by John E. Peats M.S., CCC-SLP
More and more children are having significant difficulties fitting in at school. Children have difficulty for a variety of reasons – ranging from things they can do something about (i.e. social skills) to things beyond their control (i.e. family’s socioeconomic status). When a child perceives he is not liked, is ridiculed or feel he does not belong he or she is unlikely to know how to cope or correct the situation. Children having difficulty at school may not willingly share their troubles with their parents – as they may feel “they’re being a baby” or that what was said about them is true. It is critical that parents and caregivers observe, interact and find ways to help their kids fit into the increasingly challenging school environment. Here are 5 things parents or caregivers can do to help their kids fit in.
1. Esteem building – Make a list of your child’s strengths and find ways to encourage and have him or her focus on those strengths daily. For example if your child likes a soccer, buy him or her kid focused magazines that highlight the lives of soccer and other sport stars. Allow him to practice his kicks outside for 30 minutes after school. Tell him or her how great they’re doing.
2. Social Skills – Model skills that build relationships – like not talking about self excessively, turn-taking in a conversation, maintaining good eye contact, limiting touching, being sensitive to other people’s feelings by reading body language.
3. Communication – Set a regular scheduled time every day where you visit with the child and discuss anything they feel like talking about. Parent can begin by asking – “How was your day? ” Is there anything you need?” Try not to do this within 2 hours of a child being upset.- for whatever reason, as this might prove counterproductive. Be persistent and do not feel put off, if at first the child is resistant. Be gentle yet persistent.
4. Community – Try to create an extended social network. Join a church. Join the local YMCA or YWCA. Befriend a family with kids that are the same age as your child. Creating an extended social network provide a controlled and positive environment in which your child can build beneficial, lasting relationships. These relationships can help your child practice and develop social skills. It can also act as a buffer in helping your child’s feel less isolated when faced with difficulty making new friends.
5. Play – Find the time daily to laugh with your child – during a sitcom or playing a board game, or having a pizza party. Just do something fun.