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Social Challenges for Young Children
September 30, 2020

Most children enjoy social events like parties, play dates and family gatherings, but not all like to socialize. They may feel anxious, may stand back, and watch others or would rather play quietly by themselves.

Keep in mind

  • Some kids are simply less social than others.
  • There are lots of reasons kids can struggle with social skills.
  • There are many ways to help improve social skills.

You may wonder if your child is not very social, it Is simply personality. Many children like their own company and do not need a lot of social interaction.

But some children do not prefer spending time alone; but have trouble with social skills. They may want to interact; and it often does not go well. They may struggle to make conversation or behave in a way that is objectionable to other kids.

Children who have trouble with social skills may act differently. Some have awkward interactions all the time. Some might miss social cues that come from body language. So, they keep on talking even though the other person is looking away, bored. Some may not follow social “rules” like waiting their turn to talk. So, they interrupt the other person mid-sentence.

When children have trouble with social skills, it may appear in different ways and at different ages. Sometimes, these challenges do not show up until grade school or even middle school, when socializing gets more complex.

social challenges

Depending on their age, a child might:

  • Talk too much
  • Misunderstand sarcasm
  • Not recognize when someone looks or sounds annoyed
  • Be a poor listener
  • Say inappropriate things
  • Not wait their turn to talk
  • Withdraw from conversation with other kids

Having these challenges does more than impact a child’s social life. It also makes connecting with teachers, family members, and others.

What Can Cause Trouble with Social Skills

There are things that can affect how children interact with others including:

  • Trouble with self-control
  • Communication difficulties
  • Language barriers
  • Mental health issues like anxiety and depression
  • Stressful situations at home

There are also learning and thinking differences that directly impact social skills. ADHD is an issue and children with ADHD can be impulsive. They may talk nonstop and say things without thinking.  And kids who are hyperactive have trouble with focus, might fidget, squirm, and act in ways that draw unwanted attention.

Nonverbal learning disabilities make it hard for children to understand communication that is unspoken, like body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Children with this disability have trouble with abstract concepts and evaluation social situations. They may also have trouble with self-control.

Autism causes the same types of difficulties as nonverbal learning disabilities and it can involve language challenges. They may also have specific interests that seem unusual to others.

What Can Help Children with Social Skills

If your child has trouble connecting with other children or adults, there are many ways you can help. A good place to start is by taking notes on what is occurring at home. You may start to pick up on patterns that help you figure out why your child is struggling.

You may also want to talk to someone about the behavior you are witnessing. Your child’s teacher and health care provider can be great sources of information and advice.

Even if you are not sure why your child is having trouble with social skills, there are ways you can help improve those skills at home:

  • Try role-playing social situations.
  • Use TV to teach social skills.
  • Get tips for teaching your child conversation skills.
  • Learn how to give praise that boosts self-esteem.
  • Discover a fun craft to help your child identify strengths.

Always remember struggling socially can damage a child’s self-esteem and cause them to feel isolated. Let them know that everyone struggles with something, and that their social skills can improve.

At T’s Learning Center, providing full-time child daycare in Jacksonville and surrounding areas, we witness the change in kids when parents (and teachers) help their children deal with and overcome problems and succeed in life at every opportunity.