Each child develops their social skills at a certain rate, so it is advisable not to pressure them to be a role models when it comes to interacting.
While it is true that people are social animals, not all of us are to the same extent or with the same ease. In the case of children, it must be added that they are in the process of developing their social skills. “It is paradoxical that some people do not like to be sociable because we are gregarious from the moment we are born. We are at the top of the food chain because we have learned to collaborate and generate great civilizations, due to our great capacity for sociability. But, children have specific rhythms for their psychosocial development and adults tend to force them to be more sociable than their due to their vital stage ”, explains Abel Domínguez, child, and adolescent psychologist.
Adults, sometimes, forget that children are in the process of development and learning and what can be very simple and natural for us, such as greeting and talking with people we do not know, can be difficult for them. “It is convenient to respect the rhythms of each child when developing their social skills. We should not force them to accelerate their sociability process because it can generate a rebound effect that causes them to isolate themselves or to rebel against the fact of relating. Dissociability can be adaptive because when a stranger is talking to a child on the street, they will not be so easily trusted. The little ones, sometimes, react in a more coherent way to how adults want them ”, clarifies the psychologist.
Parents influence the pace and way their children socialize. So that “if children associate the fact of being with certain friends or other people with the fact that their parents scold or punish them, it may mean that they avoid relationships, when in other circumstances, they would. There are more introverted children and others more extroverted, but it does not mean that they will not have friends or are already marginalized for life. These fears correspond more to adults than to themselves ”, comments psychologist Abel Domínguez.
Motivating children to socialize does not imply pressure, force, or persistence. Making children see that social relationships are satisfactory because they meet interesting people and live new experiences is a way for them to maintain a balance concerning having a reasonable openness when interacting with other people.
Sociability is learned, not born with it
We are a gregarious species, but we are not born with our social tools adjusted and developed one hundred percent, but “you have to learn and practice them. Let’s not insist that children know how to relate and behave as if social skills were standard. As adults, our responsibility is to provide them with the means to learn to socialize, such as environments, situations, and circumstances that facilitate interaction with other children of different ages, as well as with adults, but especially with children of the same age and similar abilities. with whom he learns to recognize himself and socializes more ”, explains Cristina de la Rosa Tineo, psychologist, psychotherapist, and member of the Nudos center.
It’s one thing to be sociable and another to be polite. “It is important that children are polite and greet when arriving or leaving a place, but do they necessarily have to be accompanied by a kiss or a hug? They can shake hands, say hello and goodbye. Let us reflect on the expectations we place on the little ones and the image we want them to give, ”adds the psychologist Cristina de la Rosa Tineo.
When we understand that it is not the same to force than to teach, the educational approach changes, and the pressure is put on hold to give way to the satisfaction of accompanying the child in their growth processes, such as the development of their social skills.
Why You Shouldn’t Force Your Child To Share
There is no morning or afternoon in which in a playground we do not find an adult encouraging a child to share their toys. They do it in a hurry, perhaps overwhelmed, because they don’t know how to act or what to say, aware that the drama will come sooner or later. And beware. Because surely someone has felt in the sandbox, between shovels, rakes, and buckets, like another spectator of the Roman Colosseum. What many of us do not know is that not all children are prepared at the same time to share. We are also not aware that, sometimes, it is our own intervention that ends up increasing a conflict that perhaps would not have reached such a conflict. Or who knows. Perhaps what actually happens is that our childhood experience in the park is so far away that we have transformed those places into a scale model of our adult world.