A guide to helping your child make friends

Shailesh Nanal | Dreamstime.com

Shailesh Nanal | Dreamstime.com

When a child has to leave behind existing friends, whether due to shifting neighborhoods or starting a new school, she or he will need to start over and make friends. This can be daunting for children of any age, and parents may need to help out. Here are a few ways that parents can ease the transition and help their children make friends.

One of the primary ways to ensure your child is socially adept is to set a good example for them. Showing them and others you interact with respect and kindness teaches children to follow in your footsteps and makes them naturally likable to other children.

If your child is in a new and unknown environment, you may need to nudge them into participating in social activities and seeking out friendship. A good way to get the ball rolling is to meeting other parents from your child’s class who seem aligned to your parenting goals, or who you would enjoy getting to know, and organising play dates with them and their child.

Kids bond over activities together, so spending time outdoors in child-friendly spaces like a playground is also a great way for them to interact with other kids. They learn to share play equipment and talk to and observe children their own age. See if your child wants to join neighbourhood games, such as football or jump-rope. You may need to make an introduction or two to some of the other kids. Enrolling your child in group activity classes like dance or swimming can also expose them to even more children their age and encourage them to be more outgoing. Getting enough physical activity will also improve your child’s mood and health.

Another great way to promote friendships is to allow your children to call their friends over once in a while for fun activates such as a party, board games, a movie or a sleepover. Organise some kid-friendly snacks and let them spend time together focused on an activity, which can take the pressure off having to actively make conversation while still letting them socialise and talk about the task at hand.

Finally, remember that your son or daughter may not be as outgoing as you are and it’s important to respect their individuality by not pressuring them into being friends with anyone. While some children prefer to have many friends, others are happy with just a handful. Introverted children especially need time to form friendships, so don’t get too worried if they take a while and be encouraging of any social behavior they display.

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