Everybody needs somebody. Building lasting friendships is an integral part of life, especially at a young age. But the ability to make friends doesn’t come naturally to everyone. As a parent, you can begin to feel helpless when you see your child struggling to form relationships. So what can you do to help your child make friends?
Work together to build their social skills 🗣
The ability to actively listen and engage in conversation is an important part of building friendships and being a good friend. However, if your child struggles with their sense of self-esteem, they may find these skills difficult.
Picking up on social cues, taking turns and allowing others to speak in conversation, asking leading questions and actively listening to the other person’s response, are all important social skills when it comes to building a friendship.
You can practice by role-playing. Show your child how to start conversations and explain what certain body language cues mean. For example, if someone is standing with their arms folded while talking, it could mean that they’re tense, anxious or responding in distress.
Look for opportunities to meet other children in their age group🤸
In an increasingly digitised world, many kids have grown distant with their friends, or lost out on opportunities to make new ones. If this is the case for your child, it may be time to get back out there.
Are there extracurricular activities your little one would enjoy being a part of? Are there children's' events in your town that you could attend together?
If your child is really young, is there a playgroup in your neighborhood? Do you have friends with kids of a similar age who you could introduce them to?
There are opportunities all around, you just need to find the most age appropriate option for your child.
Teach them how to extend invitations 👋
Now, we’re not only talking about birthday party invites, although those are important too. When going to school and partaking in after school activities, your child has countless opportunities to extend invitations. Teach them how to recognise and act on these opportunities.
For example, they could ask a peer to sit with them at lunch, they could lend a hand to a classmate who’s struggling by offering to study together, or if they’re part of a team sport, they can set up an extra practice session with a few team mates.
Get your kid involved! Together you can brainstorm a list of different ways they could extend invitations to other kids.
What about handling rejection? 😔
Rejection is inevitable. Children who lack social skills could easily take a rejection to heart and may even see it as “bullying”. If this happens, remind them that not everyone is meant to be friends, but being friendly regardless is a wonderful personality trait.
Remind them that others may be struggling to make friends too. Their invite could have been rejected for all kinds of reasons. And that’s okay – learning how to say and how to accept a “no” is just as important.
What parents should remember about friendships: 👪
👉 Friendships give children a sense of belonging and being understood by their peers
👉 Friendships build self-esteem and help children develop social skills
👉 You can support and facilitate friendship-building by organising playdates and getting to know your child’s friends as well as their parents
👉 When your child is struggling to build friendship and connections, remind them that they’re loved and sometimes these things just take time
👉 If you’re concerned about your child’s friendships at school, schedule time to talk to their teacher. Together you can work out a plan to help the situation
👉 With friendship comes valuable life lessons like how to deal with conflict, how to share with others and how to tolerate people who are different to you
Is your child finding school difficult because of friendship issues? Is this negatively impacting their ability to stay on top of their school work? A GoStudent tutor may be just what you need. After a few one-on-one lessons, the majority of children show an improvement not only in their school work, but their confidence as well. Get your free trial lesson today. 🚀