Children and teenagers are being confronted with obstacles previous generations before them never encountered.

With social media at the forefront in this changing world, it’s important for us to look at some of the challenges children and teens face when it comes to social interactions. Many teens can be found in the same room texting each other. They never look up to make eye contact. Young children use many gadgets at the dinner table glued to their fingertips any chance they can get. I often find clients eager to talk about video games. These young people are more skilled about social media sites than some adults. It concerns me when I learn more and more children as well as teens disconnection socially from relationships but make countless “friends” on social media sites.

Here are 5 ways to help your child or teenager improve their social skills and challenge their social interactions.

  1. For children, I often tell families to have dinner at least once a week and ask each other questions. The TV is turned off and no electronics are allowed at the dinner table. This goes for adults too! As adults and parents, we should also be aware of how our social interactions have declined with our children. When we talk to them with our cell phone never leaving our hand, we send the message social interactions aren’t a priority. We need to practice what we preach!
  2. I also suggest to parents role playing social interactions such as saying hello and greeting someone new be something we teach children early on.
  3. Team sports or extracurricular activities promotes positive peer relationships. It’s a good way for a child or teen to make friends outside of the academic environment.
  4. For teenagers, I encourage parents to have their adolescent order the family meal at a restaurant. Another way is to pay for the groceries at the checkout counters. This helps prepare them to develop social interactions with others, and teach a life skill.
  5. It is important for me to inspire families to enlist their teenager in some type of service activity in the community. Whether  volunteering at a soup kitchen, food bank, or animal shelter.  It’s about creating healthy and positive interactions for adolescents to have. Even elementary aged children can be taught early on about service activities in their community such as donating to Toys for Tots.

No matter how things change in the future, it is still important for children and teenagers to have healthy social interactions with others. Thanks for reading!

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