I have seen the signs of children socially isolating themselves several times in my coaching sessions. When a child is afraid of being rejected socially they don’t put themselves out there and talk to other children at school. Past experience has dictated to them that this is the best option given that they were bullied or socially rejected previously.
There is a huge difference between being socially excluded and socially isolating yourself, but the two can be connected sometimes. Children who are socially excluded tend to be those who are socially awkward and don’t have the best interpersonal skills. They may have a strong personality that rubs people up the wrong way, are seen as annoying or they don’t understand how friendships work.
A child that is socially isolating themselves is stopping themselves from making friends or being friendly and without friends school can be a very lonely place. Your child will miss out on the skills gained and used within friendship groups.
There are many ways parents and teachers can try to help a socially isolated child. Here are some ideas to change behaviour and help improve their social lives.
10 Ways to Help a Socially Isolated Child
- Build up their self-esteem. Help them to feel more confident in themselves around their peers.
- Building up their confidence by getting them involved in an after school activity that allows them to be themselves and not worry about being rejected.
- Helping them leave past feelings and experiences behind and not allowing them to dictate their future.
- Challenging their negative thoughts about themselves.
- Getting them to see the advantages of having friends. They may not have had good friends before so may not see the point. Teach them that good friendships are valuable.
- Help them to see they can be a good friend. Show children that they have many positive traits like being a good listener, kind etc.
- Identifying children who they think could be good friends. Who would your like to be friends with, who seems friendly and worth getting to know? Is there anyone else who seems socially isolated who they could introduce themselves to?
- Teach children how to make friends again – how to act and what to say. They may not have the life skills needed to make small talk or feel brave enough to talk to people. Help them to develop the skills they need to make friends.
- Speaking to their teacher and suggesting that they have a buddy in class. Asking their teacher to put them with children they consider will be kind and will include them in a group activity. Perhaps those children have something in common with them – it always helps.
School life is difficult for any child who sits alone at break times and at lunch. They are the only ones really who can break this habit and start to socialise, so we need to give them the social and personal tools to be able to do so. With both parental help and teachers help your child will be able to feel stronger and to join in more. They need to see that they and their thoughts, are the only ones holding themselves back.