Helping your child to make friends
A healthy social life is a cornerstone of a happy childhood. Here we look at a few ways you can help your little one blossom socially.
With children going back to school, one of the biggest worries most parents have is whether or not their precious little ones will struggle to make friends. There’s lots of pressure on kids these days to excel in school, make the sports team and have a thriving network of friends. It’s no wonder they feel a bit daunted when setting out. There are plenty of ways that you can help prepare your child for the social aspect of school, hopefully enabling them to comfortably connect with others.
Learn how your child socialises
When looking to help your child to make friends, the best place to start is to try to gain an understanding of how they currently socialise. When you see them engaging with others, try to figure out what their approach is. Do they struggle to initiate conversation or do they go quiet when part of a large group? Once you have a feeling of what parts they find hardest, you’ll be better equipped to help them progress.
Practise at home
With the main problem area in mind (for example, starting a conversation), you can sit down with your child at home and practise this exact thing. Take turns initiating conversation and try to cover a variety of topics. This will teach your little one to not be afraid of taking the lead or introducing a new subject into the discussion.
Set the standard
Parents are key role models for their children and this extends to social behaviour. If you can display positive social behaviours in front of your little ones, they’re likely to try to replicate this. Bear this in mind throughout your day as you engage with various people, from family and friends, to people working in shops or even strangers. Act how you would like your child to act and they will soon learn this behaviour from you.
Lay the foundations
Arranging get-togethers with family friends who have children of a similar age to yours, or play-dates between your little one and a few others, are fantastic ways to help your child break the ice. With these, you can take the edge off the fear your little one may have of striking up a conversation with a child they don’t yet know.
Offer positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is fundamental in helping your child to develop socially. As they step outside their comfort zone, encourage them and praise their efforts – even when things don’t go perfectly. Make room for a debrief after they try to connect with another child and discuss what went well and how to make things go even better next time!
Some little ones find socialising very difficult, especially when faced with more extroverted children with already established friend groups. However, by learning about how your child behaves socially, by setting a good example for them and by coaching them through the process, your little one will feel like they have the skills and support to meet new people and develop lasting friendships.