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Ask the Experts

How Do I Help My Child Relate to Others?

By Dr. Susan Goldman, Family Psychologist

Question:

My daughter is having problems relating to other children. She is an only child and relates better to adults than with other children. I think it will resolve itself as she gets older, but for now she is lonely and isolated. What can I do to help?

Answer:

First and foremost reassure your child that just as she learned to relate comfortably to adults she can learn to make friendships with children her own age. One initial approach is to choose some favorite activity that she might pursue with other children. There are so many terrific after-school classes in art, sports, cooking, etc. at local community centers. Perhaps the two of you can choose one class that she might attend. I especially recommend classes because your child will meet other children with a shared interest. This provides a natural basis for conversation and shared fun.

Another approach is to speak with her teacher about helping to facilitate dialogue with your child and her classmates. The teacher often has a good idea of which other children might be especially compatible with your own. I have found this to be a helpful approach when planning play dates for my own shy 6-year-old daughter.

Finally, you can investigate the availability of social skills programs offered by the school or community. Your child's teacher or school psychologist might be able to help locate such a program. These programs help teach children basic social skills, such as how to join a group and comfortably converse and play with other children.


Susan Goldman is a New York City and Westchester, NY-based child and family psychologist in private practice. She is also on staff at Social Bridges, a social skills program for children and adolescents located in Florida and New York.

 

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

03/22/2010:
"My 13 yr old has had 2 school changes in 3 years through family circumstances. He has found change difficult. We now wish to make a final move to Sarasota in Florida but have no real concept of where the good kid friendly neighbourhoods are,or which would be the best high school for a shy or underconfident boy. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, Ian. "
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