We were nervous this weekend, but we decided to give it a try. Michael’s Dad and I not only took him to the Montreal International Jazz Festival, but we also took in two other local Family Fairs, and, wait for it, we did it without friends which I knew would be a challenge. In previous years, Michael has done well because he had friends with him to help him from getting bored or distract him from being overwhelmed. This year we bit the bullet though, and due to circumstance and wanting to try something new, we took him alone. And guess what? We had success. It was a good weekend when we were at these events. Sure there were moments when he had some behaviors, but Dad handled them beautifully as did I. Michael for his part knew what was expected of him.
If your child is not so confident socially and they get overwhelmed in bigger environments, here are 6 great ways we found to help conquer social fears in these cases.
6 Great Ways to Help Exceptional Kids Conquer Their Social Fears:
- Keep headphones on you: He hardly uses them anymore, but just in case, we bring them along to help with noise absorption.
- Look at pictures of environment and show videos to prepare child: We did this in the past to help prepare Michael for a louder, busier environment. The visual stayed with him and helped him prepare for the day better.
- Have your child help in packing for day: This worked great for us as Michael enjoyed packing his bag full of spare clothes, fidget toys and snacks.
- Showcase day as a chance for family bonding if no friend with you: If your child is alone, (no other family is available to come with you), talk about it being an opportunity to meet new people and/or spend time with you and your partner. Be positive all the time.
- Have an out strategy where there are no hard feelings: This is super important. If your child has tried to have fun to no avail, don’t penalize them. You tried, they tried, but it wasn’t a good fit. Tell them that.
- Show them pictures of things you did as a child or tell stories: Depending on your child’s verbal comprehension and speech, you can try and either show pictures and talk or tell them what new things you did and how you overcame fears. You’ll be surprised how many your child can understand and grasp from your words, attitude and tone of voice as well as the visuals.
Whatever you decided to do, don’t ever eliminate trying something at least once if it’s something important to you and your family. Go with your family’s interest, time and enjoyment of activities. Your child will pick up on that above all else.
Exceptional Parents, what have been some of your successes in having a fun family day out and conquering your child’s (and your) social fears for them? How have you encouraged them to try new things and did you remember to praise them for trying even if there was a problem? The important thing is to start slow. Try shorter outings earlier in the day and then gradually increase the time you stay at events as a family. Always look to your child as your cue for when they have had enough. Good luck and remember you know them best. Until next time.