Parents play a big role in teaching children how to make friends. Parents influence and shape their kids’ personalities and can have a big impact on the way they make friends and maintain relationships. Children pick up all sorts of social cues from their parents.
Friendship is a vital childhood passage. Kids find out how to share, cooperate, and work with their friends. Yet it is difficult for parents to watch the ups and downs of their child’s friendships.
“Friendships are very important when it comes to emotional health,” says Julia Cook, author of the book “Making Friends Is an ART!” and a former teacher and school counselor. “To a child, even having just one good friend can make a huge difference” adds Julia Cook.
While for some children it is easy to make friends, others may need a tad more encouragement. “Some people tend to think it just comes naturally, and for some [children] it does, but for many, it doesn’t,” observes Stacey Brown, a counselor from Fort Myers, Florida.
Here’s how you can teach your child to keep their negative impulses in check and nurture their positive traits in order to have fulfilling future relationships.
1) Teach them control
In order to keep friendships stable, children need to learn to exercise control over their negative impulses – such as reluctance to share or the urge to use physical force. Sometimes, they also show aggressive behaviour. Research has shown that children learn better emotional restraint when they are able to communicate their negative feelings to their parents in a sympathetic and productive way. Teach your child how to manage his anger so he can calm himself down when he’s upset. Take your child’s feelings seriously and don’t belittle them.
2) Show warmth
Children are less likely to make friends if their parents aren’t warm towards them and are very authoritative. Excessive controlling parents can damage a child’s ability to be accepted socially. Children who are not heard out or corrected compassionately and punished strictly for wrongdoings could grow up to display similar levels of aggressiveness and hostility.
3) Encourage conversation skills
Converse with your children to help them master the art of conversation. Don’t just talk ‘to’ your kids but actively engage them in discussions. This will make them more confident about talking to other children at school.
4) Teach them to be good listeners
Being confident enough to speak your mind isn’t the only prerequisite to being socially adept. Being well-liked requires you to learn to listen to other peoples’ opinions and thoughts as well. Teach your kids the importance of paying attention to what others are saying, giving others a chance to speak, and how to respond appropriately during a conversation.
5) Keep track of their social lives
Plan play dates with other children to help you understand your child’s social behaviour. As far as possible, let your children work out their social issues on their own when with peers. Give them pointers before and/or after their meetings to help them in the future. And watch out for negative behaviour such as bullying – this is a time when adult intervention is required.
Children will be nurtured socially as they progress through school. Parental love and guidance play a big role in shaping up the children’s future and their journey towards meaningful friendship.
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