Feeling lonely can be distressing for your child. Here are six ways you can help your child build the social skills they need to make friends.
The pandemic has come to teach us that there can be nothing more heartbreaking than the feeling of loneliness. What’s perhaps most distressing for parents is seeing their child go through isolation and not being able to help. 😢
So at GoStudent, we came up with six ways you can help your child build the social skills they need to make meaningful friendships.
What attracts friends for my child? 🤔
👉 Managing Social Behaviour
We usually make friends when we’re articulate about our own selves and can lend an ear to other people’s interests and concerns. So one of the reasons students might be struggling to make friends is because they themselves suffer from social anxiety.
One way to know this is by observing your child’s public behaviour. Do they avoid social interaction with peers? Are they nervous in large groups and struggle to initiate a conversation? 🗣
If you observe signs that indicate your child isn’t comfortable with social interaction, you can accompany them to such events, and facilitate conversation before they’re comfortable to take it forward.
Encouraging students to see a therapist or a counsellor could also help them overcome social anxiety.
👉 Being A Positive Role Model
Children mimic the behaviour of the adults that surround them.
Whether that is family, friends, acquaintances or even strangers on the street, parents need to be mindful about their interaction with others in the presence of their child.
The way you converse, empathise, and react to other adults can become cues for your children to interact with those their age. 🤝
If parents have kind, respectful and meaningful interactions with others, students will model similar behaviour and attract more friends!
👉 Build Self-Esteem
Students can find it difficult to make friends because they don’t think they’re worthy of meaningful friendship. Parents have a huge influence in boosting students’ self-confidence.
One of the most powerful and yet simple ways of doing this is letting your child know they matter :
- Make time to spend with them and engage in their interests.
- Reinforce praise and appreciation for their efforts and small successes.
- Empathise with their worries and struggles.
- Let them know you will solve any harm that comes their way, like helping them fight bullying at school.
Where to make friends as a teenager? 🤔
👉 Practice Conversations
If older kids struggle with making conversations in public, you can help them by practising communication with them in the comfort of your home. ✊
Parents can role-play as friends and allow students to discuss topics that interest them. Consistent practice conversations over a range of topics will help students identify how they like to naturally break the ice when with potential friends!
Another way to practice conversations can be letting teenagers make their own appointments – whether that is the dentist or the salon for a haircut! Conversing with strangers on the phone can build self-confidence for in-person interactions!
👉 Socialise By Personality
By the time students are teenagers, they do have distinct ways in which they prefer to socialise. If your child is talkative and an extrovert, encourage more group interactions for them.
Parents can let them organise a group lunch for their classmates or even call their school club over for pizza!
If your child is an introvert then encourage them to call a classmate or two home for a more intimate interaction.
As parents, suggesting what your child and friend can do during this meet-up –baking or playing cricket – is a good way to help students meaningfully bond with their friends. ❤️
👉 Join School Clubs
Making friends with peers who have similar interests as you is one of the easiest ways for students to strengthen their relationships.
So parents must encourage students to join school clubs and take part in extracurricular activities that appeal to them. If students have niche interests like maths or gardening, parents can talk to the school authority to set up such clubs.
👉 Guide Through Conflicts
Sometimes students find it harder to resolve conflicts with friends. If parents want to help students retain friends they can give them a few cues that might help them solve misunderstandings between their friends.
- Ask students to give thought to their words (are they kind and respectful?) before they speak to their friends after an argument.
- Let them know it’s okay to give space to their friend and themselves for introspection after a fight.
- Encourage them to be communicative and have in-person interactions with their friends when resolving a conflict.
Your child might prefer to have a few meaningful friendships instead of just an array of acquaintances.
It’s very hard on students’ mental health if they feel that their parents don’t see their social skills as good enough for making friends.
So let your child make friends their way, as long as they feel happy and secure. Another (surprising!) way for students to cultivate meaningful friendships is by becoming popular amongst peers.