How to help your child make new friends
There is a time when your children can’t get enough of their friends, and you have to drag them back in the house.
But there can also be times when your child does not have many or any worthy friends and are struggling to make new ones.
Well, there are certain ways in which you can encourage them to meet new kids and develop beautiful friendships.
Having friends is not just for fun, friendship can improve a child’s communication skills, creativity, knowledge, and other good qualities like empathy, caring and sharing.
Although some children are naturally social, shyness can be a barrier for other kids in developing friendships, but it’s “one of the things we can really help children overcome,” says Gail Gross, Ph.D., a psychologist and child development expert in Houston, Texas.
There’s no need to turn your child into a social butterfly, but helping him feel more socially confident? Absolutely possible, Dr. Gross says.
Teach your child the skills that will help him become more confident and comfortable making friends.
Reasons your child could be struggling to make friends
If you have moved to a different city or a different house, or your child had to change schools, they could struggle with the change and discomfort of starting over. However, with your support, you can help them gel in with the new place and people.
Some kids could struggle in making new friends because of being too shy or nervous. This can inhibit them from initiating conversations with new people.
Some kids have social difficulties wherein they may not be good at communicating or reading social cues properly. With some help, they too can make great friends.
Try these tips and activities for improving your child’s confidence, comfort and excitement to make friends.
1. Start with small steps
If your child is already feeling uncomfortable or underconfident, pushing them to “go and talk” may not help. Instead, slowly glide them into social situations which are closer to their comfort levels. So, instead of taking them to a crowded birthday party where they hardly know anyone, maybe you can take them to the nearby park and get them to interact with the kids playing there.
2. Playing games can help bond
Almost every kid loves to play games. Depending on your child’s interest, you can help them find a friend with similar interests. If they enjoy cycling, help them find a cycling buddy – you’ll surely find some kids cycling in the evening in a nearby park.
If they like cricket, introduce them to the kids who play cricket everyday. Basically a great way to start – whether in neighbourhood or school – is to find someone with similar interests as yours. If your kid likes craft or jewellery making, they can have a playdate at home by inviting a kid from school or the neighbourhood who is also interested in similar activities.
3. Helping someone can build friendship
Kindness goes a long way in making a place for yourselves in people’s hearts. Teach your child to help others in need – it could be as simple as lending an extra pencil to the child sitting in front of them who forgot their pencil box at home. It could be by calling their friend to check on their health as they missed school today. If loving and caring can come easily to your kid, they’ll have a bunch of friends in no time.
4. Model friendly behaviour and let your kid follow
Parents play a huge role in modelling their children’s behaviour. If you don’t go out for an evening walk with your friends or hangout with them for dinner or anything else, your kid pay pick up on your lack of social life.
If your kid is awkward at starting conversations with new neighbours, you take a plunge and you’ll see your child will soon join in. Appreciate them whenever they pick on positive behaviour, this will encourage them to repeat it.