It’s difficult for parents of introverted children to watch their child struggle to initiate conversations, make friends, and socialize in large groups of other children. You can’t force your child to act in an extroverted manner, and you can’t make friends for him, but there are small ways in which you can help him to extend himself in social situations.
Do try to role play with your child. You can use her dolls or stuffed animals, pretending that they are her playmates, and encourage her to say hello to them, ask them if she can share a toy, or engage them in pretend play.
Do arrange for a play date. This will give your child the opportunity to interact one on one with another child. A child who is talkative and sociable, but who is also patient, might make a perfect friend for a play date. Encourage your child to practice the conversations you’ve role played, even if she only gets to “hello”.
Do encourage baby steps. If you can get your child to wave to other kids first, and then work her way up to a “hello” next, she may then be able to ask simple questions, such as asking for a toy. This will help her build toward having conversations in the future.
Don’t pressure your child. If your child signals to you that he is not ready to speak to other kids by crying, hiding his face, or withdrawing from the situation, tell him that he can try again later. Forcing him to interact will only heighten his anxiety.
Don’t be focused on numbers. Having a huge group of friends isn’t a necessity. Many children and adults have happy and fulfilling social lives which involve just a couple of few close friendships with two or three people. The quality of your child’s friendships is more important than the quantity.
Don’t crowd your child. Take a few steps back when your child enters a group of children at the playground. Allow him to explore a birthday party on his own. You need to give him the space he needs to navigate social situations on his own. This will better prepare him for making friends at preschool or daycare, when he is not with you during the day.
Do you have an introverted child? Have you been able to coax her into socializing a bit and making friends? Let us know what has worked for your child in the comments section!