Socializing and activities outside of school are components needed to help develop your child’s social and emotional skills. Establishing relationships with kids at school and outside of school while participating in extracurricular activities help to nurture your “whole child.” Here are some tips for helping children socialize at school while allowing them to discover their strengths and interests.
- Encourage new friendships. Even in elementary school, cliques and bullying are a problem. Combat this by encouraging your child to make new friends in their class by creating opportunities for them. For example, you can have your child invite a friend to go to the park or a movie. This gives kids a shared experience to have a conversation about at school.
- Having interests outside of school can be a socializing lifesaver. By making friend groups outside of school, your child has options and does not have to rely completely on the classroom dynamics. Extracurricular activities like drama tend to bring like-minded individuals together that support each other’s artistic flairs. This applies to all groups. A STEM group will provide the same opportunities to meet a new group of people with similar interests.
- Extracurricular activities are important, but don’t overdo it. Of course, we want our children to be active and have many interests. Unfortunately, many kids are overwhelmed by the number of activities they are participating in at a given time. Allow your child to choose their activities by presenting them with several options but limit the number to a reasonably manageable schedule. Too many after-school functions can be stressful for children and parents and create resentment.
- Work with your child and their needs. If your child doesn’t like to get up early Saturday mornings for baseball practice and gives you a battle, you should consider switching to a sport or practice that fits their natural flow. Some children can’t tolerate outside heat and do better in a gymnasium where the temperature is controlled. Consider what works best for your child.
- Relaxation and down time are essential. The constant hustle we have become accustomed to is not sustainable for adults or children. Remember that it is important to slow down every now and then. Sometimes we just need to be quiet with our thoughts or do something “unproductive.” It’s healthy to let your child watch a favorite show, play a game, or simply be idle for a while. Setting aside a little time in the schedule to relax is important for maintaining physical and mental health.
Arranging a balanced schedule of academics, personal responsibilities, socialization, and leisure activities has its rewards. Allowing your child to participate in these decisions with proper guidance and support will encourage independence and accountability while taking some of the stress off you.
For parents with much younger children, here are some great tips for transitioning into a new year.
Lori Lite is the founder of Stress Free Kids and has authored 12 books. Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Children Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress, and Reduce Anxiety has been named a Best Stress Management Book of All Time. Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm has been awarded the Mom’s Choice Award. Lori’s content is featured in hundreds of media outlets, including CBS News, CNN Living, WebMD, The New York Times, Family Circle, and Parenting Magazine.