In a culture where video games and texting are preferred over play dates and live discussions, it’s not surprising that more parents are bringing their children to therapy for help with social skills. For some children phone time instead of in-person time can contribute to shyness, while others may simply have a naturally reserved temperament. Other children may be anxious and as a result have a hard time interacting, and still more may be more used to interacting with adults than their peers. There are a myriad of reasons why a child may be shy, but the good news for all of them is that if you’re finding that your child is struggling with interactions with other children, there are many things you can do to help your child at home. Here are a few suggestions of activities to do at home to help your child conquer shyness:
Put away the technology. Having your children put away their phones, iPads, video games, and any other such devices for mealtimes and for conversation during the day is a great way to help your children become better conversationalists and more comfortable interacting face-to-face.
Role Play. In this activity, you can sit with your child and role-play together. One person pretends to be someone different (perhaps a relative, or a favorite movie character), and the other participants ask questions about the character to get to know him/her. This is an easy way to help your child learn how to ask questions when in social settings. Sometimes children who are shy are uncomfortable talking about themselves, so empowering your child to be able to ask about someone else could be an important first step in helping to decrease their fears when meeting new people.
Table Topics. This is a fun game that can be ordered off of Amazon (there are editions specifically for children). Different cards have different questions, and you go around and each answer the question one at a time. This can be helpful in terms of teaching your child what questions to ask, and in helping them to be comfortable with a broader range of conversational topics.
Watch t.v. with them. As you’re watching, you can point out things the characters in their favorite shows did or did not do well socially, and discuss how the situations that arise could have best been handled. Using t.v. as a way to model good techniques for social skills is an easy way to help your child begin to better understand various interactions.