Nowadays children seem to have more distractions and busier than ever before. Therefore, sometimes they will forget how important and fun it’s too have friends. Whether you decide to encourage them by encouraging your kid to play sports or just let them play with your friend’s kids, some can jump right into social situations when others still struggle. And, if your child doesn’t appear to make friends like other children at the same age, they may just need some coaching or practice time on simple social skills. Here are 7 tips to help your child make friends.
Take Time to Observe
Start with checking a few activities of your child while they are at school (or sports other places). Pay close attention to how your child interacts with others. And, make sure that they won’t know that you are there.
At this point, your child may have a tough time starting conversations. Also, it’s normal for kids to have anxiety in large groups or a fear of public speaking. Maybe that is what makes your child have difficulty engaging with other children. Depending on what behavior you see, decide what you should focus on, and come up with a probable method to help. Trust your instincts, because you know your kid best!
Model Positive Social Behavior
In fact, children learn best through examples. So, be mindful of how you interact with others when your kid is close. Whether you are having a conversation with your friends, neighbors, or even a stranger, your child is always aware. And, almost every scenario can become a learning opportunity, allowing your kid to see how you join in, negotiate, and solve problems.
If your kid or preschooler finds it difficult to start conversations during free time at school, try to sit down and practice at home with them. Discuss what topics interest them and that is also what they should talk about with other kids. Try different topics until they find something that comes naturally the most. Also, remember you tell others about your child’s social issues makes them more likely to take an interest. So, they don’t accidentally make it difficult for your kid. Besides, they can even encourage their kids to include your child in activities.
Reinforce and Praise
No matter how difficult it is, you should always make it exciting and rewarding to practice trying new things. Make sure to reinforce their efforts by being positive. Praise your kid even when they fail. Acknowledge each small success, and tell your child how proud you are that they should keep trying.
For smaller children, setting up a playdate with one or more kids is often a good start. If your kid is older, then you can increase the level by inviting their class over for pizza and a movie, especially in the beginning. The goal is to help your child feel comfortable socializing while they are in their comfort zone and make it a positive experience.
Sometimes the direct approach works the best! On top of that, you can try to sign up your kid for a social skills program outside of school or talk with the guidance counselor in your school to form a social skills group.
Don’t Avoid the Problem
Kids tend to avoid or ignore problems rather than facing them. Remember that your child won’t learn to improve relationships by always sitting at home with you. We recommend gradually pushing a shy child slightly beyond their comfort zone, with gentle coaching and encouragement. We know this can be tough and time-consuming at first because your kid might not respond to any of your efforts at all. But, just keep trying slowly step by step and your kid will get used to interacting with others in no time.
Don’t Compare Your Child with Others
Showing that you respect your child’s unique personality and temperament is very important to them. Just because you or their sibling have a lot of friends doesn’t mean your child will too. Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem. Remember that making a few good friends is always better than having many friends but most are casual friendships. As long as they are doing things they want to do and they are happy about it, that’s good.
As your child learns new social skills every day, don’t blast them when they make missteps. Be patient and gently suggest advice. If your child complains that no one likes them, take time and hear them out no matter how busy you are. Then comfort them and maybe encourage by telling how difficult making friends was when you were young. Feel free to share your stories or experience with us and other moms in the comments!