Helping Your Child To Be More Sociable

Perhaps you are worried that your child is having problems with classmates or in social settings. There is evidence that some children who are shorter than their peers may have more social and behavioral problems. Of course, every child is different. Some children are more outgoing than others, regardless of height. Because being comfortable in social situations is an important part of growing up, it may be helpful to talk with your child about how to get along with others.

What to look for

  • Does your child spend a lot of time alone (for instance, reading, playing video games or watching TV)?
  • Does your child make excuses to avoid being part of a group? For example, missing birthday parties or school field trips?
  • Does your child behave inappropriately in group situations - perhaps being extremely quiet or overly loud or silly?
  • Does your child seem depressed or nervous when group situations are coming up?

Talking with your child

  • It's OK for children to enjoy activities by themselves, but being alone too much of the time may not be emotionally healthy. Talk with your child about the importance of spending time with friends and family too.
  • Being able to get along in a group is an important part of life. In school and at work, we have to interact with other people. Explain to your child that it's important to learn how to relate to others as we grow up.
  • Take at least 10 minutes each day to have an uninterrupted talk with your child. Use this time to discuss what's happening at school, social events and any problems. Remember also to talk about any successes your child has had in day-to-day activities or in getting along with others.

Helping your child get along with others

  • Encourage your child to invite friends over to play, one friend at a time. Playing with a friend at home, where your child feels safe, can help ease the fear of being in other social situations.
  • Encourage your child to plan an outing, such as a trip to the zoo or a fun park, and invite several friends. Planning the event may help your child be less anxious about what will happen and may give your child a sense of control.
  • Find out if your child is interested in other group activities, such as sporting clubs or after-school programs, where there is responsible adult supervision.
  • Observe your child in social situations. If you see behavior that is not appropriate, find out if your child realizes how this behavior affects other children in the group. Talk about ways to interact more effectively.
  • When your child has a problem in a certain social setting or activity, come up with better ways of dealing with such situations in the future.

Remember, many children will have some problems getting along with others as they get older, no matter how tall they are. As a parent, you can provide the support and understanding needed to help your child work through these situations.