The Social Pendulum

There was a time when I feared my daughter would not even catch it when someone was being mean to her. Because of her receptive, expressive, and pragmatic language delays she is ripe for the type of bullying where the true bully convinces an intermediary to do their dirty work for them. She doesn’t catch the facial expressions and tone of voice that go with teasing. It would be pretty easy to imagine a scenario where she’s getting picked on and doesn’t even quite realize it, or at least doesn’t understand it enough to know how to handle it. The latter is recipe for disaster since when she doesn’t know how to handle things she pretty much explodes.

The pendulum, however, seems to be swinging in the other direction.

Now I fear that she will push everyone away by labeling them as mean. It seems like every little thing that happens her response is, “You’re so mean!” Siblings, parents, peers…the whole world has turned mean I guess…So maybe I don’t have to worry so much that she won’t recognize real true mean. Instead I wonder how long everyone will put up with being called mean when they really aren’t.

There are other scenarios where I’ve been concerned one way and then had to back pedal and consider the other side. First I was worried that she would be left out of bar tag (a popular playground game at our school), then I was worried that she was insisting on playing it too much. Is she sleeping too much or not enough? Obsessed with this then not interested at all…

All of these subtle social skills that seem to just fall into place for other children. So many ideas and concepts that I hadn’t even thought about before, and now have to figure out how to teach them to someone to whom they really just don’t make sense. First we’re explaining this side and then we’re explaining the other, and back and forth we go…

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