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HomeHealth & BehaviorSocial Skills

Ask the Experts

Is My Child Too Social?

By Dr. Joseph Gianesin, Behavioral Consultant

Question:

My daughter is a first-grader who is a very social child. Her teacher tells me that she is so worried or preoccupied with what everyone else is doing in class that she doesn't listen or pay attention to what she is supposed to be doing.

For example, she is always looking around at what everyone else is doing on a paper and doesn't listen. She also talks a lot in class.

Her teacher says that academically she is doing fine, but in time she is going to fall behind. We have had many talks about what to do. The teacher says to keep reinforcing to my daughter that she needs to concentrate and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

This is the year for building a foundation to good learning and I hope she will grow out of this as she matures but I was wondering if there is any advice you might have to help.

Answer:

When you are dealing with a very social child, manipulation of the surrounding environment is important. Ask the teacher to put her in a seating arrangement that does not encourage her overly social self to emerge.

You state that she is doing fine academically. I wouldn't worry that this will cause her to get behind later. She may outgrow the need to be quite so social and we really can't predict the future regarding this behavior.

I tend to view your daughter's social skills as a real strength. The need for channeling this behavior in the right direction through classroom activities can be easily done by the teacher. Having her participate and lead small discussion groups on the subject is one way to have her utilize her social skills. I often suggest to teachers that they have an activity table available to children who finish their work and need some enrichment. This can be a place where your daughter could go after she finishes her work in a quality manner. The key here is to capitalize on her strengths and to mold it in such a way that she grows both intellectually and academically.


Dr. Joseph Gianesin is a professor at Springfield College School of Social Work. He has more than 25 years of experience as a child and family therapist, a school social worker and a school administrator. Along with his academic appointment, Dr. Gianesin is a program and behavioral consultant for public schools in Massachusetts, helping them develop and manage programs for children with significant mental health problems.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

05/24/2010:
"I was/am a very social child(person). I used to watch peoples behavior all the time and i used this to my advantage, as in i could addapt to every situation and type of people. I had a period where i had a little fallback in school, but i regained this later on. Now you my advice to you is, to make sure your daughter has her own identity. it's very easy for overly social people, to subcome to other identities or addapts to every kind of identity(cause that is ( at least mine) our specialty ). and in that she will come(later in life) to a point where she doesn't really know.. who she is. Don't worry to much though. Sarah A. ( from the Netherlands)"
06/8/2009:
"My daughter is so social it is a distraction to all around her. She is in a Montessori setting where she is free to move about as she see fits which only feeds into over-socializing. What do I do?"
03/31/2008:
"Hi. I have a 7 month old daughter,and i think she's very non-social. She is generally very afraid of other people, wont smile at them, wont climb off my lap, and most of the time cries when she sees me leaving the room. So much so that she cries if i stand in front of her and not carry her with me. When we are out and about she wont sit in her pram because she's afraid of people around her. Is that normal, or have we just hardened her habits by continuing to hold her? Please help! THank you."
08/19/2007:
"Great advice. We have an extremely social third grader and this is something that we have dealt with since kindergarten. Many of her teachers let her read to the class instead of the teacher reading. It helps keep her social skills under control and at the same time increases her reading skills. Great idea for centers after they finish their work, 'in a quality manner.' Thanks!"
10/31/2006:
"i can relate to this article. My daughter is so socially advanced for her age, (6). She is very intelligent and I do not worry about her falling behind, but she wants to help and or do her classmates work. She likes to play the role of 'teacher'. I'm wondering in She is too advanced for her kindergarten class. The information in these articles is so helpful and enlightening. These are great tools for anyone raising any age child. Thank You.!! "
07/3/2006:
"My daughter is so pre-occupied with her class mates that she does not focus on the the teacher's instructions. My daughter has fallen behind and the teacher does not recognize that the reason for the poor focus is because she is too social. Help. Thanks."
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