Children display an amazing variety of social skills and styles. Some children like to have one or two close friends, while others are happier having a big group of buddies. Most children will eventually find their place in the social scene. However, learning social skills can be challenging at times for kids with extreme personality traits.
Children who are hyperactive, impulsive and/or disruptive for example, can sometimes struggle to make and keep friends. Such a child behaves chaotically, and has trouble waiting his turn during games and conversations.
If your child is hyperactive, try these tips to tame his social skills:
- Find a positive outlet for his energy. Let him tackle household chores that make good use of his energy. Have him run out to pick up the mail, move the garbage and recycling bins to the curb, and even rake the leaves for you!
- Watch him carefully in high-risk situations. Step in to avert his disruptive behavior when necessary, and give him specific, constructive feedback. Show how others are playing together and models for sharing, etc.
- Praise his positive behavior early and often. Frequent feedback is especially important for hyperactive children. Tell him right away when you “catch him being good.”
- Set well-defined playtime rules and boundaries. Children who tend to “bounce off the walls” feel more secure if they have rules to rein them in. For example, allow your child to run around at the park as long as he doesn’t push other children or go beyond certain boundaries (like the edge of the parking lot).
Tips to Nurture Social Skills in any Child
No matter what social skills a child has (or lacks), there are a few basic tips parents can try to improve social success:
- Find teachable moments in everyday life. Relationship skills and habits learned at home set the stage for how your child relates to others. For example, playing board games with the family – waiting for his turn and being a good sport – helps your child learn how to play cooperatively.
- Practice what you preach. Model good social skills for your child. Do you interrupt other people during conversations? Do you display road rage and honk your horn in heavy traffic? The example you set makes a bigger impression than you think.
- Get to know your child’s friends. Pay attention to how they interact with, influence, and react to your child’s behavior. Give your child feedback about what you observe.
- Praise the positive. Compliment your child when he treats others with respect and care. Give him specific feedback, such as telling him how patient and polite he was at his friend’s birthday party.
Did you know there are interventions to help your child develop social and friendship skills? Call Pediatric Therapies today to learn more about our unique programs that empower children and bring families together.