My child won’t join anything and refuses to try to play with new kids- she is so shy and says it is too hard. But in life we have to approach other people.
If your child is shy then these joining and playing with others are hard for her. The big question is, what makes this hard? What makes her avoid trying new things and joining in. Ask the questions, because sometimes it is about the child not knowing what to do or how to join in. So this is where you come in, you will make a pact with your child and agree to try something out of your comfort zone and to work on something hard for you and she will work on this. She can pick any activity and she just has to show up. A good conversation to have is to use this comfort zone tool.
Comfort Zone: Cozy, Creative, Courageous
We all know how it feels to tackle something outside our comfort zone. Try this concept with a child is struggling to keep an open mind, has trouble with change, claims there is no problem, or just shows less buy-in than you wish.
Try the Comfort Zone, a low-stress way to engage
- Explain what a “comfort zone” is and what it means to when something is “outside your comfort zone.” Use examples from your own daily life—things you do or have done that easily in your comfort zone, toward the edge of your comfort zone and clearly outside it. For example, I was nervous to learn to ski but I tried it, and it felt uncomfortable at first. You can prompt your child by asking questions about this idea of being uncomfortable and stretching to get beyond it. “Remember when you went to a new soccer team and felt like you wanted to stay with the old one?” Explain that in order to change and grow, we all must be willing to lean into discomfort and engage in the process.
- On a piece of paper, have your child draw a large circle to represent his comfort zone. Leave a margin around the circle—that’s going to be the space for things outside his comfort zone.
- Ask him to jot inside it things he does that are inside his comfort zone. These might include joining in with younger kids, staying out of the lunchroom, sitting only with one safe friend, things he loves like Legos, going to grandparent’s house, the after school program he prefers, eating favorite foods, playing with the same people or in the same place.
- Then ask him to jot outside the circle some things that are outside his comfort zone. Let your child tell you what those are.
- If your child hasn’t already named specific social expectations or situations, then turn to a few of those your child has been working on and ask, “Would _____ be inside your comfort zone or outside your comfort zone?
Social Skills Deeper Dive
More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store
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