My boyfriend was a quiet kid who played video games all the time with a very high IQ. He did very well in school, but found it hard to form social relationships. He never dated until he was 31. I asked him if he enjoyed his childhood and he said he wished his parents had forced him to do more things. His words. I think he meant to say that he wished they had pushed him out of his comfort zone so he would learn to interact with people to assuage his anxiety and increase his speaking abilities. However, if they had attempted this when he was 12, I’m sure he would’ve resisted and hated them for forcing him to do things he did not want to do, but future him would’ve benefited from this and future him regrets this. These are the usually the kids who have the most to offer because they possess such high intellects and imaginations from being so introverted, but they are deathly afraid of people because no one teaches them how to talk to others. If we can get this segment of society to adjust, they will be able to offer so much more to the world because they will have the tools to navigate it.
I myself did not understand the importance of interacting with my peers until I was 24 or 25. Unlike my boyfriend, I didn’t see this as a disadvantage, but something that I could just improve on. Yes, you missed out on some stuff, but don’t continue to sulk about things to come. Firstly, you have to explain why you are forcing them to having social skills so they understand. I told myself that if I wanted to get anywhere, I’d have to learn how to talk to people and be more willing to show others who I was. Then, I put myself out there and failed. And when I failed, I learned to pick myself up and laugh at myself. When I could laugh at myself, I found I was just like everyone else. More often than not, kids think they are some anomaly and only they are that weird, but when they find that even the cool kids are scared of asking someone out, they’ll see that they are really not that different. The only thing that separates them from those kids is confidence: the ability to pick yourself up after you fall down.
There is no school for social skills. It’s something kids have to learn on their own and some need more help than others. Let them know that it is only for their benefit that they are forced into extracurriculars and social situations. The only way to gain knowledge is to experience it and failure is how we learn. Most of the time, these individuals fear failure. They don’t want to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing, so they never say or do anything and let opportunities slip away. They fear turning themselves into a laughing stock, and this fear prevents them from going after what they want. Ultimately, it comes down to accepting who they are, but kids don’t know that. They just know they want to get friends and possibly ask their crush out. If we actually taught social skills, I think we as a society would be so much more productive, happy, and fulfilled. And for those who are older, don’t think about all the years you lost, because that may be about 30 years, but think of what you have left to live, which could be 50. It’s never too late to change.