids have such busy schedules. They have homework and activities like soccer and ballet. Their parents work weird schedules. Perhaps we brought this on ourselves because we never sent DD to the neighborhood public school but no friends live within walking distance so a parent has to drive. Also, I think as kids get older the idea of a "play date" is less important to other parents so they aren't going to do it if it's trouble for them. They think their kids are in school with other kids all day so why worry about playing with other kids? 

I didn't have any luck making playdates with younger kids that are in school, either 😛 . NYC kids are pretty notoriously overscheduled... some of which is ambition, and some of which is that there's so much stuff that you can easily bite off more than you can chew. 

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In hindsight, DS13 didn't need nearly as much social time aas a little guy as I gave him. He probably would have been content with half of what we did.

How much is needed depends on the kid. He's doing ok with not seeing other kids during the pandemic, but I can see a day when that changes and he will want regular, consistent friends available. Kids social needs change as they get older.  

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50 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Why can't you schedule play dates at that point? 

Do they play after school when the kids go to school? 

Again, as they get older lives are more and more integrated in school and if they don’t share a sport it’s hard to schedule anything. School bus doesn’t roll down until 4pm here. So in a way, pandemic with remote learning was a gift to DD, socialization-wise. 

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I've found my kids are "happiest" socially when they have at least 1 or 2 good friends that they see regularly and outside of organized activities, at least when they were middle school age and younger.  The absolute best fit has been when the kids have had a friend like that within our immediate neighborhood so that get-togethers could be impromptu.  But never have all 4 of my kids had that kind of friend all at the same time.  I feel fortunate that my boys have each other, and my DD had best friends in the neighborhood we lived in from age 3 to age 14 (until we moved to a different city), and by then she was old enough to be independent socially.  When at various points one of my boys didn't have a conveniently accessible "good friend", it seemed like no amount of attempting to set up social gatherings, playdates, etc could fix it.  I would still enroll them in classes/activities, take them to general park days, etc...and that did help.  But I notice that whomever doesn't have a convenient friend tends to really rely on his brothers to be a friend in their place.  

Right now DS9 has a good friend in the neighborhood and DS12 has a good friend at church (who doesn't live super conveniently to us, but hanging out every week at church seems to help).  DS14 has no one locally, but has made the best of it with his brothers since we moved away from his best friend 3 years ago.  He is getting to that age now where he really needs to take his own initiative socially anyway, so I am hoping that through school and the many activities he hopes to join that he'll make some new friends.

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Depends on the age of the kid, as well as their personality...

Younger kids tend to "make friends" easily and be happy to have almost anyone to play with. As they get older the need for more personal connections can become stronger - for a more specific group of friends. 

And of course, every kid is different in how much social time they like. 

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Due to circumstances, none of my kids have ever routinely played with non-siblings.

There have been times they were in classes several times a week, but even after an entire year of a weekly class, they could never name more than a couple of their classmates, and they never had any desire to socialize with any of them outside of class. And even during classes, they would often opt out of games, snacks and free times when more socialization took place.

There have also been times that I have set up playdates or outings with other families, but those rarely happened more than every few months, and they normally fizzled within a school year. Some of my kids are not particularly pleasant to play with...they simply don't understand why all kids don't want to have a code based on Planck's constant as a password to get into a fort. Eventually, all the play dates have devolved into me and the other mom talking together while her kids play in one area, my boys play in another area, and my daughter tries to join the adult conversation and turn it towards interesting topics like loose teeth and Paw Patrol. Fun times.

While I would love for my kids to have friends, I don't think the current state of affairs is the end of the world. Since my kids spend huge amounts of time with adults and conducting adult business (pre-pandemic I never had childcare, so all the kids attended all appointments and errands from the time they were infants), they are very good at those types of interactions.

They can approach sales associates and librarians, make purchases, ask and answer questions about their lizards with pet store employees, fill prescriptions, and calmly tell police officers and Good Samaritans that they are not lost...a skill they need with ridiculous frequency. They can converse with repair people in the home, be polite to little old ladies who want to coo at them on the walking trail, interact well with in-person and online teachers, and discuss problems and events with therapists and doctors. I figure they are going to outgrow the problem of not being good at playing with kids because eventually they won't be a kid anymore, and the skills they do have will serve them well throughout life.

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Do you know the song from The Greatest Showman that goes ”Never enough, never, never….”? That is what I heard in my head when I read your title. 
 

My youngest kids are older than yours at 14 and 11. They have always been homeschooled, but still see their friends 5 days a week and have FaceTime or gaming contact 7 days a week. And guess what? It is never enough. 
 

In a way, I’ve given in and made their people my people, so we are all basically one family now. We just spent 3 days together putting on a trials and finals championship swim meet and at 9:30 in the morning, we meet to start a 7 day vacation with the kids friends and their families. The kids literally call the other parents Auntie or Uncle followed by their first name. I suggested we switch which car the kids ride in every time we stop to get gas so we all get a turn with them. 
 

My favorite example is when they had morning practice at 5:30, then another mom took them to breakfast and an activity and lunch and an activity and asked if Dd could stay for dinner, then took them to get boba, and finally brought Dd home at 9:30 at night. I could still see their tail lights leaving my house, when the girls texted each other, “I’m lonely.” 
 

I have had introverted kids too, and I’m pretty introverted myself, but I want to make sure that you understand for certain personalities there is no such thing as enough social time. 

 

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The happy medium for us seems to be where they have one or two good quality close friendships that they see every week or two and then a couple of activities where they’re reasonably friendly with the kids but not besties.  Dd has one year where her two close close friends moved away and no amount of socialising and company made up for the lack of that friendship. It was also the year where mean girl stuff kicks in.  DD was into animals and science and not makeup, shoes and fashion and for a while that didn’t work out well for her.  She also had some issues with socialising in a bigger group rather than with one or two.  Maturity has mostly improved those things for now.

Also I think kids are a lot like adults.  Some probably need a little more social time than they seek out themselves and some could actually use a bit less.  But there’s a spectrum of needs.

I also don’t think this is super hard to figure out because mostly the kids will tell you if they’re lonely or want to see friends.  Figuring out how to make it happen can be harder though.

What I do think that many kids including school kids need is socialisation across different age groups. So many kids don’t have a clue how to relate to anyone outside their age group.

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It varies greatly from child to child.  I remember when My kids were young and we were heading out to a playground. There were two about the same distance from our house--one to the north and one to the south.  I asked the kids which they wanted to go to.  DD responded "the one to the north always has more kids" to which DS responded "Yes, let's go to the one to the south"  DD looked puzzled and said "I said the one to the north has more kids" to which DS replied "Yes, so the one to the south isn't as crowded and we get to use the slide more" and DD said "But, there aren't as many new friends to play with!"  

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My kids are pretty naturally introverted. 

When they were younger, park days, some classes where they saw a few of the same kids, 4-H meetings and similar were plenty.    They made a few casual friends through Sunday School and choir and 4-H.  Kids they could invite to birthday parties (and got invited to) but they generally didn't seem them outside of the scheduled activity otherwise.   For awhile seeing kids at activities on a weekly or so basis was enough.  

When my youngest was hitting middle school age, she asked to go to school because she wanted to have friends that she saw more regularly, the same kids every day or every few days.   Middle School is the WORST and there was no way I was putting her in school at that point, and as a PP said school is no guarantee of finding friends.  

We had to do a couple things.  I ended up starting the science center, which included classes but also various social activities like weekly game days, teen hangouts, etc.   That helped and she made a few friends through that.   She also started going online more and has a group of very close friends on line.  

Ds never really cared as much about being around people.  He has less in-person friends (he has ASD and I think this is always going to be hard for him) but a larger group of online friends that he started out D&D gaming with and they've moved on to various activities.

And of course, Covid made all in-person interactions much harder.   This summer, my kids have barely left the house.  Not just because of Covid but we've also had some crazy family stuff going on (hoarder mother moving, finding oldest an apartment and helping her move, etc.)

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9 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Obviously, although I also assume some amounts help kids build friendships more than others? 

Still gonna vary by kid.   
Using my boys as examples, the first was in PS from k-4 (plus some preschool) and back again for 9th and 10th. Plus sports and activities, plus the activities we had during his homeschool years. He never really clicked with any specific kids except for our apartment neighbor around K and 1st grade. That’s it.   
2nd boy has always averaged 2-3 days of activities per week, but only recently formed a few tight relationships with kids from those activities, but virtually.  I don’t think he could name more than one kid, if that, from the baseball team he was on for 3+years, and was with 4-5 days/wk during the season.
3rd boy same schedule as the 2nd except less baseball. He has his preferred people (2-3) and doesn’t want to be bothered with anyone else.  He’ll go to activities and participate (in non Covid times), but he doesn’t look for new friends. He’s set. Even after going a year and a half without seeing his bestest friend, who doesn’t keep much virtual contact, that’s his bestest friend.

The more the merrier doesn’t seem to apply to any of my boys, but for different reasons specific to their personalities and needs.

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It depends on the age, I think, coupled with personality.

Youngest ds is 11, and at the age where he wants collaborative work.  He now has enough skills under his belt to couple with other kids' skills and do something bigger.  For him, that need is met with scouts, book club, and sports.  Each of them had their own way of dealing with COVID and making sure the kids got the social time without being at risk (online, outside, masked in person/Messenger Kids "locker room").

When he was younger, he didn't know how to play.  It was a lot of side by side type of playing, where he would do his own thing, watch another kid, copy what they did...but no real interaction unless it was competitive. Social time wasn't as important for us then.  I still made sure he went to play groups weekly and other activities, but he was just as happy staying home.

Oldest ds, otoh, was the type of kid who would make friends with a stick if there was no one else around.  😄 He needed friends and imaginative play daily.  I ended up signing him up for after school centers and everything else because he craved constant interaction.

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No way to know. Both of my older 2 ended up in PS for 8th because we couldn't get enough social time homeschooling despite my best efforts. For ds being in school was mostly enough, it gave him more steady friends and interaction he needed. He hangs with friends some outside school but not a lot. For dd she wants a ton of social time on top of that and has a million friends. It seems she could do things non stop. 

My younger 2 I'm still not sure about. They don't have a huge need at their ages (8/11) and have done ok with mostly hanging with each other and 1 outside activity. Hopefully, we can do some outdoor activities in the coming year to get them a bit more time. Time will tell how it changes as they get older. Both of my older 2 really had the desire for more time in grade 7, so even though both say they want to continue homeschooling I'm not getting my hopes up.

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At your kids ages, my DS didn’t need or want much. He was never a kid who would just play with anyone, like many kids are. He has always been particular about his friends; social time with others was meaningless for him— he would have rather just read a book or play alone. Organised sports always provided enough socialisation for him— he played hockey from 3-13, played soccer until age 8, started running at 8, cycled competitively from age 10-15. He always preferred scheduled activities over free play, with exceptions for very few friends.

Even through high school he didn’t seek out extra social time outside school and sports. That really didn’t change until senior year, when of course social time couldn’t happen. He’s craving more time with friends this summer than ever before, but it really did take him until 18 to want it. I suspect a year and a half of minimal contact with others played a huge role—although that sucked I am glad to see him reach out for opportunities now.

FWIW he is not shy nor does he have social anxiety. He’s introverted but easily fits in with any crowd and any situation. Now that I think about it, I guess he’s had some social needs met online through gaming and chat groups. Those probably helped a lot more than I initially realize.

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Hmmm... I hear you all about kids being different (they obviously are!), but I wonder how one decides whether the kid's choices are healthy for them or not. 

DD9 was in preschool and in kindergarten before we pulled her out to homeschool. I definitely noticed that she had more friends when she could see the same kids every day for many hours -- she's a kid who's probably a bit below average in social need, but nothing too unusual. When we started homeschooling her, she'd want to see different kids every day -- I had to do some work to make sure we would see the same kids a few times a week, so she could have practice building friendships. 

I don't really know what the right thing in that situation is, you know? On the one hand, she was totally content with seeing a lot of random kids. On the other hand, I could see that this wasn't really resulting in her practicing useful social skills as well as having her in school did. 

So obviously, it DOES depend on the kid, but I wonder how one figures out what the right thing is... 

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Hmmm... I hear you all about kids being different (they obviously are!), but I wonder how one decides whether the kid's choices are healthy for them or not. 

DD9 was in preschool and in kindergarten before we pulled her out to homeschool. I definitely noticed that she had more friends when she could see the same kids every day for many hours -- she's a kid who's probably a bit below average in social need, but nothing too unusual. When we started homeschooling her, she'd want to see different kids every day -- I had to do some work to make sure we would see the same kids a few times a week, so she could have practice building friendships. 

I don't really know what the right thing in that situation is, you know? On the one hand, she was totally content with seeing a lot of random kids. On the other hand, I could see that this wasn't really resulting in her practicing useful social skills as well as having her in school did. 

So obviously, it DOES depend on the kid, but I wonder how one figures out what the right thing is... 

Will she not tell you if you ask? A nine year old probably has a pretty good handle on what she wants.

I worried about DS when he was younger—he has some spectrumy tendencies and Aspergers had been suggested to me so that weighed on my brain. But I just took his lead—let him play alone when he wanted to/other kids annoyed him, but also found lots of varied outlets when that seemed needed. Even when he was preschool age he loved structured classes; there was a year or two when he would go to preschool and then spend the afternoon in 3-4 different classes at the rec center. H loved keeping busy and learning, much more than having free play time. Give him a sandbox and he’d go inside and read. 🙂 

Later, had I known about the opportunities our middle school provided I probably would have made a bigger push for him to go instead of homeschool. Those years were spent searching for outlets—mostly academic, which was what he wanted and where he was missing peers. He did run for the middle school so he knew a lot of kids already; as it turned out they were all on the same academic “track” and had the same classes together in high school, so I feel certain they were properly challenged at the middle school as well.
 

I guess, looking back, I’d say don’t rule things out even if everyone else says otherwise. At the same time, I don’t believe there is One Right Way—there will be good decisions and mistakes, but it’s unlikely you’re going to actually go wrong and she’ll be forever damaged. 😜

 

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1 hour ago, Not_a_Number said:

Hmmm... I hear you all about kids being different (they obviously are!), but I wonder how one decides whether the kid's choices are healthy for them or not.

As a big time introvert, the idea of labeling degrees of socialization as “healthy” doesn’t sit well with me.  Happy and capable of getting along in the world? Okay. But humans don’t all have to meet the same time measurements to be happy and capable. Happy on one’s own is not a disease.

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Just now, Carrie12345 said:

As a big time introvert, the idea of labeling degrees of socialization as “healthy” doesn’t sit well with me.  Happy and capable of getting along in the world? Okay. But humans don’t all have to meet the same time measurements to be happy and capable. Happy on one’s own is not a disease.

Obviously not. But I know that I personally can benefit from structure around me that I haven’t always had the self-knowledge to create. 

She enjoyed having a best friend in kindergarten. It hasn’t happened since she’s been homeschooled. Is it a huge deal? No. But I also don’t know if her choices always lead to the outcomes she wants.

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4 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Obviously not. But I know that I personally can benefit from structure around me that I haven’t always had the self-knowledge to create. 

She enjoyed having a best friend in kindergarten. It hasn’t happened since she’s been homeschooled. Is it a huge deal? No. But I also don’t know if her choices always lead to the outcomes she wants.

I think the good thing about younger kids is that they are pretty resilient (generally)...if she asks for social outlets and you provide them, but it doesn't work out the way she expects...or if you have to say "no" due to the pandemic or other reasons...she'll be learning more about herself and be more prepared to make different choices or to take advantage of future opportunities.  I'm definitely an extrovert, but at times my social situation growing up wasn't conducive to positive social interactions.  I was an only child, I experienced some teasing/bullying in school, didn't always live in places where there were any neighborhood friends, and was sometimes a bit awkward socially.  I'm not sure if my mom would have set up more playdates for me or enrolled me in any more activities if it would have made all that much difference, because I often didn't feel like I was connecting with most kids I was meeting in school or at the activities I did go to  (or maybe I just didn't know how to connect with them).  Eventually, as a teen, I was able to navigate social situations a bit better, find "my people",  and make choices for myself like getting people-oriented jobs that made me feel refreshed as an extrovert.  

If your DD can't get all the social time she wants now, she still has many years of experiences ahead of her.  If you provide her more social time and she doesn't really make the kind of friends she wants to have, as she gets older that may help her ask for something different.   I too sometimes stress about different ones of my kids and how they are or aren't getting the friendships I wish they had...and I try to remind myself that my mom (who was working full time, and was a single mom for half my childhood) had very little time/energy to think about my friendships at all!  If I am able to help my kids a bit in finding and maintaining friendships, they are already getting some help that I didn't have. 

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2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Hmmm... I hear you all about kids being different (they obviously are!), but I wonder how one decides whether the kid's choices are healthy for them or not. 

DD9 was in preschool and in kindergarten before we pulled her out to homeschool. I definitely noticed that she had more friends when she could see the same kids every day for many hours -- she's a kid who's probably a bit below average in social need, but nothing too unusual. When we started homeschooling her, she'd want to see different kids every day -- I had to do some work to make sure we would see the same kids a few times a week, so she could have practice building friendships. 

I don't really know what the right thing in that situation is, you know? On the one hand, she was totally content with seeing a lot of random kids. On the other hand, I could see that this wasn't really resulting in her practicing useful social skills as well as having her in school did. 

So obviously, it DOES depend on the kid, but I wonder how one figures out what the right thing is... 

I don't think we can decide what is healthy for them or not. 

First, I think all of us are coming to this with our backgrounds. We were all children once. Does anyone make it through childhood without any damage from social relationships? IDK. I suspect all of us are a least a little damaged and we bring that damage to these little people that we're incapable of seeing objectively anyway. How can we decide what is right for them when we're reliving our own elementary school experiences? 

Second, how do we know what is healthy and what isn't? What is healthy one day might be unhealthy the next day. Social interaction is strange and unpredictable. 

Third, is it right to want to control this? I know we want to protect our children from being hurt but can you grow up to be a healthy adult without being hurt? 

DD has a friend who we don't like. I think she's manipulative and needy. DD doesn't get this. Interestingly, DD's best friend has this other girl's number. I overheard DD's best friend talking to DD about this other girl and it was clear that the best friend has her figured out. There is definitely something to innate social intelligence. I can't stop DD from being friends with this girl. I feel like getting involved in this will make it worse then letting it play out naturally. I know that this girl is going to end up hurting my daughter but how do I stop that from happening? 

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2 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

So obviously, it DOES depend on the kid, but I wonder how one figures out what the right thing is... 

Here's the thing--there is no "right thing."  It's one of the uncontrollable things with kids that we wish we could control, but can't.

Ds 1 had a couple of very close friends from 7-16.  They were tight.  I felt he was "set."  Everything imploded the year he was 16 and now I wish I hadn't relied on that group so much for him. BUT I had him in other activities--he just "had" his friends and was set. Until he wasn't. It took him a few years to recover and has a good group of friends at college (but there have been ups and downs there.)  He was my one who needed a lot of social interaction as a youngster and then "didn't" as a high schooler.  I wish high school had been different for him, but am not sure what we could have done differently bc, like I say, we can't control it.

Dd 1 is very fun and personable.  She has always been both picky about her friends and prefered older kids and needed a lot of down time.  She manages her friendships.  At times she had "a group."  At times she hasn't.  It took her years to learn to be the initiator.  (She could have had a group at times, but when the organizers left, she let the groups fall apart.)

I could go through each of my kids like this.  Youngest is best at making friends and keeping up with friends and initiating. She is the whole package. But it isn't anything I've done, iykwim.

So, with your 8 year old this would be my advice.  I believe most 8 year olds, no matter how social, need the majority of their time with their families.  It is a good idea to start to cultivate "social capital" with at least one other family.  I also call this face time.  So, if she does like someone, try to get together (at the park) once a week or so if you can.  Look for these relationships if you can.  The pandemic makes it hard and I'm not saying it needs to be tomorrow, just start watching for them.

I think your regular online classes and park days are a really good idea.  You are on the right track.  I have never found classes or activities that don't include free play time to lead to friendships.  Sometimes they lead to mom friendships which are easier to cultivate into kid friendships, but I can't think of any "classes" outside of church or co-op (which also have free play time) that ever led to friendships for my kids. And, while the numbers are going up in NYC, my advice would be to do them now bc we don't know what the fall/winter will bring and maybe some friendships will spark that can lead to zoom friendships if you can't get out together.

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In elementary school, a co-op once a week and a few playdates and kids at outside classes/activities were enough. It didn't really matter that they weren't the same kids, although there were several years where we had the same group of 3 kids at activities together three or four times a week. 

 

By middle/high school, there needed to be a few good friends that were around a lot. Usually 2-3x a week with the same people. My teen's long time best friend is someone who we saw about once a week, despite living 3 hours apart. 

 

This last year was awful. We've seen most friends in person a single digit number of times in the last year, and likely only 2-3x at most from March 2020-March 2021 (it went up when teens got vsccinated, but has been going down due to Delta and schools starting up). It was definitely not enough. 

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47 minutes ago, kirstenhill said:

I think the good thing about younger kids is that they are pretty resilient (generally)...if she asks for social outlets and you provide them, but it doesn't work out the way she expects...or if you have to say "no" due to the pandemic or other reasons...she'll be learning more about herself and be more prepared to make different choices or to take advantage of future opportunities. 

Oh, absolutely. I don't expect perfection. I just want to think about how to provide enough opportunities and the right kinds of opportunities. 

 

47 minutes ago, kirstenhill said:

f your DD can't get all the social time she wants now, she still has many years of experiences ahead of her.  If you provide her more social time and she doesn't really make the kind of friends she wants to have, as she gets older that may help her ask for something different.   I too sometimes stress about different ones of my kids and how they are or aren't getting the friendships I wish they had...and I try to remind myself that my mom (who was working full time, and was a single mom for half my childhood) had very little time/energy to think about my friendships at all!  If I am able to help my kids a bit in finding and maintaining friendships, they are already getting some help that I didn't have. 

That's definitely a good point. 

 

32 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

First, I think all of us are coming to this with our backgrounds. We were all children once. Does anyone make it through childhood without any damage from social relationships? IDK. I suspect all of us are a least a little damaged and we bring that damage to these little people that we're incapable of seeing objectively anyway. How can we decide what is right for them when we're reliving our own elementary school experiences? 

Second, how do we know what is healthy and what isn't? What is healthy one day might be unhealthy the next day. Social interaction is strange and unpredictable. 

Third, is it right to want to control this? I know we want to protect our children from being hurt but can you grow up to be a healthy adult without being hurt? 

I'm definitely not trying to control it, per se. Just to make sure she has room to grow and learn and that she feels both relatively happy with her friendships and also has opportunities to build deeper ones. 

 

32 minutes ago, freesia said:

So, with your 8 year old this would be my advice.  I believe most 8 year olds, no matter how social, need the majority of their time with their families.  It is a good idea to start to cultivate "social capital" with at least one other family.  I also call this face time.  So, if she does like someone, try to get together (at the park) once a week or so if you can.  Look for these relationships if you can.  The pandemic makes it hard and I'm not saying it needs to be tomorrow, just start watching for them.

We've done that a lot, although we've also had a lot of people move away 😕 . The family we were closest to, whose kid we'd take to classes and who would take DD9 to classes... they just moved away 😕.  We made sure to see them at least 2-3 times a week, and it was great, but now they are in Michigan and the girl is going to go to school over there. 

 

33 minutes ago, freesia said:

I think your regular online classes and park days are a really good idea.  You are on the right track.  I have never found classes or activities that don't include free play time to lead to friendships. 

Agreed. We've noticed this ourselves -- she didn't manage to make many friends at gymnastics, for instance, and the only friend she made at Hebrew school was the one whose family we cultivated. 

So I'm really hoping a mix of online classes and a weekly park day will lead to her both having enough interaction time with other kids and chances to build deeper friendships if she needs them. We're also obviously hoping that eventually we can join other activities, so we can find more people for the co-op if they are interested... 

 

36 minutes ago, freesia said:

And, while the numbers are going up in NYC, my advice would be to do them now bc we don't know what the fall/winter will bring and maybe some friendships will spark that can lead to zoom friendships if you can't get out together.

That's what we've decided, actually. We're going to keep the weekly playground day with masks for now, because chances are that fall will be worse, plus they'll have online classes together by then, so locking down for a month or two won't be as socially isolating. And right now, cases are going up but not exponentially -- the places they are currently going up exponentially are the ones where it's too hot in the summer to be outside, which implies that the fall in the Northeast will be terrible as people go indoors. 

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