Help Your Child to Build Social Skills
If there are no medical or intellectual disabilities in the way, helping your child meet developmental milestones is mostly a breeze when he is a baby. You probably didn’t break a sweat while guiding your child as he took his first steps. But as he gets older and starts navigating the complex intricacies of social interaction, knowing how to help your child progress becomes more complicated. You may not be able to make friends for your child, but you can help him improve his social skills so that he is better prepared to make friends on his own.
Model and Explain Positive Social Behavior
You are your child’s first role model. The best way to help your child master the art of positive social behavior is to emulate it for her in your own social interactions. Establish good eye contact and mind your manners when you are interacting with your family members and friends so that your child can see how it’s done. Explain to her that she can infer people’s moods by observing their facial expressions and body language. Model appropriate ways to respond to different moods.
Engage In Role Playing Activities
In addition to modeling social behavior for your child, you can help him practice it through role playing exercises. For extra guidance, script simple every day conversations that you and your child can practice with each other. During role play, be sure to emphasize the importance of eye contact as well as reading and responding appropriately to a variety of moods.
Organize Play Dates
While modeling, explanations and role playing will help your child develop her social skills, giving her opportunities for hands-on practice in real-world situations is also a critical component of helping your child to make friends. Proactively seek out opportunities for your child to interact with other kids her age in a variety of social situations. Set up your child for success by choosing activities that she enjoys in a setting where she will feel comfortable and free to focus on building her friendship skills.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
Some kids will naturally be more extroverted than others. If your child is shy or socially reserved, expect and accept that he will be less outgoing than other children. Consider your child’s personality and be reasonable about your expectations. Avoid imposing your own social expectations on your child or comparing him to siblings or others whose personalities may be different.