Through their early friendships, children acquire social skills, learn to interact with others, to share and most of all have fun. Some children naturally make lots of friends, but making friends may not be so easy for other children.
It hurts to see your child having trouble making friends; however, you can help your child in many ways in this regard. Of course you can’t make friends for your child, but you can guide them.
Here are some ideas of how you can help:
- Finding common ground
As a start your child needs to find a friend who has similar interests and who enjoys at least few of the things he/she likes. To help your child at this point, drop him/her off to school yourself and try to meet other parents to find potential friends for your child.
- Don’t put too much pressure
Be careful not to be too pushy; take small and easy steps with which your child is comfortable. This will encourage your child around others, without pressuring him/her. Remember that your child is probably already uneasy around other children and any pressure from Mom or Dad can only increase that feeling.
- Planning play dates
Suggest a play date to your child. Plan the play date; prepare some games and activities that your child usually enjoys. Let the children choose the game they wish to play and don’t force anything, just be prepared with suggestions. Keep the date short. Be present, in case the children need to change activities and don’t have ideas. Observe the children as they play, but do not jump to tell them what to do or to sort out a small disagreement. If your child is comfortable with that friend try to arrange another play date.
- Be a playmate yourself
Play with your child and dedicate time just for him/her. You will get to know how he/she plays and better know his/her attitude and interests. It’s important that you try to do what your child finds interesting and enjoyable.
- Visit the teacher
Go to school and talk with your child’s teacher, ask about your child’s behavior outside of home. Ask if your child is facing negative experiences at school which he/she may not have talked about. You may share your thoughts and concerns regarding the matter and let the teacher help your child while he/she’s at school. The teacher may encourage the child to work with a classmate on a project or even change his/her seating to be among a different group of kids.
- Etiquette of greetings
Help your child learn how to greet people. Practice together the etiquette of greeting, making eye contact, smiling, speaking clearly. In time maybe show him/her how to pay simple compliments. This will help him approach others with more confidence.