Having an active social life can help your child’s self-esteem and her confidence level. Whether she is active spending time playing with her friends, playing sports or participating in other extracurricular activities, the socialization involved is great for her development. As a parent, your job is to encourage her to create a social life, and to be there for her when it comes to taking her to practice, scheduling play dates and teaching her the proper way to socialize with kids her own age.
Encourage your child to socialize in a way that is appropriate to his age, advises PBS. For example, if your child is three, he probably will play much better with one or two other children than he will with a group of children. Additionally, not all kids will like your kid, and your kid will not like all kids. This means that you must have reasonable expectations of his ability to socialize when it comes to encouraging him to have a social life.
Sign your child up for a constructive experience, such as volunteering, advises Kids Health. If your child loves to read, ask her if she’d like to volunteer at the local library returning books to shelves or keeping the children’s area clean. This will allow her not only to give back to your local community and add volunteer experience to her character resume, but to meet other children who love to read as well. There is no end to the number of friends she can make when she volunteers doing something she loves.
Provide your child with the ability to have time to play with people his own age, such as signing him up for sports, advises Jacquelyn Mize, Ph.D. and associate professor of the Department of Family and Child Development at Auburn University, and Ellen Abell, Ph.D., family and child development specialist at Auburn University. Don’t just sign him up randomly for sports he doesn’t like in an attempt to increase his social life; sign him up for sports that interest him. Ask him if there’s one he’d like to play and go from there. He’ll make friends with kids his own age who enjoy the same activities. You will get to know their parents, which means you’ll be more comfortable letting him socialize with those kids. It’s a win/win situation all the way around.
Let your child handle her own friendships, advises PBS. You might have all the advice and experience in the world when it comes to handling childhood friendships – experience does make you more knowledgeable – but that doesn’t mean you need to force it on your child. She is capable of handling her own friendships and how they work. Letting her do this helps her learn to manage her friendships, handle conflict and enjoy spending time with others.
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images