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My child is introvert. How can I improve his social skills?

24 Aug
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User's Question

Hi,

 

My son is 8 years old; he is a shy child, not very naughty, he has very few friends, special thing is, he has only a couple of friends at a time. He is uncomfortable in large groups. Overall I can say, he is introvert, he speaks about his thoughts and feelings to me sometimes, otherwise neither he complains nor demands. But this is having a negative impact on his school reputation. Because of his peaceful nature, his classmates are taking advantage, he is being punished for someone else's mistake and he is not having the courage to tell the truth to the teacher, he cannot even complain if someone is disturbing him. He doesn't sportingly participate in classroom discussions; he is under-confident if selected for extempore or such public speech; because he is shy, he never gets chosen for a pivotal role in the annual concerts; he is made to stand at the corner queue of the singers; I am afraid, this will gradually break his self confidence, I cannot force teachers to show him some favour, how can I improve my son's social skills?

24 Aug
Dr. Ibrahim Abunada

Doctors Answer

Aug 24, 2016 11:36 AM

Dear user, it is very annoying for the parents to have a child with behavioral or emotional apparent problem. However, Some children who are considered shy are highly sensitive, meaning very aware of and strongly affected by their environment. Others are introverted, meaning that they need time away from other people to renew their energy. Some children are so absorbed in their own projects and ideas that they're simply less interested in social interaction. The good news is that most kids can learn to manage social anxiety so they can connect happily with others, enter new groups, and speak up for themselves. They just need a little extra support such as;

  1. Nurture your child by noticing her needs and responding to them.

Highly sensitive baby chimps given to extremely nurturing mothers became leaders in their group, while their equally sensitive siblings raised by "average" chimp mothers seemed anxious and fearful throughout life. Responsive mothering helps sensitive little ones learn to calm themselves and manage their reactions. That allows their heightened sensitivity to become an asset, because it makes them more responsive to the needs of their peers and better at negotiating group situations.

  1. Empathize with your child’s worries and avoid shaming him.

Acknowledging what he feels, without negative judgment, helps him to feel good about himself. Giving him the impression that there is something wrong with him will just make him feel worse about himself, and therefore more insecure. Empathizing with your child will also help him develop empathy, which will enhance his social skills and help him connect with others.

  1. Model confident behavior with other people. Kids learn from watching us.

That means being friendly to strangers, offering help to others, and modeling a relaxed attitude about the social interactions of all kinds.

  1. Teach your child basic social skills to respond to both adults and children.

Kids often need to be taught to make eye contact, shake hands, smile, and respond to polite chit-chat appropriately. Make games out of social skills and practice at home. Just grab two teddy bears and have them act out scenarios in a funny way to get your child laughing, which defuses the child's anxiety. During your show, ask your child frequently "What should he say? What should she do?"

  1. Help your child learn how to make friends.

Role play with your child how to notice and respond when another child initiates, how to join a game at the playground, how to introduce themselves to another child at a party, and how to initiate a playdate. For instance, kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first, and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in. It can really help to read books about social skills with your child and then role play. Several good books are listed at the end of this article, for children of different ages.

  1. Provide your child with small daily opportunities to interact with others.

Socially anxious children need down time, of course, especially if they're introverts. But they also need plenty of opportunities to practice their social skills. And remember that empathizing doesn’t mean being over-protective. Applaud every little step he takes on his own.

  1. Don't push your child to perform.

Some children like telling jokes or showing off their new ability for Grandma, but many kids hate it. Enjoy your unique child without making him feel like he's only valued if he performs.

  1. Teach your child that one good friend is worth many acquaintances.

Some parents worry if their child isn't the life of the party. But what's important is that your child feel connected, like she has someone she can talk to, or someone he wants to play with at recess. It's not necessary to have a lot of friends, just a few good ones.

  1. Don’t create social anxiety by teaching young children to be afraid of strangers.

Instead, teach your child that he or she should always be with you, or with a teacher or trusted babysitter. If her special adult is with her, your child doesn’t need to be afraid of strangers. Once she’s old enough to begin walking home from school by herself, you can begin discussing how to keep herself safe.

  1. If your child seems generally fearful, consider that he's got some tears and fears inside that need to be expressed.

When kids experience something scary and don't feel safe at that moment, the fears get repressed. You can think of this as stuffing them in an emotional backpack, to be processed later. The problem is that humans don't willingly subject themselves to scary feelings. So often those tears and fears stay locked up inside. But since the body knows those emotions need to be felt to go away, the feelings are always trying to bubble up to get healed. Children who are trying to keep the fear at bay often become generally fearful and even rigid. If this describes your child, give her daily opportunities to giggle by playing games that dance just on the edge of fear -- bucking bronco rides, for instance. That takes the edge off anxiety. And when she feels safe enough to let those fears surface in tears, welcome her meltdown. On the other side of it, you'll have a less fearful, more flexible child. If you need further instructions and interventions you can consult an online therapist to get more help. Take Care