Parent Conversation Guides

Navigating Social Challenges

Navigating Social Challenges

Kids are aware of the importance of being able to successfully navigate through their social worlds. They instinctively know that they are destined to find their own way some day – and correctly fear being ostracized or isolated. They need to belong; they need to know how to belong. The purpose of these conversations is to help them anticipate and practice basic social situations in advance, increasing the likelihood that they will thrive.

  • In anticipation of an upcoming event, ‘Let’s walk through what will happen at this (wedding/ graduation/ funeral/ etc.). That way it will be easier for us to relax and participate.’
  • First, have a quick discussion about what everyone will be wearing – as a way to show respect.
  • Then imagine each step from the time you enter the event. ‘When we first get there, we might have to introduce ourselves before going over to ….’ Practice the greeting  – you as greeter. ‘Does that sound okay?’ ‘Your turn.’
  • Continue to think about whom you will meet inside, group activities, etc., always helping your child see their way through.
  • ‘What if …” imagine a series of possibilities with your child. What if some cousins want you to run through the halls? What if someone spills their punch? What if you can’t find me? In each scenario, model some basic responses and ask if they have other ideas.
  • Get in the preparation habit. If you know your child is having trouble with some classmates, do a walk through. Do a role play.
  • If your child tends to shy away from joining in, help them imagine possibilities and consequences. ‘What if you just walked up and said you would like to join them, what might they say?’ Act it out. You act out their role and they act out the classmates role – then flip roles. Make sure they can find a way to feeling safe.
  • Occasionally go through the same process related to one of your upcoming challenges. Show your interest in making the situation as successful as it can be for both you and your friend. Practice a response and ask your child what they think?
  • The bottom line is modeling some natural anxiety, care, respect and increased comfort when you have thought it through or acted it out.