Does Your Child Lack Social Skills?

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Family, Mental Health

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Have you noticed that your child doesn’t like to be in social situations? Maybe they struggle with communicating with others their age? You want your child to be social and to enjoy being with others. That’s how they make friends and find those connections that last lifetime. Well, what do you do when your child doesn’t want to be with others? The question is why doesn’t my child like to be in social situations? Why do they lack social skills?

girl by mother's side being shy, lack social skills

Kids Who Lack Social Skills

It is difficult to watch your child standing alone while all the other kids have gone off with other kids. Or when they tell you they are sitting alone at lunch or playing alone at recess. It’s even more difficult when they are not getting invited to birthday parties and other social events. You expect your child to go out with friends or have play dates with kids their age on the weekends. When that doesn’t happen it hurts.

The question “Why doesn’t my child like to be in social situations?” is valid. I think it might harder to swallow when they don’t seem to care. But kids who lack social skills have difficulty making friends. And friendships are crucial to the social emotional development of kids and teenagers. Forcing them to socialize causes stress for you and for them. So instead, help them to build social skills to connect with others in a way that is comfortable for them.

Interacting in social situations is natural for some kids, but for kids who lack social skills it’s complicated. Often it takes a lot of time and lots of trial and error. The stress from social situations can cause a child to become upset or grumpy and they may misbehave. This can cause stress for everyone in the family. 

Some questions to ask your child:

  • What are you  interested in?
  • Are you interested in having friends?
  • If so, would you like a few or a lot?
  • Do you know what to say when you want to play with another child?

Challenges in being in Social Situations

girl with hands over eyes, lack social skills
  • Trouble with focus
  • Difficulty in knowing what to say
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity

Introvert Behaviors

  • They observe first and act later.
  • They make decisions based on their interests not on what’s popular.
  • They need time to become comfortable with people.
  • They may struggle in group settings.
  • They may have one friend.
  • They need alone time to recover from large groups.

Anxious Behaviors

  • Complains of headaches or stomachaches
  • Sweats when in intimidating situations
  • Avoids joining in class activities
  • Avoids social situations with other kids
  • Withdrawn or reserved in group situations

HELP YOUR CHILD

There are times when all children may struggle with social skills. Especially after the past three years of less time in social situations. As a result of Covid, many kids had less contact with children their age. Time with peers is important so that kids practice interacting with others their age.  Some things to do to support your child are:

  • Know that it will take time. Start with asking your child what their interested in and choose one or two activities they may want to do. This may be with a small group of other students or maybe one on one.
  • Practice and model how to interact with other kids his age. Actually practice with each other. Many kids do not have the words to start a conversation or join a conversation. 
  • Plan to have a friend over so your child is at ease. Do this a couple times and then maybe your child will be more willing to go to another child’s home to play.
  • Plan for your child to join a club or activity they are interested in. This may help them connect with others who have similar interests. 
  • Avoid speaking for your child. 
  • Make sure to praise your child for their bravery and let them know how proud you are. 
  • Do not label your child as shy
  • Tell your child in advance about social situations. 
  • Practice self-calming activities with your child.
  • Practice playing games.

Greetings to use and practice with your child

1. Hi, how are you?

2. Hi, I’m Luke. What’s your name?

3. What do you like to play?

Once your child learns how to be in social situations, they will become more comfortable. They may still like small groups or one on one time. It will help them to be successful in school, work and life. Social skills help kids to: 

  • Gain self-confidence
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Make friends
  • Learn strengths and weaknesses
  • Gain awareness of others feelings
  • Gain empathy

After observing and supporting your child to help him feel more comfortable in social situations if they are still struggling, reach out to others to help. If your child is still struggling with social situations here are a few specialists you could contact to support your child:

  • Child psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Speech language pathologist
  • pediatrician

Conclusion

Parenting is a challenging job. You are trying your best and sometimes it doesn’t seem to work. Remember, you are not alone. We are here to help any time you need us. You can connect with us for a free session by clicking the link below.

Does Your Child Lack Social Skills?

by Dr. Kim Grengs, D.Ed., Parent Coach

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