One of my clients this week told me that social life is like a castle. The walls are just too high and too thick to climb and you cannot get in unless someone lets the drawbridge down.
Insurmountable Social World
As a result, so many kids feel this way. They do not know what to do – so at lunch they head for the library or to the bathroom to bide their time and hide out. Maybe you were one of these kids and you can relate to the feeling that the social world is just an insurmountable tower of terror. Kids and teenagers often share with me that they cannot figure out how to change things. They are unsure how to climb the tower walls or even cajole people to let the drawbridge down. So they avoid social interactions all together.
Avoidance is a sign.
Not a sign that the child does not care. Or a sign that he lacks motivation, is resistant, or is just uninterested in having friends, but a sign that he does not know how to break down the barriers so he can participate, or “join in”. Without a roadmap or help with his social plan, children and teenagers often shut down.
So I ask parents to reframe their thoughts about a child or teenager who avoids socialization. Hiding in one’s room playing video games is not always about a bad attitude. Sometimes children just do not know how to climb the walls of the castle and break in.
If you are waiting to see if things will change without help, let me share with you that they will not. The child alone does not have the skills yet to navigate this kind of change. They do not know how to enter the lunchroom and connect with their peers, and sit down and join a group.
Good news!! When children receive guidance and are provided with specific steps on how to navigate social situations to make friends, they build new skills and often become more interested in joining in.
Social Skills Deeper Dive
More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store
How to Coach Your Child – Kids need good role models. Skills like listening and communication are critical. This exclusive program for parents teaches how to coach your kids for life.
Adults with ADHD Social Skills Training: How to Get Along with Everyone – 2-Part Seminar with Caroline Maguire
Rusty Social Skills Bundle – Everything you need to help students return to the classroom for the development of critical social skills.
Coaching Conversations Video Course – How to use the lessons in Why Will No One Play with Me? in everyday life using real people and real scenarios
From “Hi” to a Full Conversation – How to adapt conversation starters to initiate small talk.
Joining a group Infographic – Make joining a group less intimidating – and more fun!
Building a Conversation Infographic – Learn how to engage in reciprocal give-and-take
Steps for Joining a Group Video – Step by step details to comfortably and successfully join a group
How to Read the Room as an Adult – Managing perceptions and engaging successfully
How to SEL – HOW TO help children build social skills