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Helping children make friends isn’t always as easy as you would think. There are many reasons why your child may not want to be social with others at school and you as the parent must take their experiences into consideration before pushing your child to socialize. They may have low self-esteem issues and feel insecure about themselves, they may be shy, or they may have been bullied by another child and do not trust anyone.
Being in a social atmosphere from time to time is extremely healthy for our children and connecting with other kids is necessary for building essential communication skills we all require throughout our lives. We can encourage our children to bond with other children at school, but we shouldn’t push them too hard if they are not ready yet. Let’s discuss some gentle ways that we can help our children make friends and become more social.
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Communication skills start at home. By teaching communication skills to your child at an early age, they will be able to communicate with other kids in the park, play yard, kindergarten and schoolyard. They only need to know a few basics such as sharing, saying “hello” and learning how to ask to play with others. This will get the ball rolling and they will eventually obtain more practice and meet new friends.
Teach Them About Friendship
Explain to your child what a good friend is. Teach them that a good friend looks out for you, asks how you are doing and helps you when you need help. Tell them that a good friend does not boss you around or bully you. Your child also needs to know how to be a loyal friend and how to be kind and share with others. Once they know how to be a good friend to others, they will be also be able to identify what a good friend is when they meet one.
Encourage Them to Be Active
A great way in helping children make friends is to get them into recreational activities such as sports teams, art classes, team building activities and martial arts. After school activities offer more opportunity for friend making and sometimes it can be better if kids meet friends outside of their own school. (They might know more people in high school down the road!)
Teach Them About Diversity
Some children think they must stay in a specific group at school. Encourage your child to reach out and make friends in all groups. Teach them to keep an open mind with regards to making friends of all types. For example, I remember having some friends I played on sports teams with, others I swam with after school and a few others that I took art classes with.
Friends come and go through life, but those few that they meet when they are really young may be a friend for a lifetime.