Rita is an education specialist who was homeschooled until she started college at age 16. She believes in family time and education.
Kids Need Examples to Socialize Well
In various sociological studies, experts observe children sitting quietly watching an interactive group. Some of them are shown videos of children becoming interactive with the group and immediately fitting in.
It was found on multiple occasions that the children who were shown the example videos were able to simply mimic their inclusion into the group. The results in real life were the same as those in the video. Those who stepped forward to include themselves succeeded immediately.
However, those who simply kept watching the real-life group but who did not have examples set for them almost never joined in, even after watching for a long period of time.
1. Teach Your Kids the Basics of Communication
- "Can I play?"
- "What are we doing together?"
- (After picking out a toy) "Would you like to play this with me?"
Simple questions like these almost always initiate an immediate response from other children—a positive, engaging response. Even quiet children feel the primal social protocol to respond and start playing with the children in question.
Practice saying these sentences back and forth with your children. Have them practice those sentences with each other and with you. This gives "parental permission" to speak up and say it their own way when they encounter a children's social group.
2. Encourage Your Kids to Speak Up During Mealtimes
Meals are always meant to be communal and to involve people sharing parts of themselves with the group, both in the form of food and in the form of good conversation.
As long as the language and topics are kept clean, allow your kids to have free reign of speech during their meals. Exchange ideas and conversation freely in front of one another, including the adults of the family talking about their day in some detail.
Curb any snide or insulting remarks that siblings invariably make to each other and, instead, give them examples of ways they can forward the conversation without it going negative.
3. Publish and Publicly Display Your Kids' Opinions
Give your children the leveraging ability of power.
When they make an astute or particularly intelligent comment or observation, compliment them on how smart they are. Then, write it down so that you can use it for bragging rights among other people and so that you can publish it on social media.
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When kids know that their opinions, ideas, and thoughts carry weight in the adult community, they begin to really think about what they are saying and how they want to present themselves to the world. Instead of being a kid, you have temporarily given them the strength and clout of an adult.
Expose Your Kids to a Very Wide Variety of Activities
4. Show Your Children How to Speak Up for Themselves
Throughout your day, actively engage your kid in various ways in which they can present themselves both gently enough to fit into society and powerfully enough to give their honest opinions and thoughts on a situation.
Have a practice session with your kids on what to say and how to approach people who have differing points of view from their own, people who are outright insulting, and people who have lazy, listless points of view.
While you may have strong thoughts, yourself, on any of these topics, make sure that your kid is taught WHY they should still keep their speech polite and socially acceptable.
5. Make Your Kid the Leader for a Day
On a monthly basis, each of your children should be given total and complete charge of the household for a whole day. They will learn leadership skills, be able to flex their ideas and internal strength muscles, and this will build confidence in them for life's little challenges.
By doing this on a monthly basis, family time still remains almost entirely under your control, but they still get to flex their internal power muscles 12 times a year. After they have gotten used to this tradition, they will begin coming up with interesting and creative ways to lead the family for the day.
Invite Neighborhood Kids Over to Your House All the Time
6. Talk to Your Kids Like They are Adults
Children are often smarter than their current experience with vocalization and emotional expression allow. This means that they are often more intelligent than their ability to communicate this intelligence.
Many adults mistake their communication ability with their actual intelligence and talk down to their kids on a level far lower than the kid actually uses to think.
Counteract this approach by always talking to your kids as if they are adults. Treat them with the same level of respect and deference (particularly once they have reached age 11 and 12) as you would treat a colleague.
You can simplify your language a little, but don't do it by much. Make them feel respected as adults and they will begin acting more like adults.
In the final scheme of things, your kids mimic the way you behave. If you are heavily socialized and always treat people with courtesy and respect, this behavior will resonate more than words will. Keep your behavior measured, calm, clean, and powerful. Your children will always follow suit.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.