Holiday Party Tips to Ease Social Anxiety and Promote Social Skills for Children with Asperger's, ADHD or other Neurobehavioral Disorder
Children with social struggles might be tempted to avoid holiday parties that bring them into contact with lots of people. Many children who struggle socially find it especially difficult to interact with strangers.
Before sending your children to parties this holiday season, make sure they know some of the following tips. This holiday guide could help anxious or shy children relax and enjoy the company of others.
Practice Social Skills in a Non-Threatening Environment
Children can often learn social skills by playing games. Set some time aside at home so you and your children can play games that help them learn:
- How to control their emotions
- To interpret facial expressions to understand how others feel
- Negotiation and compromise
Some children need to practice these skills in a non-threatening environment that helps them concentrate without losing control of their emotions. Think of each session as an exercise that strengthens your child's social skills.
Take a Break When Overwhelmed
Children with sensory or self-control issues may feel overwhelmed at festive events that involve a lot of activities. Remind your child that it's okay to feel a little overwhelmed. Encourage them to breathe through the discomfort when possible.
When children start to feel truly overwhelmed, though, they may need to take a break from the action. Stepping outside to enjoy the cool air or excusing oneself for a trip to the bathroom are respectful ways to get some distance.
Once the child feels more comfortable, he or she can return to the party.
Avoid Foods With Sugar or Caffeine
Certain foods and beverages can undermine a child's holiday party social skills. Consuming sugar and caffeine, for instance, can increase social anxiety. They can also exacerbate behavioral issues caused by ADHD and other conditions.
If your child has other food sensitivities, advise him or her to avoid those foods.
Find a Person Who Makes Them Feel Comfortable
Do a little social reconnaissance with your child before attending a party. Find out who plans to attend and what kinds of activities the host plans to include during the evening.
Learning more about the people and events at the party can also help your child plan conversations that will appeal to other people. This could create a more relaxed atmosphere that makes your child feel included and less anxious.
These social tips for kids aren't a magic bullet that will suddenly make everything easy. With practice, though, many children learn how to use social skills appropriately. Eventually, this can help them enjoy all kinds of social experiences, including holiday parties.
If your child struggles with social issues related to Asperger syndrome or ADHD, or has already been diagnosed with a similar disorder, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.