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How Can I Encourage My Child to Socialize?

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
How Can I Encourage My Child To Socialize?

Q.

What encouragement should give to my child who is very anti-social? She is 7 years old and does not join in with school activities. She wants to be always alone.

I have already talked to her heart to heart on what is the problem. But her response would always be that she likes it better when she's not with other children. Sometimes though she plays with other kids but that's for only a couple of minutes and she's withdrawn into herself again. What should I do? I want her to have a healthy interaction with other children.

(A.N, 30 March 2009)

A.

Your daughter is still very young and has no idea what the phrase anti-social actually means. There could be a very good reason why she likes to be alone (perhaps she likes to be peaceful, perhaps she is shy and lacks confidence?) but if you think there may be a bigger issue it would be a good idea to talk to her teachers to see if there have been any incidents at school that have made her withdraw from friendship groups.

It's not clear from your question if your daughter is an only child or not, but if she is then she will be used to spending time alone and therefore might feel overwhelmed by the company of other children.

My own son (who is now nine and VERY sociable!) spent the first few years of his life as a bit of a loner and preferred to either be alone or with an adult for company. We discovered that he would steer clear of large groups of noisy children because he had a hearing deficiency and found it very difficult to differentiate between different people when they were all talking in a group. He became frustrated because he couldn't work out who was saying what and found it was easier to be alone. I am not suggesting that your daughter has a hearing problem, but it might be worth asking your doctor for some advice as you never know. Some children who are on the spectrum for autism also prefer to be alone and again I am NOT suggesting this is the case, but it's worth getting your daughter checked out.

It seems that you are more concerned about your daughter not joining in than she is, and this is understandable. We all want our children to have friends to play with and to feel included in group sessions both in and out of school. However, if she appears happy and settled at school and doesn't seem to be unduly bothered by playing alone then I wouldn't worry too much. Explore all of the options mentioned above and talk to her teachers at length because they will be able to offer a real insight into your daughter's behaviour during the school day, when you can't be with her.

It would also be useful to talk to your health visitor, and if you are really keen to introduce your daughter to some new friends just do it very casually. Don't force her into situations which will make her feel uncomfortable. Instead invite one of your friends and their child for a quick after school cup of tea and see how that goes. It could be that by doing this little and often your daughter will develop friendships and feel more comfortable in the company of other children. Good luck!

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