5 ways social challenges can play out at recess

For some kids, recess is the highlight of the day. It’s a chance to play and have fun with friends — a piece of cake compared to the rest of the school day. But for kids who struggle socially, it can be tough to navigate.

Here are five ways social challenges can play out during recess.

1. Being excluded

How it might look: A group of kids starts a game of tag, but they don’t ask your child to join.

Why it might happen: There are lots of reasons kids don’t get invited to join. Maybe the other kids are a tight group of friends. Games require following directions, and your child may have trouble knowing what to do. If your child has a meltdown after losing a game, other kids might stop inviting your kid to play.

2. Getting teased

How it might look: Your child stares at another child at recess. And then your child gets teased for it.

Why it might happen: Some kids have trouble understanding social cues. And when kids miss these cues, they can misunderstand people and situations. They can also be easy targets for playground bullies.

3. Feeling isolated

How it might look: Your child isn’t sure what to do during recess. So your child ends up playing alone.

Why it might happen: Recess is mostly free time, where there’s little direction on what to do. Kids who aren’t confident in groups may go it alone rather than risk reaching out to other kids.

4. Becoming overstimulated

How it might look: Your child is riled up during a game and runs too fast, then falls down and gets hurt.

Why it might happen: Because of all the noise and action, kids who are hyperactive can get revved up during recess. They may not take a moment to pause and calm down.

5. Avoiding conversation with others

How it might look: Your child wants to play kickball with other kids but doesn’t know how to ask.

Why it might happen: Some kids have trouble with language skills or may have low self-esteem. Both can make it hard to start conversations or join in.

Looking to help your child feel more comfortable during recess? Find ways to help your child handle teasing on the playground. Learn about how to help kids who get overexcited.


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