It is important for parents to remember that while every child is created equally, they are also created very differently. Not every child is a social bug and not every child feels comfortable in the many social situations that come up throughout childhood. Some kids are naturally shy and feel extreme anxiety or discomfort when pushed into social scenarios without their Mommy or Daddy nearby to hold their hand.
If our children look very unhappy when placed in social situations, there are ways to make it a smoother process for them. It may take a lot of practice, but with time, your child will get used to being around people and may begin to enjoy the social interaction over being on their own. Here’s what you can do to help your child feel more comfortable, improve their social skills and get them started on building long-lasting relationships with their peers.
After School Recreational Fun
By encouraging our children to try activities outside of school hours, they can learn to enjoy meeting new people on a regular basis. I remember going to Girl Guides, playing volleyball and learning how to tap dance and swim. I had so much fun learning new skills that it was inevitable that I would make many friends along the way. If you enroll your child in afterschool activities at an early age and include activities that involve group participation, they will be used to other kids and working with others to achieve goals.
Be an Example at All Times
Whenever you are out and about with your child, be social and reach out to others. Meet and greet others and inquire about other people’s lives. Your child will see how you talk to people and most likely will pick up the same skills. It is important to be polite and treat others with respect so that your child will follow your example, and then hopefully, they will make new friends along the way.
Making New Friends as a Family
When parents hold family gatherings and social events on a regular basis, kids get used to seeing new faces and hearing new stories. I know that growing up with my parent’s friends kids helped me learn social skills at a young age. As the parent, you can work on improving your own skills by making new friends who have children around your son or daughter’s age.
Practice Eye Contact
This is a great skill to teach your little ones. Whenever you speak with your child, maintain eye contact. Even from the young toddler age of two, you can teach your little one to stay connected with you. Express to them that eye contact is very important when you speak with someone as it shows you are interested in what another person has to say and it displays confidence.
Some of these actions may help your child break free of their need to isolate and may help them make friends for life, but do not expect it to happen overnight. Learning how to be social is a long process for those who like to be on their own and may require a lot of participation from both the child and parents.
How do you encourage your child to be more social with their peers and new people?