“Isn’t that William and Yovan from your class? Go over and say ‘hi’!” Jim’s mother was waving to his friends and trying to drag Jim over. “No!” Jim snarled. Can’t you just leave me alone? I hate my class and I hate everyone. I just don’t want to attend this graduation party!” Without another word, he stomped out of the door – leaving his mother behind.
Some children really hate to attend social events. However, is it something to worry about?
If your child is able to
- interact with others happily under certain circumstances
- have at least one relationship with another child where they like each other mutually
- have someone to sit and chat with during lunch
Then, it is not a cause for concern. Your child is simply an introvert who prefers quieter and smaller interactions.
Yet, if you find your child routinely pulling themselves out of social issues due to the following issues:
- they may have been rejected before and fear the possibility of being rejected once more
- they feel anxious and are unable to reach out to peers
You may have an issue on your hands.
1 out of every 5 babies are born with the ‘inhibited’ temperament. That means, they are very easily overwhelmed and get very upset when there is a change in routine, people and environment. One theory states that they may have more sensitive nervous system than others which makes them harder to calm down. These children may even refuse to look at unfamiliar people or be prone to anxiety attacks when they are older.
Most of the time, these children really enter a vicious cycle of not being able to make friends. In the end, most end up in the cycle illustrated below:
When this happens many times, they will believe that they are a social failure and will be very sensitive to any signs that they may be rejected.
When parents are naturally outgoing, they are unable to understand why their children are unable to be in social situations. When parents also have issues mixing around, they either become overly cautious by protecting their children from fearful situations. Sometimes, they believe that they should go all out and demand that their children must mix around. This only adds on to the anxiety of the child.
Research has shown that ⅓ of these inhibited children tend to grow out of these inhibitions due to positive parenting strategies, This involve striking a delicate balance between accepting your child’s feelings and nudging them forward with small encouragements. These small steps actually contribute to greater social competence and confidence over time.
Strategies to Help Your Child Blend In
Observe before Blending In
Never ask your child to ask “Can I play?” while others are playing as this interrupts the flow of the game and mischievous kids may answer “No.”. Rather, get your child to look for ways to blend in such as running around as well in games of tag or look for sticks to contribute to a building project.
Look for Individuals or Groups of Four or More
Research shows that groups of twos or threes are least likely to welcome someone into their group as they are more close knit. Rather, look for groups of fours for higher chances pf being accepted. If your child do not succeed on first try, don’t worry. research also shows that even most well-liked children also face rejection ¼ of the time.
Use Friendly Body Language
A smiling face, a relaxed and open body posture, interested eye contact and an upbeat tone of voice all really signify openess to friendship. If your child is always hunched in a corner with a book and refuses to interact with other kids, this sends a very strong negative message to others. What happens if your child protests? You will need to explain to him/her that it is now a manners issue instead. They can do the reading anytime.
Practice Simple Conversations
One simple way for your child to interact with others is to ask open-ended questions about others instead of talking about themselves. Use role-playing and encourage your child to look at others in the eye. If they are unable to look at others in the eye, try looking at the bridge of their noses! This will seem less scary.
Find Interest Groups
Your child should have a specific interest by now. Encourage your child to join these groups so that they are able to interact with peers with similar interests.
Use Voice Recordings
Some children become mute in front of strangers. Encourage your child to talk and record their voices. They can role play or make funny sounds. After that, play them so that your child can get used to their voices.