Jennifer Hsieh Yang
5 Tips to boost your preschool-aged child’s social development: Tip #2
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
During COVID-19 times, preschool aged children have across the board struggled with limited social interaction opportunities and many have experienced social skill difficulties.
The high number of referrals for young children struggling with emotional and social skills, prompted the development of this blog series about how to help your child’s social development.
In the previous post (link to post), I talked about Tip #1, Getting to the social event several minutes early and why that was so important for kids with social difficulties. Today, I’ll be sharing Tip #2: Prep your child in advance
In addition to being a therapist, I’m the Mom to two young kids, ages 5 and 6.
My 5-year-old is a social butterfly and naturally feels out the vibe of the room and seamlessly integrates. My 6-year-old is a neurodiverse, having anxiety and ADHD. In a new social situation, he often struggles and says he wants to go home.
This past summer he surprised me by doing really well in various weeklong summer camps, where he didn’t know any of the campers or counselors. When I asked him why he thought he did so great he replied in a chipper voice, “Oh it was easy because I knew what to expect!”. It was then that I realized that my work I had done in preparing him to the new social experiences had really paid off.
This summer, a few days before each new camp, we made it a point to visit the location in advance when there were no people or very few people and let him play there for an hour or so. I also asked for the camp’s daily schedule and went over the schedule with him in advance. I found out the teachers’ names and when available, I went to the website and shared with him the name and a picture of what the teacher looked like. The simple act of preparing made a whole of difference for him. He thrived at the camps!
For new social situations, be it camp, a new school or a new extracurriculars, prep your children as much as possible. Find out what the schedule will be like and if possible, visit the location in advance. If visiting the location in advance is not possible, then see if you can find a few pictures of the location online, look at them together with your child, and talk about what the class/camp/school will be like. This is also a good time to talk about any feelings your child might have about the new situation and any concerns.
If after trying tips #1 and 2, you still find yourself struggling to help your young child to be successful in social interactions, it might be time to consider professional support. At Think Happy Live Healthy, we are offering a social skills group for children ages 3 to 5.
About the Author:
Jennifer Yang, Ed.S. NCSP is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist with 12 years of experience in the mental health field. She worked with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) as a clinician in a Comprehensive Services Site (CSS) for special education students with severe social and emotional challenges as well as a Behaviorist in public schools in New Jersey. She also brings to her work her personal experiences of being a Mom to a neurodiverse child with ADHD. Jennifer is currently working under the supervision of Christine Willing, M.Ed., Licensed School Psychologist, to obtain her licensure in private practice as she is transitioning from working in schools to private practice.