When your child is introverted, it can be tempting to try to make friends for him, speak for him, and become more hands-on when it comes to his social life than is necessary. Especially for extroverted parents, seeing your child struggle to socialize can be a challenge. These do’s and don’ts can help you and your child make some small strides.
Do give role playing a try. Using dolls or stuffed animals, practice saying hello, asking simple questions, and having back-and-forth conversations. Simply prompting your child to ask to share a toy or to explain what she is doing to one of her stuffed animals can give her some confidence.
Do make plans for a play date. If your child is enrolled in daycare or preschool, she might be having trouble interacting with other children in a large group setting. Having a playdate with one other child will give her the chance to practice her role playing conversations in a smaller, more intimate environment. She can then take those skills that she is learning and bring them with her to school!
Do try baby steps. Start with a simple wave or a high five. Then ask your child to work her way up to a hello. After that, you may be able to encourage her to ask a simple question or answer quick questions posed by others.
Don’t put too much pressure your child. If you sense that he is not ready to interact because he is crying, hiding his face, or withdrawing, simply tell him that he can try again when he is feeling more ready. Forcing him to interact will only increase his stress levels.
Don’t worry about numbers. Your child may never be the most popular kid in school, and that is OK. Having just one or two very close friends can make for a happy, sociable child, and many adults prefer fewer close friendships to massive numbers of friends.
Don’t hover over your child. While it may be hard to step away when your child is around other kids at the playground, at the library, or at a birthday party, letting him try to enter into social interactions on his own will strengthen his capabilities.
Is your child a bit introverted? Have you taken steps to encourage her to socialize and make friends at daycare, at the playground, or with the neighborhood kids? Let us know what has worked for your family in the comments section.