Children with social anxiety may struggle to form relationships with their peers even though they want to. OTC social anxiety medication can alleviate symptoms, but it’s still important to teach children social skills and create opportunities to meet kids their age. This summer, support your children’s socialization with these five tips.
1. Support Extracurricular Activities
Finding people with similar interests is one of the best ways to make friends. As a parent, you can facilitate your children’s interests with extracurricular activities:
- Art classes
- Writing groups
- Dance classes
- Robotics clubs
Older children can also find resources online, such as forums and social media groups. If your kids use the internet to make friends, keep an eye on their activities and who they’re talking to.
2. Teach Communication Skills
Communicating with others is an essential life skill. Some kids may naturally communicate well, while others struggle. Teaching kids communication skills can help them overcome their fear of making a bad impression.
A good start is teaching kids to be polite. Saying hello and asking after the other person are staples in small talk and easily learned by young children. As children get older, have discussions about what is and isn’t polite to ask about. Explain what boundaries are and why they should respect them.
3. Model Empathy With Role Playing
Natural anxiety medication is a positive step in alleviating children’s worry about interacting with others, but they need more resources to help them engage. Role-playing is an excellent way to help kids practice conversations.
First, come up with practical situations:
- Asking if you can sit with someone
- Introducing yourself to someone you don’t know
- Inviting someone to play
As the parent, you’ll play the part of the other child, allowing your kid to try different approaches. Often, having a few set phrases in their back pocket can give youngsters the confidence to initiate conversation.
4. Talk About Personal Space
Personal space varies by culture and even families; since this topic is so complex, it’s crucial to talk about it with your kids. In some cases, it can even be a matter of safety.
A good time to start the discussion is during your talk about boundaries. Explain that just like you shouldn’t push people to talk about certain topics, you shouldn’t touch people when they don’t want you to.
Also, let your kids know they have the right to personal space. Help them come up with a few ways to reinforce their boundaries, such as saying, “I need some space.”
5. Discuss Active Listening
Active listening is key to building strong relationships where both parties feel respected. You can teach kids active listening during your conversations with them:
- Repeating phrases back to ensure you heard correctly
- Mirroring your child’s body language
- Making eye contact
Keep in mind that neurodivergent people often find eye contact uncomfortable. If your children experience discomfort while making eye contact, have them look at your forehead or nose instead.
Everyone gets nervous about meeting new people, but social anxiety adds another hurdle for kids trying to make friends. With natural anxiety medication and a focus on developing social skills, children can connect with others and form lasting bonds.