Navigating common social situations can be terrifying for kids (and adults alike). And while the new school year may seem months away, there's nothing more nerve-wracking than the idea of starting a new summer camp or school for some kids.
"Summer is a great time to learn, practice, and perfect social communications skills, so when you do head back to school or enter that new camp, you're more confident and prepared for whatever scenarios you have to face," says Carolyn Davidson, Clinical Manager and Speech-Language Pathologist with Speech Therapy Centres of Canada.
The pressure to make new friends can be overwhelming in any situation.
How do you approach a group of kids who already
know each other? And, how do you introduce yourself for the first time?
I asked Ashleigh Wishen, Speech-Language Pathologist at the Speech Therapy Centres of Canada, a few questions that could help prepare kids for future situations of making new friends when they start a new school and tips that can benefit kids even at camp this summer.
"The best tool a tween can be armed with when trying to make new friends is a list of "safe questions" and an understanding of how to use them. These are common questions like: 'how was your summer?' And 'what type of music do you like?' that won't elicit an emotional response and will help kick-start a conversation," says Wishen.
What are some things parents shouldn't say to their kids?
Don't put them on the spot and ask them questions they know they can't answer. For example, if you know your child has difficulty describing or explaining, do not put pressure on them to provide more detail. Instead, support them and try to generate the information for or with them.
Also, don't say "It's easy" or "this is simple".
What should parents say to encourage them?
Give examples of recent interactions where your child showed positive social communications skills e.g. "I was really impressed with how you asked Jessica to sit with you on the bus" or "That took a lot of guts to ask Jim to..."
Validate their feelings of fear or worry and then add a positive comment like "it's scary going to a new camp but you will do a great job."
Some people may say "Why not let them figure it out for themselves?"
Are we coddling too much?
Children develop differently, some learn by example and by passive observation, however some children need explicit teaching. All children are unique, and therefore there is not one cookie cutter rule. If your child is struggling in social situations they may need some guidance. Having this open communication allows your child to feel safe and comfortable coming to you for help or advice.
How does speech therapy help?
Social communications challenges can be quite complex and it is important to not solve the problem with a simple "band-aid" solution. A Speech-Language Pathologist is able to identify how and why the breakdown occurs and is able to provide your child with concrete strategies to support them both academically and socially. For example, your child may have trouble with knowing how to start a conversation, reading subtle nonverbal cues and "reading between the lines," generating ideas on the spot, or social competence and thus there needs to be an assessment to identify the underlying challenge.
How do you start/have this conversation with your child to help them?
Often times your child may not be aware as to "why" the problems are occurring and this can be quite frustrating for them. If you notice your child is not developing or maintaining friendships, is getting bullied or feeling insecure about their social skills, you can ask them if they want help. Speech-Language Pathologists offer wide range of service to help target you and your child's goals; individual therapy and social communications groups with peers who are having similar difficulties and who they can practice with in a "real-life" functional setting.
The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada offers great sessions for kids as well as FREE parent workshops. The sessions can offer guidance to help determine if your child can benefit with speech therapy and help with identifying red flags, milestones, to learning how to use movies and video games to help your child tell and write stories. Also offered are useful tips and strategies that can help those with ADD and ADHD.
If you would like more information visit www.speechtherapycentres.com
This interview was conducted and post was written by me. I often write about products or services that may be of interest to our readership. I was not compensated for this write up nor is this a sponsored post.