Calgary Child Psychologist and Social Development
Social Skills and Peer Relationships
As children grow, it is critical that they have the ability to develop tools and strategies to sustain healthy relationships with peers and family. This doesn't come naturally to all children, and some may benefit from additional skill building in the social arena. Studies indicate that children who are able to develop healthy peer relationships during childhood tend to have more favorable outcomes. This may be due to the fact that negative interactions with peers can encourage the development of low confidence, poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. The benefits of learning adequate social skills can begin as early as toddlerhood.
My child is having difficulties being social at school…What do I do?
Soft skills such as empathy, cooperation and problem-solving supports the development of peer relationships in children and teens. Conversely, difficulties with the development of these skills can affect the overall mental well-being of children and adolescents. Bullying, teasing, and exclusion are common social issues which may put children at a higher risk for anxiety, depression, low-self esteem, and other mental health challenges. Our Child Psychologists at Creative Sky Psychology assist children and teenagers in managing challenges related peer relationship difficulties. Our Child Psychologists support individuals to develop tsocial and emotional skills to foster healthy peer relationships and better cope with negative encounters.
How Do I Stop My Child From Giving Into Peer Pressure?
As children transition into adolescence, they typically spend more time with peers and less time with their parents and families. These interactions with peers are often unsupervised by adults. While children tend to view friendship as based on shared activities, adolescents increasingly see friendship as involving the sharing of thoughts and emotions. Along with this developmental milestone, peer pressure is a common negative side effect of increased socialization in adolescents. Under negative peer pressure, adolescents may make riskier decisions or engage in problematic behavior which they might not otherwise do alone or in the presence of their family. Children who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to resist being impacted by negative peer pressure. It is important to prepare your child early and strategize solutions on how to avoid the effects of negative socialization. Give your child ideas on what to do if they feel uncomfortable or pressured in a situation such as telling them that “You can always blame me” to get out of a situation.
It is important to remember that peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing. Positive peer pressure can help push your child to do something of benefit. This beneficial aspect of socialization can help to strengthen youth’s academic, behavioral, and social skills.
Why Does My Child Struggle With Making and Keeping Friends?
For all children, the desire to establish secure peer relationships is crucial to their mental health. There are a variety of reasons of why some children experience difficulties when trying to build friendships. In general, children who struggle with making friends fall into three general categories:
1. They tend to be shy and anxious- children who feel uncomfortable expressing themselves socially can experience difficulties when engaging with friends
2. Some children struggle with social difficulties- it’s not that youth don’t want to engage with peers, it’s that they lack the interpersonal skills to do so. In some cases, They might not understand social cues well and act controlling or aggressive, only talking about themselves and not showing interest in others
3. Underlying issues- Social difficulties in children may be a symptom of underlying issues such as ADHD, Anxiety, ASD, or other neurological disorders.