One of the things that I’ve realized as a parent is that while there’s a lot of focus on building kids’ academic skills and their ability to read and write, a child’s ability to control their emotions and interact socially with peers is just as important to succeeding in school. I’ve found that this can be a really tough and scary thing for children. While some kids very naturally make friends and love being around others, other kids get quite uncomfortable around those they don’t know or are legitimately scared of situations where there are large groups of kids and people.
As someone who is naturally introverted and very much appreciative of alone time I can really relate to these kids and as a parent have tried to figure out ways that I can help set up my own children to succeed in social interactions. My wife has done a great job of this with our kids by setting up playdates, going to free public spaces, and regularly attending church gatherings for moms that provide child care. We have also at various times signed our kids up for free building projects at our local home improvement store, affordable gymnastics classes, and other opportunities in the community.
I definitely can’t say that each of these individual interactions were successful. There were definitely a few of them that did not end well or led to tears and tantrums. However, after adding each of these individual efforts up we can definitely see a difference in our oldest child’s comfort level. He is frequently saying “hi” to people that pass by, politely answering questions, and even willingly sharing toys and spaces with kids he doesn’t know. All of these things were not in his natural skill set even a few months ago, but have been added slowly as he’s grown and been given more opportunity. It gives me great hope that as we get closer and closer to school age that the transition won’t be as difficult for him…now if I can just figure out how to prepare myself…
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