red-flags for pre-schoolers

Social Skills “Red-Flags” for Preschoolers

Is your child on pace, lagging a little or in danger? Below are a few red flags that indicate your preschooler may be struggling with social skills and need additional help.

As children move from toddler to preschooler age, most seem to naturally develop social skills. They learn to play cooperatively with their peers, listen to instructions and each other, take change in stride, and begin to figure out how to appropriately display their emotions.

Some children at this age may progress more slowly. Perhaps, they struggle to play with their peers, fear being away from their parents, or display bizarre behaviors. For these children, getting professional assistance early may be the key to helping them build the healthy social skills they will need to navigate life.

He/She consistently plays alone.

As children move into their preschool years, they start to see the importance and fun of playing with their peers. They begin to understand the concept of sharing and taking turns, though they may not always want to. Some children will even initiate playing with their peers, while others may be a bit shy and need a few minutes to warm up before finally joining in.

If your child almost always plays by himself, seems to struggle to make friends or join in with others, and refuses to share, there is reason for concern. These are all red flags that he is lacking one or more social skills. If a child constantly plays on their own and rejects group activities, he or she misses out on vital social interaction that is necessary for further development of their social skills.

He/She clings to you.

It’s expected that your infant or toddler will turn to you for everything, but as they move into preschool age, they should begin to spread their wings. Generally, most preschoolers more readily accept greater independence than their parents are prepared to give. Sometimes, because parents are not ready to see their babies grow up, they may overlook this red flag.

Please know if your child has serious difficulties separating from you there is cause for concern. It’s one thing for a child to be shy and need a few minutes to warm up before they begin to engage with others. It’s another if they continue to physically cling to you, hide behind you, and refuse to go play, particularly when you encourage you him to do so.

He/She often seems unaware.

Perhaps he/she doesn’t understand simple facial expressions, or they just don’t affect him. For example, when preschoolers see someone cry, they often want to know what’s wrong and try to offer comfort. If your child doesn’t seem aware of the importance of showing empathy, it could be a sign that his social skills are lacking, especially if he does not show any type of emotional response. (Research shows that even newborns can show basic empathy.)

His unawareness may also extend to how his body awareness can affect his relationship with others. For instance, does he tend to invade others personal space or even touch them to the point it makes others uncomfortable? This along with an unawareness of the need to make eye contact or properly greet people, are signs of potential social skills problems.

He/She is overwhelming to others.

All children share information that they shouldn’t but does your child do so even after you’ve corrected him? Do they monopolize the conversation or constantly interrupts and talk over others? Do other children or even adults withdraw from your child because of this behavior? These are signs that your child is overwhelming. As parents we may tend to be protective of our children and place the blame elsewhere. We may reason that others just don’t understand our child. However, this tendency to be overbearing is often a sign of poor social skills.

If your child displays some of these “red flag” behaviors, it’s important to know that help is available. In fact, early intervention, which is offered by the professionals at The Social Skills Center, provides the best opportunity for him or her to learn and retain essential social skills. We would love to help your child develop the crucial social skills he needs to live a life filled with success and happiness.

[1] http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/articles/features/empathy-and-kindness-early-developmental-milestones.

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