You’ve probably encountered kids at the grocery store who tell you their life story in 5 minutes and want to know why you’re buying broccoli, wearing a pink shirt and where you’re going tomorrow. Then there’s your child who gets nervous even saying hi to other kids. Find out how to help your kids socialize with others so they feel comfortable talking and interacting with their peers.
Practice, Practice, Practice with Your Kids
Some kids are naturally social.
They don’t hesitate to walk up to other kids and start talking as if they’ve known them their whole lives.
For other children, it takes more effort to be social. You can help break those barriers down for your child with practice, practice, practice. Be that kid on the playground your child wants to socialize with but doesn’t know where to begin. Practice a simple introduction, such as “Hi! I’m Becky. What’s your name?” or “Hi! Want to play?” Your positive tone as you practice will help ease and prepare her for what other kids are going to say when she’s out there putting the practice to good use.
Show Them How to Establish Great Friendships
Establishing great friendships is a perfect platform to teach socialization skills. Your child may have friends at school or in the neighborhood but do they have a few really solid friendships?
Help your child establish friendships that extend into that BFF territory.
The skills they develop as they engage in conversation with their really close friends will help them when they branch out into meeting new friends.
Prepare Them for Certain Situations
A little prep work goes a long way when it comes to helping your kids socialize. If you’re headed to a birthday party or simply to the park, it can be helpful to prepare your child on what to expect.
Engage in pretend play. Be the birthday girl and let your child wish you a happy birthday. Be the kid at the park playing by yourself who looks like she needs a friend to play princesses and castles with. By talking them through the situation, they won’t be overwhelmed when they show up to the birthday party and find there are 30 other kids there too and they don’t know anyone else, for example.
Give Them Opportunities to Socialize
Every opportunity you give your child to be around other children helps them to learn how to socialize. Even watching the other kids socialize can be a good experience for her to learn from. In other words, you don’t have to push her to get out there and join in. Let her take it all in and slowly she’ll progress toward being social right along with the other children.
Know When to Seek Help
Kids who aren’t very social are usually called shy. For some, this simply takes time to overcome. For other children, it could mean there’s an underlying issue you and your child’s pediatrician need to address.
Don’t be afraid of bringing up your concerns to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician may have recommendations on additional ways to help your child overcome her socialization hurdles. But don’t let that be the end of the conversation.
Update your pediatrician on your child’s progress and get a second opinion if needed to ensure there is not something else going on with your child. There’s a big difference between a 2 year old who doesn’t seem social and an 8 year old who can’t carry a conversation with another child.