If it’s not your kid- you probably know one. The kid who can’t seem to get the words out, or tries to high five and hits the kid instead, or gets so anxious that they leave the situation mid-activity to sit alone- The Socially Awkward Kid. Let us review a few ideas to help out the socially awkward kid.
Talk with them matter-of-factly. Being straightforward about the awkwardness can be comforting just knowing that someone notices what is going on and is there to help them. There is no meanness here- only being open, honest, and helpful.
Don’t critique your kid. Stop yourself from starting the laundry list of things they did wrong. This makes these talks very negative which will deteriorate the relationship. The relationship is key here in that they need to trust that you are doing what is best for them without judgement. Figure out what they want to work on and how they would like you to help them. Assist them in coming up with a standard protocol for various situations and then practice it. Good eye contact, pleases & thank yous, smiles and even standing in line should be highlighted in detail.
Set up positive social interactions on a regular basis with nice kids so they can build their confidence and reduce anxiety. They may still have some conflict or apprehension, but you are setting them up for success. Another way to set up a positive interaction is to get them in activities where there is a common goal such as various sports like soccer or baseball, art classes, yoga, or martial arts.
Bug Out Plan
Always have a plan to get out quickly. This goes for you and your kiddo. The idea is to have the security of knowing you can leave at any point. One of the rules of a ‘bug out plan’ is to make sure that if anyone wants to enable the plan there is no guilt, anger, or questioning- the goal changes to leaving in a calm but quick manner.
Recon & Regroup
Once you are in a calm private time, make sure to have a conversation about why the bug out plan was enabled (or not). Discuss the challenges, what supports would be helpful to add, emotions that were brought up, and modifications that can be made to create more success. Then the hard part comes- start the process over again.
Keep in Mind Parents!
-Stay calm no matter what happens. If they do something odd don’t add to it by bringing attention to the group and don’t overly correct them because this will indicate to the other kids that there is a problem.
-Don’t worry. Try not to stay up at night thinking about how to ‘fix’ the situation or focusing on the doom of it by thinking they will never be successful. Everyone goes through phases. The goal is to be the best they can be and they will find their niche in life.
-Find your own support that you can vent/talk too. These times can be stressful and tedious so it is nice to have someone to talk to and keep you focused on the important parts of life. Health & Happiness.
My Challenge to you: If your kid is the awkward kid- try to make a plan/protocol for a new social behavior that has been rough for them. If you don’t have a socially awkward kid, talk to your kids about how others may have a hard time asking to play, etc. See if you can come up a learning opportunity to help a socially awkward kiddo and help your kids learn to show empathy to others discomfort.
Happy coming out of your shell friends!
– Jessie the Therapist