How to Encourage Your Only Child to Interact With Kids Their Age

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Only children are independent and often quite happy to play by themselves. This isn’t a problem for the most part and this kind of behavior can set them up nicely for adult life when they will need to fend for themselves. But unfortunately, some shy children have a much harder time going out and making friends when they don’t have a sibling to back them up. 

The good news is that there are lots of ways you can help your child to put themselves out there a little more without completely traumatizing them. This isn’t about chucking them in at the deep end of the social pool, but rather giving them a chance to explore new environments and meet new people in their own time. 

Whether your child is confident but just lacking a space to communicate with peers or they are too shy to even approach another child on their own, here are 3 ideas to help them along. 

Encourage More Group Activities

One of the best ways to learn how to socialize is through playing games. For kids, games and play are safe ways to experiment with social interaction and to learn more about each other. Sports are a great choice as they often foster team spirit as well as healthy competitiveness and communication skills. 

Once you have found a sport your child enjoys, they will start to bloom socially as they get to know others through that sport. Rather than just standing around and hoping that conversation happens, sport gives your child an immediate topic and something in common with the other children. 

As an extension to this idea, a summer camp could be ideal for a child who is growing more and more in confidence and needs a bit more space to grow up. Camp Sonshine is a great example of a summer camp because kids can just go during the daytime if they aren’t ready to sleep away from home. 

Talk it Through

Talking to kids before a new social situation is often a good idea if your child has ASD or similar, or social anxiety and shyness. As adults, we intuitively know what is expected of us in certain situations but for kids, the landscape is a bit trickier. For some children lacking a little experience can make it even harder to interact with others so preparing them for what they might like to say and do will boost their confidence. 

So, if your child is going to a birthday party, you should involve them in buying and wrapping a gift, talk about the birthday rituals like saying ‘happy birthday’ and the birthday boy or girl blowing out the candles. While you cannot possibly prepare them for every single eventuality, just having a basic template will work wonders. 

Be Patient

Some children take a little longer to mature than others and it is no different when it comes to socializing. For many young children, putting themselves out there is a bit more daunting than for others put pushing them into situations they find negative just won’t help as they will confirm that socializing just isn’t for them and make matters worse. 

It’s hard to be patient as a parent but the vast majority of children will make friends by themselves with your support. Talking the situation through is a real help but arranging one to one play dates with a friend could also help build your child’s confidence as they only have one peer to deal with at a time. 

The best thing you can do as a parent is keep talking to your child and encourage a strong bond between the two of you first. Make sure that your child is able to speak to you about their anxieties in an open way and listen to what they are saying. Understanding what they are going through is key to creating a steady plan that will help them catch up with their more confident peers. Active listening can feel a bit tortuous at times but making the effort to give your child your full attention will pay off significantly in the long run. 

Encouraging your child to get out there and talk to peers is really important for their development and will set them up well for the future. Whether your child is confident enough to go to camp for the summer and have an amazing time on their own or they require a bit more guidance with simple social situations, every child can succeed. 

All children learn and develop in their own time; your job is to support and encourage. 

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  1. This is such a great post, and very helpful! I don’t have kids but I will share this with family and friends, this is something that would help them.

  2. These are great tips. I really love this post!

  3. These are great tips! Thank you! My husband and I are pretty quiet and reserved and my son is an only child. I think this post will really help!

  4. These are good tips! I think the most important thing, like you mentioned, is to be patient.


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