This is a topic I have a lot of experience with on both sides of the coin. My son struggled socially for the first part of his short, 9-year childhood. Since then he has been a social butterfly. The contrast has been striking.
There was a time when my son’s behavior caused extreme stress for both my wife and me. Here’s a SHORT list of things he would do:
- Interrupted every conversation we had
- Did not want to go outside or to the playground
- Wanted to play by himself almost strictly
- Would throw tantrums if he didn’t get his way
- Would get bullied and picked on at school
- Was evaluated in the bottom 1% of overall intellect
These were all very distressing to us, but I imagine that was just as distressing to him.
Because of these behaviors, our son’s universe became smaller and smaller. Either we were avoiding situations or he was avoiding situations. As you can imagine, that becomes a snowball effect.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, we spent a lot of money educating ourselves and getting support from therapists. Play therapy was one of the primary tools that helped turn our son’s life around, and quite frankly, our lives too.
Today is another story. The flipside of having a child with strong social skills. Here’s a short list of what life is like now:
- My son constantly gets praised for having great manners
- He loves going to school and is considered very popular by his peers
- At parent/teacher conferences, we have smiles from ear-to-ear
- He stands up for kids when they are getting picked on
- He’s in 4th grade doing 6th-grade math
- He’s always the leader at the playground
As a parent, this is the best feeling in the world. I’m proud of my son. He’s a role model for other children.
Because of this, he’s a sought-after playmate. And he loves his friends. It’s a conduit for my wife and me to extend our own relationships with other parents. When you have a child that doesn’t play well with others you miss out on a lot of opportunities for both you and your child.
The point I’m trying to make is that we all start somewhere. Kids aren’t born knowing how to behave and how to be social. It’s a learned skill just like math. The problem is that it’s taught in an ad-hoc way and often without the knowledge of how best to do it. I know my parents weren’t perfect (nobody is) but we should strive to be better. For our kids.
Lastly, consistent playdates are a great way to teach social skills to your children. I hope that by creating Winston we have made it easier for you to arrange, track, and get chaperones for your playdates. And if you follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/winstondigital/) we’re providing daily games that are designed to teach certain skills.
Until next week, happy playing!