How to Help Your Child Make Friends

For children, making friends is a vital part of growing up. Even more, it is essential to their social and emotional development.

But their social skills don’t develop automatically. How well they learn to make positive interactions with others depend on a variety of factors, including their relationship with their family.

Research suggests that parents play a key role in helping children make friends. Here are some tips to get started:

Introduce to your child the idea of friendships as soon as possible.

Making friends should not begin in pre-school. Even when your child is still an infant or toddler, you can introduce the idea of friendships by allowing him to interact with other babies. Right in their playmats, children can learn to play, cooperate, share, and mingle with each other – the first step towards teaching them how to become sociable.

Have your own friends come over.

Your children look up to you and they are likely to copy everything you do, especially how you socialize with others. There’s no better way to show them what friendships are like than by introducing them to your own friends. Invite your friends and their children to your home for a dinner perhaps. If your kids are always anxious about dealing with others, the more you want to socialize them with other people until they realize that there’s nothing to be anxious about.

Try not to expect too much.

Seeing your child being outcast from his schoolmates gives you the worst feeling. But don’t panic too much nor force him to interact with other kids. Making friends may not come easy for everyone. Be patient and continue to encourage your child to socialize with his peers.

Teach your child how to converse in a polite way.

Children learn the basics of communication at home. Initially, children are likely to copy how their parents communicate. Make sure that you and your spouse (and the older kids) converse in a polite manner all the time. Encourage your kids to communicate with you too. Ask them about how their day has been, what they’d like to do over the weekend, and so on. The more they communicate, the more they will master this skill.

Coach kids on how to cope with tricky social situations.

Gently coach your children on what to do whenever they find themselves in uncomfortable social situations. You can point out their not-so-good behaviors through simple role-plays and reinforce their good behaviors through praise and recognition.

When possible, let your child try to work things out on his own.

When you do, you’re teaching your child a very useful skill that will help him cultivate healthy relationships as he grows older: confidence. Listen to your child when they fall out with friends and let them decide what to do. Try not to offer suggestions. Let them explore their options and think about the matching consequences first.

Humans are social beings. We can’t live without interacting with others. Thus, building friendships should be one of the very first lessons parents should teach their children. But most parents find it challenging sometimes and are often clueless where to start. With these tips though, you can greatly help your child make friends and become a good friend to others.

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