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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.