A child having difficulties in socializing with other kids can be a huge worry to parents. They might imagine their child in depressing situations of being alone while their peers are playing in the distance. This is a completely normal fear for any parent to have, but for the most part, your child will find their own way of socializing and will eventually meet their own group of friends where they will fit right in. Children will learn to socialize as they grow up and meet more people. But if you are truly concerned about how your child socializes with their peers, there are some ways to help them build their confidence and comfortably interact with kids around their age.
1. Know your child’s personality and temperament.
The first thing that you should think about is your child’s personality. Some people are born extroverts, while others are naturally introverts, which may be the case with your child. It may be that your child enjoys being alone or socializing with only a few people. They might be the kind of individual that requires a lot of recharging time after major socialization. If you think your child may be an introvert, you should never force them to talk and mingle with other kids if they don’t want to. Their social tolerance will dictate how they make friends in their own way. You can still help them socialize if they find it hard to make friends, but if they prefer fewer people to interact with, your acceptance will help them feel better about themselves.
2. Work with their teachers.
If you think your child yearns for the company of their peers but finds it difficult to make friends, especially in school, you can opt to reach out to their teachers. The teachers are like the second parents of your child. They can see your child’s academic progress and how they are growing into more social beings. For children in daycare centers and preschool, the teachers are usually very accommodating and can easily arrange for the young students to be in more activities that encourage socialization. For older children in school, you may have to arrange for a meeting with their teachers to address better your worry about your child’s trouble with socialization. They can then help in ways like partnering your child with someone of the same personality for assignments and pair-works or forming a seating plan where your child can be comfortable while being around those who the teacher thinks can be good friends with them.
3. Encourage them to reach out by giving compliments or asking questions.
It might be that your child is afraid of starting any kind of interaction. In this case, you should begin by encouraging them to reach out and take risks. Teaching them the importance of working for their wants and needs can be a life-long lesson that they’d take by heart. You have to let them know that if they decide to make friends but are turned down, they can always brush it off and approach others who may be more willing to hang with them.
But there are also more concrete ways that you can help. For one, giving your kid some conversation starters can be a good way to spark a connection with someone easily. Mundane questions like “What is your favorite color?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?” can start a conversation and lead to many other things to talk about. Even plainly encouraging them to ask about their curiosities about others politely can help them to talk and express themselves in any situation. Giving out compliments can also help to some extent.
4. Teach them to manage their verbal and non-verbal cues.
If you find someone who always frowns and crosses their arm in front of their chest, you may not want to talk to them in the first place. With this image in mind, you can also teach your child to manage how they appear to other people. Always smiling and having open body language can encourage others to talk to you without having to engage in conversation. Teach them that they should always try to be welcoming, both in their actions (facial expressions, posture, eye contact, etc.) and in their words (tone, politeness, and when to speak and listen), because this attracts good people and helps them to make more meaningful relationships.
Your child may need a bit of your help in making more connections with other kids, but you shouldn’t worry too much because they are still young and will continue to meet more people as they grow older. They will eventually learn how to make friends and nurture long-lasting friendships. Your most important job in these situations is to be there beside them, constantly giving encouragement and helping them stand back up when they stumble while socializing with others.