praising your kid for doing something “normal” people do and outright acknowledging it as something abnormal for them (“you finally came out of your cave upstairs!” “you finally put some nice clothes on!”) has a very real chance of making them feel like their normal is below average and looked down upon
tldr don’t say shit like “oh, youre talking to us, this is new”
(tone since sometimes i’m bad at portraying it - i agree completely with OP)
the key thing here is that those phrases are inherently disrespectful to what could be quite a big personal achievement for that person. framing their usual behaviour as “the room you find comforting is actually a gross cave” or “the clothes you usually choose to wear are nasty”
it’s also usually done in front of other family members, sometimes even in front of guests and strangers, which means someone who might not have known about their socially unacceptable habits now does so. it’s humiliating. that makes it even harder for your kid to want to meet new people, because they know every time they do, you’ll humiliate them in front of them.
if you know your kid is struggling with things like talking to people or wearing fancy clothes, but that they have told you that they actually want to do those things, then you can privately (so it’s not like you’re making a spectacle of them) praise them for it with phrases like this:
- "i know you struggle to come downstairs sometimes when we have guests, so i’m really proud of you for managing it this time"
- "i know you said you want to dress up in posh clothes more often, so i’m really happy for you that you managed to do it today"
and if you offer them help achieving goals like this, actually help them in the way they say they need. if they say they want help but they’re struggling to come up with ways for you to give it, suggest a few options of things you could do (e.g. telling them ahead of time who’s going to be visiting and when so they can prepare themself, giving them a code phrase so they can get out of social situations without being followed, promising to defend them if anyone gets on them about known sore spots and then actually doing so) and ask them if any of the options is good, or something else. listen to what your child is (and isn’t) telling you.
back. them. up. stand with your child; don’t antagonise them. it’s your job as their parent.
don’t be like my parents where you make fun of your child when they do something by themself, then offer to help them do the thing, get told ways in which you could help… then fail to do so, and later tell them “well we offered to help, i don’t know what else we could have done!”