Some children seem to be born gregarious. They happily enter into any group or conversation. They are swift to join teams, and they love having lots of friends over. However, other kids are more shy, unassuming, and just don’t have the same social skills. If you are worried that your child is not interacting with peers, keep reading to find out how you can help your child make friends at school.
Make Every Day A Learning Opportunity
Always remember that your child watches everything you say and do. How you greet the mail person, how you interact with everyone at the grocery store, or what you do when meeting a stranger provide clues for how to be social. This is especially helpful for a child who is not socially comfortable.
Review what happened at each encounter and ask if they thought you did a good job relating with people you met and why? Get them talking about the best ways to be sociable.
Start With Their Interests
Does your child always have their head in a book? Do they kick the soccer ball around in the backyard? Do they enjoy drawing? Use these familiar interests to find situations where they will feel especially comfortable.
Maybe the school has a book club. Ask if he or she would like to take a drawing class for kids only. Trying out for soccer might be too much for them right now, but you could take them to watch practices. The idea is to find things they already like, and they may feel more comfortable around kids with similar interests.
Develop Listening Skills And Empathy
Impress upon your shy child the importance of not only listening to others, but to watch how others behave. Explain the value of empathy for another. If they notice another child reluctant to join in, it can give them a real excuse to talk to the other shy child and share feelings. They may also feel like they are caring for another.
Cooperation at daycare, on the playground, or in the classroom forces engagement with another child. Being a good sport, sharing, or working on a project with another creates a situation that encourages interaction and being social. It is important to remember that your child will engage in more parallel and associate play from ages 18 months to 4. Parallel and associate play is where a child may engage in the same activity or be near other kids but may not always engage with others or do the same activities. Teaching cooperation is still helpful but you may not witness your child engaging with others until closer to age 4.
Don’t Make It Stressful
Be aware that sometimes forcing these suggestions on a shy child can be stressful. The result could be a further withdrawal. An introverted child may not stay that way all their lives, or they could grow into a well-rounded adult with a few really good friends.
Contact Pediatric Associates at one of our locations if you have real concerns about your child’s ability to make friends at school.