Social support and social interaction are one of the most important factors in predicting the physical health and well-being of everyone, ranging from childhood through older adults. Although social interaction is complex, it is vital to human health, both mentally and physically.
Create opportunities for your child to play often. The play groups must involve peers first and gradually move on to children of all ages. This play time must be free from competition and comparison of any kind from adults. For example, the play group must not be a class where children meet to learn music and appear for examinations in the end. Allow your child to be in an environment free from constant competition, discrimination and comparision. To develop good social skills children need to feel successful, confident and encouraged often.
Very often as parents we end up being very controlling or very indulging in an attempt to help our child learn faster or skip lessons along the way. Be the kite flier who balances with the right amount of control and giving. Allow children to make mistakes and take calculated risks. As children make friends be supportive even if the relationships are short lived. Every child deserves an opportunity to explore experiment, learn and change. As a parent be available and ensure that you are that constant friend who does not change or let go. Be supportive and help your child (in the teen years) reflect on relationships that fail and learn from mistakes. Your support and insight will help provided it is not given as advice.
Allow children to make choices when they are in family functions, groups, meets, weddings, etc…. Do not force your child to interact or perform for others if they are not comfortable. The experiences they get in such groups early in life sets the base for all future relationships. When your child chooses to perform, be supportive and encouraging even if there are mistakes. Encourage in public, support and correct with constructive feedback when alone.
Share experiences about your own relationships with friends, family and at work from the past and the present. This will help your child realise that relationships need work but that they are worth it if nurtured with the right person.
Children learn more from observing our patterns that through advice, lectures or rules. The changes you make will reflect in your child behaviour. Truly start becoming the adult you wish your child would become in the future and they will get there faster, better and easier than you expect.
As a parent if you provide the love, support, encouragement and warmth that your child needs, they will be able to develop good social skills and healthy relationships outside the home. Children with poorly met emotional or Physical needs will end up attracting the wrong kinds of people and relationships. How healthy your relationship with your child is will reflect in what they seek from or develop with others.
Human relationships are complex, no doubt, but with well developed social skills, they can be meaningful and fulfilling bonds developed over an entire lifetime. Simple changes in attitude and lifestyle go a long way in making a huge difference in the quality of human interaction we can facilitate in our children. The rules are simple play more, mingle more, choose more and above all BE more. Start small, Start Now.