How To Start To Handle A Child Who Does Not “Socialize” Well

(This is an excerpt from Steps eighth Parent/Teacher/Tutor course. This course is about socialization in the homeschool environment. This course will be released in early March. Some or all of the following ideas may seem obvious to you, but to many parent’s who may not have considered them, they’re important.)

(PLEASE NOTE – I’m not a doctor. I’ve done a fair amount of research and successfully raised two children. If you have any issues, questions, or concerns about any of the following information, please feel free to do your own research and/or consult with a doctor you trust.)


Glib – Without real depth or thought.

Stimulant – Something that temporarily quickens the functions of the body in some way.

Addictive – The state created by anything which, once used, increasingly becomes harder to quit.

Caffeine – A chemical substance which when consumed acts as a stimulant. Caffeine is addictive, and is found in (among other foods) coffee, many teas, colas and chocolate.

Sugar Rush – A temporary condition caused by the ingestion of sugar in which a person experiences an energy “high”, followed rather rapidly by a crash in energy and a type of exhaustion.


In determining whether or not a child is “getting along” well with others, there can be many factors. Some of those factors are self-evident, others are less easily exposed. The following is a sort of “checklist”, a tool you can use to help determine “other” factors than the child’s innate behavior, which might alter his or her ability to “get along” well with others.

I have, as a teacher, seen MANY situations where each of these factors was an issue. I have seen these factors addressed and handled, and seen a child do a 180 degree turn, becoming far more comfortable with others. You may feel (and rightfully so) that you’ve looked into the factors already, or a percentage of them. If so, fine, but things change! And hardly anything can change faster than a child and their life.

This is a lesson plan addressed to the parent with a child who may be problematic in terms of their ability to control themselves and get along with others. I seriously suggest that if that is your situation, that you take your time and make your way down this list in a comprehensive manner. A glib approach to this will not suffice. Please take these in order as much as it is possible to do so. You’ll need to work closely with the student, and their parents, to effectively do this. Some of this may require the assistance of a medical doctor.

Please note that the following IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. These are simply things I’ve seen work. You may know of many others. If there is a medical condition, or you discover or suspect that there may be one that requires address, see a doctor.


– Check for sleep first. Get answers to the following:

When does the student go to bed? When do they get up? How well does the student actually sleep during that time? Is he awakened often, and if so, why? Are there things going on that wake the student that can be addressed.

Additionally, does the student have difficulty going to sleep? Does he have a hard time waking in the morning? Should he be napping during the day? Can he nap during the day?

If there is any difficulty, find out what the student does the hour or two before bedtime. What do they eat? What do they do with their time and attention?


First, you must understand that sleep is essential for a child’s well-being and even their sanity to some extent. This is serious business!

If a child sleeps well, and enough, and seems well-rested and alert generally, then you would want to move on to the next potential difficulty.

If a child is not getting to sleep easily, check for the following factors:

-The bed itself. Is it comfortable FOR THE STUDENT? Really find out. If not, fix it in a manner to the student’s liking.

-Light. Some people cannot sleep with any light. Others need some light. Again, this is a worthy experiment.

-Temperature. Some people sleep best in a room that is warm. Others can’t stand it, and need the room cooler. This is a worthy experiment, and a simple fix. Set the room to be whatever temperature that the student finds the most restful. This may change from time to time as the weather changes.

-Smells. Strong (and even subtle) smells can certainly keep a person awake. Cigarette smells, musty blankets or a musty room, old food smells, you name it, can keep a person awake. Even such smells as detergents with perfumes, or a shampoo or soap that the child uses and that leaves a distracting or noticeable odor, should probably be eliminated entirely. (This includes sprays intended to eliminate odors, as they have odors of their own.)

-Noise. And remember, just because a noise does not bother you does not mean that it won’t bother someone else. As an experiment, sit in the child’s bedroom or the area in which they sleep, and be very quiet for at least an hour. Listen. And also ask the child what THEY hear at night. Find out – and then address the noise by eliminating it. If it’s you making noise, STOP IT.

-Consuming of caffeine within four hours of bedtime, including colas and other soft drinks, chocolate, coffee or teas that are caffeinated. And be aware that all “decaffeinated” drinks actually DO have some caffeine still in them. Caffeine will definitely keep a person awake, and also encourages excretion
many hours after drinking it, which can certainly wake a child.

– Video games, TV, the Internet. While it is true that a person whose work is completed should have the right to entertain themselves, a child does NOT have have the right to destroy their health or education. I personally believe that video games are evil, a word I try not to use often. They are certainly built to be addictive. I know that when my own son played them, he could not sleep for hours afterwards. Cut these off at a reasonable time, at least two hours before bedtime if the child is demonstrating any difficulty sleeping. Make a deal with the child, but be firm. None of this after that cut-off, no matter what! Replace it with reading, by reading to the child, or having them read to themselves.

– Diet. Does your child eat a lot of sugar and junk food, especially in the late afternoon or evening? Sugar is an artificial stimulant that creates the parents worst nightmare, a “sugar rush”, and then as sugar levels drop in the body, can create a sleepless lull, even a depression. If sleep (or even overemotional states at night) seem to be a problem, then try taking away sugar and junk food. DO NOT OFFER THEM AS A REWARD IN WAY OF “MAKING A DEAL”, as in “you can have them on the weekends if your grades are good”. Junk food and sugar are not rewards, and they diminish the overall health of the child. What’s more, with the remarkable wave of overweight and obese people (over 60% in the United States at this time!!), you really aren’t doing the student a favor making junk food and sugar a reward. But you could be letting them in for a life of dependency, emotional chaos, and severe health issues! At the very least, if sleep is an issue, cut off the junk food and sugar at least 4 hours before bed.

Often if a child craves sugar, their body may need vitamin C. Try giving them some C (with as little sugar in it as possible) around 3-4 hours before bed. Do NOT do it near bedtime, as C can keep them up. However, too much C can cause diarrhea, so go kind of easy.

Some people rest better taking a small amount of B1 vitamin just before bed. It seems to be able to help mitigate dreaming and nightmares, as well.

Some people rest better drinking or taking calcium/magnesium, or Calmag, around 1 hour before bed. It can be worth a try.

Warm milk may work for some people (who are not lactose intolerant, among other things.) Cookies are out, don’t do it.

-Exercise! A person getting little or no exercise can have problems with rest and sleep. Earlier courses discussed P.E. options for homeschoolers. A child with a sleep problem, if sufficiently healthy to be determined by a doctor) could benefit
from at least a 20 minute exercise session per day.

Yes, this is a number of things to test out, all related to sleep. But sleep is CRITICAL to your student’s health and well-being, and is worth this sort of investment if you have ANY concerns at all about the student’s sleep!

By the way, for years, I read to my children each night, sometimes for as long as an hour, and as they got older, I read more difficult books like Lord of the Rings. They pretty much always slept well.

As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

For parents who wish to teach at home, but are intimidated at the thought, and for parents who just wish to improve the homeschool experience, we offer a ten course homeschool program for homeschool teachers, as well as several books about education and homeschooling today.

We want you and your children to win with homeschooling!

11 comments for “How To Start To Handle A Child Who Does Not “Socialize” Well

  1. Sharon Eikenaar
    June 4, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I have a very active 8yr old son, I struggle not to get him to sleep at night, but, to get him to settle when it is time for home school. He doesn’t have ADD or ADHD he is just very active. This often gets us into arguments and makes it unpleasant. What ideas do you have. Should I just let him learn through play or what?

    Confused newly homeschooling mom

    • June 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Hi Sharon,

      I think you might want to start by doing a few things:

      1) Let him decide when he will put in his school time each day. You can require 4 hours, or whatever your state requires, but it does not need to be 9-1 or something like that. He may be better off running around in the morning and studying after lunch, or in the late afternoon. We’re all different in this regard, find out what works best for him by consulting him.

      2) What subjects would he really like to study? What interests him right now. (It’s likely to change.) If you could focus for a while, even several months, on subjects that interest him, you might be able to establish a “habit of study”. He will be more willing, I suspect, to work this way for a while. And this means totally setting aside subjects that bore or disinterest him right now, until a later day. I know that may seem to run counter to the state’s requirements – but they do not know or care for your son.

      3) Consider the methods you’re using. Some kids HATE to write or type, others like it or don’t mind it. If he hates it, take his answers down verbally, perhaps even write them out as he speaks, or record them if you need proof for the state that he’s doing his work. And whether to write or not is just one small part of the method used to teach. Do you issue a lot of corrections of his writings, his spelling, even his ideas? If so, even if intended to be educative and helpful, this can really turn a kid off from study in a big way. Try to avoid any critique-oriented approach for a while. That means no grades, no tests, no helpful comments. I’ve seen this approach alone, when changed, make all the difference with many children.

      4) Allow your son to have a say in where he studies. Make a game out of it if possible. Outdoors today, in the bedroom tomorrow. Let him even have a hand in designing his study space so it “belongs to him”. Pride of ownership in his own study space may encourage him to want to be in that space longer.

      5) Consider his diet. NO SUGAR is a good starts, and that also means no fruit juices and the like, not on study days. Stay away from MSG, it can have create strange behavior. You’ll find it in many chips, frozen and processed foods, and on a lot of fast food. A smart dietary change can also make a huge difference. While we’re at it, I know of too many children who fit your description who are addicted to video games. Throw those away, or if you must, restrict their use to non-study days, and then for a very limited amount of time. They are nothing but bad news.

      6) Have you had his eyes and hearing checked out? Many children don’t even know they have an issue with these, and it can dramatically limit their ability or willingness to study.

      These are all ideas on how to start handling the situation. If you have more specific ideas, you can always write me at

      Steven Horwich

      • July 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

        I like your tips, Steven! I’d also like to add that children who crave sugar may suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). When their blood sugar drops, look out! They tend to act cranky and tired and cannot focus. The symptoms mimic ADD/ADHD, so take note. These kids need healthy meals and snacks, no processed sugar, and extra protein. They also may have some vitamin deficiencies caused by a poor diet. Check my website for more info. Exercise and playing music also help blow off steam.

  2. November 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I have a child with LD’s, Aspergers, Sensory issues. For the most part, I’ve had to ask myself — what does she actually need in life. Handwriting is a task that she can do, but hates. IT actually hurts her hand. She might have some dysgraphia or something, but we aren’t sure. We know she will type, so we have her do that. She CAN write her name if she has to, or other things, but she prefers to type. What is wrong with this? Nothing. Also, she can’t remember facts very well. But if we have a CD or a song to help her remember, this works amazingly. We found this out and were amazed at how fast she learned. She couldn’t remember math facts using Times Tales, but she could remember them with a song. This was after all her therapists told me how “visual” she was. I always knew in my head she was auditory. So I have used that to my advantage on many occasions. This isn’t to say she doesn’t like visuals. In fact, visuals will help her tremendously when figuring out math problems which she hates, but as a memory tool, the songs work better. We did try to go gluten free and that failed miserably. I’m actually off of gluten for my own health issues and I’m seeing differences in just myself. I am hoping my family will get back on because my husband wasn’t keen on it at all. My daughter has melt downs when I force her into new situations. she’s come a long way, but its still very difficult for us to put her into things or have her meet new friends. I wish I had a simple fix for it, but I don’t.

    • November 8, 2012 at 10:34 pm

      Yes, well, generally I have a low opinion of “therapists” and “experts” when it comes to our children, anyway. In my experience, the parent very often (not always, but VERY often) knows their child. And as to melting down when confronted with something new, I know a lot of adults who suffer from that little difficulty. Keep up the good work!

  3. November 7, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I’d also like to add, get your kids tested for Vit D deficiencies. It’s pretty common and if your child is tired all the time, it might be why.

  4. sanjap
    June 8, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I have a 4 year old, he is very, very shy, he does not go to daycare, and he stays with me or my parents house on the weekends, he loves his grandpa, basically he is arround the adults all the time, he has a younger brother which is 2 years old, and my older son is very shy and very attached to me and my husband, he only wants to play with the other kids if we are there, if i had to leave him he crys and keep saying i love when you are there, and he will only socialize with the other kids if we are there, he is an active little boy and very smart, but how can i get him to socialize with the kids, at least so he can say hi to them,
    the kids that he knows he is fine with it, but the new kids that
    he never met before he has struggle to get to know them,
    please help

    • June 8, 2013 at 8:30 am


      Well, as I said, I’m no doctor. I’ve taught many hundreds of children, and raised two of my own, so anything I have to offer in this regard is experience-oriented. I’ve seen shy four year-olds before, many, who all on their own and given time blossomed into socially adept and active children and adults.

      I really think that, as a rule, parents often stress out on stuff that handles itself with time. I think what you’re doing right now is okay. Four is VERY young, way too young to worry over such things, as a rule. And as you say, your child is bright, so trust him a bit. Be with him if he requires your company at this time when he plays with others, and just provide lots of opportunities for that to happen. It is pretty likely from what I’ve seen that at some point, he will make a friend or two and then he wont WANT you around when they play. Enjoy the fact that he wants you around now, while it lasts.

      I was not very different from him, by the way. I had my own interests and preferred to do those things than “socializing,” as a rule. But then, I discovered baseball (around age 7), and started playing on the street with neighbors. At age 9 I started doing lots of theater, a very social thing to do as it is entirely a group activity. You might GRADUALLY introduce him to such things, activities that are group oriented. But I sure would never force anything on a child that age.

  5. SB
    April 26, 2015 at 2:35 am

    I am definitely a damaged product of both the Catholic, public and even community college school and upgrading continuing ed system. I truly learned next to nil, ended up with little to no proper study habits, negative horizontal peer socialization. I am also seeing the similar effect on the kids within an afterschool program that I currently serve/assist in. I also would like to strongly suggest homeschooling when on of my siblings will marry and have children. I know it is too late for me, even if I were to restudy some high school subject in order to go back to post-secondary, but hopefully the kids I know won’t go through the same ordeal.

    • April 26, 2015 at 8:02 am

      I understand, and I believe your story is not uncommon. That said, it is up to each of us to get educated, and that does not end with school. It is NOT too late to re-study! In writing nover 300 courses for Steps for study for all ages, I was forced to re-study (or ACTUALLY study) many subjects, some for the first time, starting at age 46. I’m reading Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization now, the best (and longest) world history I know of. You write well, you are obviously literate and capable of learning NOW. And that’s one way to put a poor education behind you.

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