Happy children holding hands in a park.

Social Development in Children:

How to Help Your Child Overcome Shyness and Make Friends

Learning how to behave in a group setting is an important step in social development in children. But, there will be times when children feel shy – and sometimes this can happen when you least expect it! This article will provide some helpful advice for social activities that help your child overcome shyness, be more self confident, and behave in different environments.

Social Skills for Children

Even the most confident child may behave differently in different social activities. He or she may be the leader when in everyday surroundings and with children they see regularly, but show a completely different behavior in unfamiliar places and with new people. Here, your child might hang back from the crowd, and sometimes might even cling to you instead of joining in with activities or conversations.

There are several explanations for your child’s shyness. It may be because they are a little timid and just might take a bit of time to be comfortable in unknown surroundings. Sometimes, they are just checking out a new place, and all the new people and sights overwhelm them until they have sat quietly for a while. For kids from nuclear families, they may not be used to having many people around them, as they are used to smaller groups.

While children usually grow out of this behaviour, you may end up wondering what you could do to help with their social development. Remember, sometimes we behave the same way that little children do when in unfamiliar surroundings. We, as adults, also sometimes need to take our time to get familiar with unknown places. As a parent, you can instill confidence in your child to be comfortable and settle into any scenario.

Helping Your Child’s Social Development

Here are five strategies and tips for social activities you can use to get your child to be more comfortable in social settings, helping them become less shy and more confident with others.

  1. Be a good role model.

    It’s important to model good social skills to your child. When you take your child to a park, talk to other kids and parents and say hello to them. Seeing you interact with other kids will encourage them to do the same.

  2. Support your child with appropriate social activities.

    Don’t just leave your kid alone with a huge bunch of kids – they may not be confident to play with a big group with no support. If your child is happy playing with one or two kids at a time, why not encourage him or her to do just that. They will gradually learn to make more friends – it’s just a matter of time!

  3. Plan a play-date.

    You can help your child be more comfortable with other kids by organising play dates or parties. Invite kids from the neighbourhood to come over and play with your child. Engage all the kids in a group activity or game, like an indoor treasure hunt or hide and seek (if you have enough space for everyone to do this safely!). Your child will soon start getting familiar with other children – and there will soon be a time when they will not need you to initiate games. These play-dates are also great opportunities to work on sharing, which is another important social skill for kids to have.

  4. Learn to predict and deal with potential sharing problems.

    Sometimes a child can feel insecure about sharing something, even if it is something as seemingly insignificant as a small toy. These small things can get blown out of proportion in stressful situations, causing a tantrum or tears from your child. A parent can learn to predict the signs of a meltdown and take efforts to prevent or minimise them.

  5. Be a play-date yourself.

    Spending some time with your children and playing with them is not only fun, but it also will help you understand what makes your children insecure and also what kind of games they like to play.

These are few gentle steps that can encourage positive social development without being too controlling. These might help your children to come out of their shell and experience the joys of friendship. Who knows, your tiny tot may grow up to be the yaaron ka yaar soon!

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