If you ask me, socialization is one of the most important things in life. In fact, it’s so essential that I’ve dedicated an entire blog post to the topic. But while there are many ways to help your child socialize — playdates with friends and family members, sleepovers at their friend’s house after school — sometimes kids just need a little extra help when it comes to making more friends outside of school hours. Here’s how:
You can’t plan playdates for your child‘s entire social life.
You can’t plan playdates for your child‘s entire social life. Playdates are an important part of a child‘s development, but they’re not the only way to socialize. Kids need time alone, too! They also need time with friends and family members who care about them and want them to feel loved and accepted by everyone around them.
The best thing you can do is encourage your child‘s friendships in any way possible—whether it’s through email exchanges or phone calls between parents (or even just having dinner together once a week). This will help him learn how to make friends on his own terms without feeling as though he has no choice but to do so because of parental pressure from an adult telling him what kinds of activities are acceptable for children at school/etc., which may actually cause him more harm than good when it comes down time finding out what type person he really wants himself become later on down the road.”
It’s not just about quantity, but also quality.
It’s not just about quantity, but also quality. Don’t assume that your child will get along well with the other kids, or that they’ll make friends easily. It doesn’t matter how many friends a kid has if they don’t like each other or are feeling bullied by others.
It’s also important to remember: socializing is an ongoing process! Kids need time and space to simply be kids without adult supervision, so don’t feel guilty if you’re not around all the time (or even at all).
Be sure you’re checking in with your child about how things are going.
- Make sure you’re checking in with your child.
- Ask how things are going and ask about the friends they’re making.
- Ask them what they like and don’t like about their friends, as well as any qualities that make them good friend to have.
Examine your own attitudes about friendship.
You can help your child learn by observing how you treat other people, including friends and family. You may be surprised to find that the way you talk about these relationships is more important than you think.
Remember that children are born with an innate desire to please others and feel good about themselves. If they see their parents having fun together or hanging out with friends, they will want that too! As adults, we tend to avoid talking about our lives because it feels awkward or embarrassing—but this doesn’t mean children won’t understand what’s going on in our heads as much as we do ourselves! Kids often pick up on subtle cues from adults; if yours say “I’m fine” when really there’s something bothering them (for example: “My friend broke her leg”), then chances are good that little one might end up feeling left out later on down the road because nobody talked openly enough about feelings during those early years of life development.*
Be willing to let people in — friends, teachers, coaches — and ask for help.
- You can help your child learn to be more social by being willing to let people in.
- If you’re uncomfortable with some of the activities or situations your child might encounter at school or elsewhere, talk with friends and family members about how you feel.
- Don’t be afraid of asking for help from professionals — they’re there for a reason! The teachers in your son’s class have expertise in teaching social skills and will be happy to share their knowledge with him as well.
Consider if your child might benefit from extra support from a mental health professional.
If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, the good news is that they can receive treatment. But if you’re not sure if this applies to your child, consider asking their pediatrician or school psychologist for advice.
If your child does have social skills challenges and may benefit from extra support from a mental health professional (such as an occupational therapist or speech-language pathologist), it can be helpful for parents to know how best to prepare their child for the process ahead of time. You should also make sure you have enough information about what services are available in the community where you live so that when it comes time for them to see someone about their condition, there won’t be any surprises at all!
Don’t be afraid to make connections between your child‘s friend group and yours as an adult. Just make sure you do so in a way that’s respectful of the children involved.
You’re not the only adult in your child‘s life. You’re not even the first adult, and you might not be around for long. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to treat other adults like babysitters or playmates—it’s important that they have their own relationships with each other, too!
Your role as a parent is more than just offering advice; it’s also about being supportive and encouraging when one child needs help (or feels like they can’t do something). But don’t overstep your boundaries either: if someone else wants to talk about something with your child but you think talking about it would go against what makes sense for that moment, let them know so that everyone feels comfortable being themselves around each other.
Kids need social time outside of school, but that doesn’t have to mean playdates all the time.
The good news is that your child will probably have many more playdates than you do, so there’s no need to stress about how often or long they’re going. The bad news? Your kid might not want to go on any of them!
The best thing you can do is just let your child be who they are—and let them make mistakes as they try new things. This means encouraging them to be themselves, but also letting them know that sometimes people aren’t comfortable with each other and need time before getting close again (even if it was fun).
As we’ve seen, there are lots of ways to make sure your child is getting the social support they need. There’s no one right way to do it, and even if you’re doing everything right in terms of structure and consistency, sometimes kids just don’t want to go on playdates with their friends. That doesn’t mean that you should stop trying! But it does mean that you need to be willing to listen to what your child says about how they feel about being included in these events and then make adjustments accordingly. Don’t let other people’s expectations of what “normal” looks like get in the way of making sure that every child gets regular opportunities for positive interactions outside school hours.