Social interactions help a child to mold her personality and identity. Without social skills, a child will not only struggle to make friends, but will also have a difficult time interacting with teachers, and eventually her bosses and colleagues once she starts work.
Help your child make friends
- Children should be encouraged to mingle with other kids and make friends, but you shouldn’t force the issue.
- If you have a temperamentally quiet child, it’s important to encourage her to talk to friends and other people without forcing her to do so.
- Shy kids are too scared to go out and make friends, and so they need positive affirmation.
- Don’t make negative comments and say things like ‘You’re so naughty; no wonder you don’t have any friends’ or ‘Come on, you just have to be more confident, pull up your socks and get out there’.
- It’s important to say positive things like ‘I know it’s scary to go to school, but look at all those children – you can make friends with some of them today. If one of them doesn’t want to be your friend, I’m sure there’ll be other kids who will want to play with you’.
- If you’re concerned about your child’s lack of friends or her ability to socialise and make friends, try to help her. Organise play dates with other children and ask your child’s teacher to help as well.
Signs your child is struggling to interact socially
- She’s very shy at the age of two years, and isn’t exploring her environment, even though she should be.
- She’s very irritable and doesn’t want to leave your side.
- She’s overly cautious when you encourage her to play with other children.
- She struggles to make friends at school.
- She’s unable to share and take turns.
- She sits on her own or with a teacher during break time.
Tips to encourage your child’s social development
- Model social behaviour for your child. For example, be the first to greet a friend or acquaintance and strike up conversations with people in front of your child.
- When you’re at the supermarket, encourage your child by giving her the grocery money to give to the cashier, or if she’s a little older, you can ask her to order a pizza.
- Enrol your child in creative or therapeutic classes like art, yoga, dance or soccer. These activities will enhance and develop her social skills.
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