Some kids are social butterflies, while others really struggle to feel comfortable talking to other kids. Here are some tips to help.
There are different reasons why some children struggle to socialize. Some kids have tried to interact with their peers but they ended up being rebuffed. This caused them to retreat back to the safety of their family or they keep to themselves. Nothing is more painful for a parent than to watch their child struggling and suffering rejection. You may have a child who is constantly at the receiving end of rejection and cruel taunts at school. If connecting with peers is difficult for your child, there is something that you can do to help.
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Understanding the Struggle
The first thing that a parent should do is to understand the struggle that your child is going through. You may be tempted to ignore the problem thinking that it will go away but it may only get worse. Understand that children who struggle with social skills are vulnerable to social isolation, loneliness, and bullying.
Fortunately, there are ways to teach children the skills that they need to connect with their peers and make healthy friendships. If you are willing to invest the time, there are some guidelines to follow that will help you to support your child.
Avoid Making Assumptions
It is not unusual for most adults to assume that there is something wrong with the child that is struggling. This assumption often causes parents to put unnecessary pressure on the child. While it is true that for most kids making friends comes naturally, others find the whole process confusing.
Don’t treat your child’s inability to make friends as a character flaw and don’t compare him with other children. The child is already finding it stressful dealing with his or her peers at school and the last thing he or she needs is to get pressure at home.
Problem Solving Strategies
The best way to help a child struggling to socialize is by teaching him the necessary skills. When you approach the issue like any problem that can be solved, it helps the child to see it as a skill that he or she can learn. Teach the child the basic social skills that he or she needs to make friends with.
Approach the subject as you would any academic subject. Spend time teaching the child how to make and keep friends. Use discussions, role play, games, rehearsals, and even videos, to teach the child how to engage with others. Identify and deal with common problems such as maintaining dialogue, initiating a conversation, or finding common interests.
Identify the Child’s Strengths
It is important to realize that your child may have problems when it comes to socializing, but he or she also has some activities that he or she enjoys. It is important to identify and highlight your child’s strengths. If your child is interested in certain subjects or activities, make sure that you highlight this.
Make a list of the child’s interests and remember that the activities they enjoy will determine who they end up socializing with. When you focus on the things that your child is doing successfully, you have something to build on. You should work with the natural strengths to come up with a plan to address the social challenges.
You need to identify the most pressing issues that the child has when trying to connect with others. Does the child struggle when it comes to making small talk? Does he or she find it difficult to talk about himself? Is it difficult for the child to understand other people’s views? When you know the most challenging areas for the child, you can come up with a list of priorities when it comes to building interpersonal skills. Chances are that your child will find it difficult to learn too many skills at once. By setting priorities, the child can master new skills day by day.
One effective way to help a child struggling with socialization is by providing plenty of opportunities for socialization. Help your child to form positive relationships in different social circles outside of school. It is also important to teach the child how to choose positive friendships.
NEXT: Kids Miss Out On Making Friends Because Of Social Distancing
Sources: psychologytoday.com, scarymommy.com, understood.org, childdevelopmentinfo.com.
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