Why Are Children So Hard To Socialise?
Many parents are afraid that their children will struggle to be socialised and as a result, they can be reluctant to put their child into a situation where they had to interact with others for fear of them being socially awkward.
This article provides some helpful tips on how you can encourage your child to go out and meet new people.
Encourage your child to mix with their peers
Parents often worry that their child isn't going to make friends. However, this is a pivotal part of childhood and will most likely happen naturally without too much interference from Mum and/or Dad.
Pushing your child outside their comfort zone can be difficult to start with but it will encourage them to meet other children and become more sociable adults.
Positive reinforcement is important when you want your child to mix with others. For example, if they go out and play with someone new, give them praise such as 'good job' or 'well done'. You could also ask questions like: "Did you have fun playing with so-and-so?"
This type of positive reinforcement will help to encourage them in the future.
Don't force your child to talk if they don't want to
Sometimes it can be tempting to force your child to talk or interact with other people. However, if you push them too far they will become overwhelmed and socialisation can fail completely.
Give your child space by playing near them but not directly with them. For example, you could play nearby on the swing while encouraging your child to swing next to you. This way they are close enough for comfort but are still mixing socially.
Teach them how to introduce themselves and how to be polite
If you want your child to mix socially then they will need the appropriate social skills. Teaching them how to introduce themselves is an important step if you want them to have friends for life.
You could go over the steps with them one at a time or simply list some key points on a piece of paper so that they can refer back when needed.
For example, teach your child how to say their name followed by 'pleased to meet you'. Remember to use short words so that they are not overwhelmed.
Once they know this, encourage them to use it whenever possible and praise their efforts along the way.
Be patient if your child takes longer than others
Every child has their own individual needs and learning styles. While other children may learn socialisation skills quickly, your child might need more time.
This cannot and should not be seen as a negative trait and they should not receive any extra pressure to change their personality.
As soon as they are ready to meet others, they will do so naturally. Continue to encourage them but don't push too hard or you may set yourself back later on.
Let them know that it's okay not everyone will like them, but it doesn't matter
One of the hardest things for a child to learn is that not everyone will like them. However, it is an important life lesson and one that they will need to know as they grow older.
Reassure your child that it's okay if someone doesn't like them and that there are plenty of other people in the world who will appreciate them for who they are - this will help them to be more open when meeting new people in the future.
Of course, you should always be there for them when they need you but try not to smother them. Children need time to grow and develop into their own person - something that cannot happen if they are constantly surrounded by their parents.
Find friends for your child who have similar interests/personality types
If you want your child to have a friend for life, find them someone who is similar in interests or personality type. This gives your child a great starting point and will make it easier for them to mix and socialise with other who have similar interests.
It can be difficult for children to make friends if they are different from everyone else. So, by finding someone who is similar, you will be giving them a head start.
Hobbies and interests are a great way to get to know someone better. If your child has a hobby or interest that they can share with others, it will be easier for them to mix and socialise.
Encourage them to join clubs or groups that focus on their hobby or interest. This is a great way for them to meet like-minded people who they can chat to and potentially make friends with.
Teach your children empathy and compassion for others
One of the most important things you can teach your child is empathy and compassion for others. This will help them to be more understanding and tolerant of other people, no matter who they are or what they believe in.
Empathy and compassion go hand-in-hand with socialisation skills and will help your child to get along with others better. It's never too early to start teaching these values, so start as soon as possible.
Practice conversation starters with your child
If your child is of school-age, they might have learned about conversation starters. If so, use this as an opportunity to practice what they've learnt together.
For example, you could create a list of questions to ask such as 'What was the best thing that happened today?' or 'What would be your ideal job and why?'. Encourage them to think of creative answers and talk through their thoughts with them afterwards.
Using examples will help to reinforce socialisation skills and learning at the same time. So, if they bring home homework that mentions these things, use it as a chance for you both to improve together!
In the end, it is important for parents to allow children to develop without pressure or force. Allowing them time and space will help them grow into their own person with a natural ability to socialise as they please.
In addition, having friends who share similar interests can go a long way in helping your child learn how to be sociable. They should also always have empathy and compassion for others while understanding that not everyone will like them at all times.
So what are some of these other principles you've applied when trying to foster an empathetic attitude among your kids? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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