Ever wonder why your kiddo hasn’t had positive experiences attending a camp, belonging to a sports team, or participating in extracurricular activities? Or, if not – have you wondered why he has a particularly hard time with peers and socializing?
If you really think about it, school is a group activity after all.
Well, many of our kiddos have come from backgrounds in which there was poor adult supervision and connection.
Your child may have come from an orphanage or a foster home, for example. In his past, there was most likely a poor adult-child ratio or adult-child relationship and his peers were left unmoderated. This may have left opportunities for traumatic experiences with peers to occur. He may have developed his own maladaptive coping mechanisms to handle these situations. He may have learned poor ways of initiating friendships. This may include behaviors of bullying, aggression, lying, or withdrawing. Often our kiddos are functioning in “fight-or-flight mode” by default due to their history of being in “survival mode” and not being able to rely on anyone else. Therefore, when approached with a social situation now, he automatically resorts to what he has learned from his past – to inappropriately engage with others or withdraw.
Moreover, before your presence – your child did not experience a loving, healthy relationship with a parent. A healthy and loving parent models socialization and conversational skills with their child. This starts in the early years through play and learning lessons such as sharing, “please,” and “thank you.” Healthy parents guide their children in how to appropriately navigate social situations. Chances are your kiddo did not receive this guidance and may be developmentally behind in this (and many) area(s).
This presents a challenge when your child is thrown into activities that are unstructured or unmoderated. The best thing to do is be proactive and set him up for success. At what level is your child functioning socially? In what ways can you help him expand his social skills? Is your child’s team on board with truly understanding his behaviors? Try taking some steps back and scaling down your child’s social activities.
What have your experiences been? How have you handled challenges related to socialization?