Do you worry about your child’s ability to socialize with friends and initiate with peers? Does your child demonstrate a shy temperament? Follow these simple strategies to encourage your shy child to improve peer relationships.
Check in with your child about her expectations.
Is your child satisfied with the state of her affairs? Does she prefer to be the quiet one in the bunch? Is she content with limited exposure with friends outside of school? Finding out what your child’s goals are is helpful to resolving your own questions as now you can better help her meet her expectations. If your goal is to have your child be the social butterfly and she is telling you she prefers not, it is up to you to reformulate your thinking about what to expect. If you still feel like it would be in her best interest to improve face time with friends, encourage her to set up plans with a friend outside of school at least once a week. She can choose the peer and the activity. This is helping facilitate necessary social skills and interactions as well as meeting both your goals. If your child wishes for more in terms of peer relationships, validate her feelings and provide solutions to help her increase peer interaction.
Role-play scenarios to increase confidence.
Setting up time to practice conversation, initiation, and self-expression in non-triggering environments will allow your child the time to practice these skills. Another fun option would be to set up your child with a more outgoing sibling, cousin, or family friend who she feels comfortable with to practice age-appropriate social skills.
Don’t push but motivate.
Before entering into social gatherings, have a conversation with your child about how she imagines this situation will go. Arm her with options that she can engage in such as a variety of questions she can ask, activities that she can initiate and self-coping strategies she can implement if she does not want to interact with people (spend time with mom, offer to help the host, watch TV, bring a book to read). Preparation and planning is key to reduce any anxiety that may occur when in social situations.