It’s important to understand that children who suffer from academic issues such as dyslexia and ADHD often experience setbacks in their social skills as well. The internal stress regarding these issues can lead to anxiety about social situations. The back-to-school season, usually anticipated by parents and their children, may not be so welcome under these circumstances. Fortunately, there are several ways to give your child the skills needed for making new friends and reduce some of the social awkwardness.
1. Teach Students Body Language and Social Cues
Your child may have difficulty understanding other children’s body language — or even misinterpret it entirely. Spend some time learning about facial expressions and body language and how children can engage more clearly when trying to communicate with other kids. If your child can learn more about making eye contact or smiling, he will seem more approachable.
2. Explore Social Media as a Tool to Make Connections
Nowadays, most kids have Facebook or send text messages to each other. But kids with social disorders may shy away from this type of communication with their peers, simply because they don’t know how these made-up acronyms work. Teach them the basics: IDK for “I don’t know,” LOL for “laugh out loud,” JK for “just kidding,” BFF for "best friends forever," etc. Keep this type of interaction to a minimum as too much screen time can have detrimental effects on a child's development. In addition, it's important that children who struggle socially don't replace the bonding of a true friendship with arms-reach, online encounters.
3. Teach Conversation Starters to Students who Struggle to Make Friends
One of the most vital skills for making friends is verbal communication. If your child sticks to "yes" or "no" answers to most questions and has a hard time striking up a conversation, teach her how to ask and respond to appropriate questions: What sports do you like? What are your hobbies? What is your favorite food? Don’t worry about it sounding scripted in the beginning; practice together, and make it fun — no pressure.
4. Find Out What Other Kids Are Talking About These Days
It may have been decades since you last knew the latest pop culture references, but now’s the time to educate yourself. By learning a few “in” things with your child, such as popular TV shows and songs, you can ensure he won’t feel like an alien when kids in school start talking about the latest crazes.
5. Learn About Bouncing Back After Social Rejection
Your child may meet disappointment, bullying and criticism. The best thing you can do is teach her to expect it and how to get up and try again. Embracing failure is a grown-up concept that few adults even know how to manage, but learning how to deal with disappointment and turn it into something positive will set your child up for success.