Friendship is important, and as adults, we know that having a network of friends to support and encourage you can make life much easier.
Kids need friends too, but sometimes, it can take them a while to find others that they really connect with.
If your child struggles to make friends, or simply isn’t that outgoing or doesn’t take the initiative, they might need a bit of help from you. Don’t worry. There’s so much you can do to help your child gain the skills they need to make friends, and even to help them find kids they enjoy hanging out with.
1. Figure Your Kid Out
All kids think about friendship differently, so don’t make the mistake of assuming that your child’s idea about friendship is the same as yours. Take some time to figure out your child’s ‘style’ of friendship, and anticipate that your child will relate to people in a different way to you. For example, just because you enjoy spending time in a large group of friends, doesn’t mean your child won’t prefer more one-on-one interaction.
2. Teach Basic ‘Friendship’ Skills
Kids don’t emerge into the world of socialising and friendship in a fully formed way. It’s your job as a parent to teach them the skills they’ll need to get along with other kids in a positive way. Some of these start young, like teaching to share and be friendly with their peers. Other skills come later, such as learning to be a good conversationalist, to introduce yourself confidently, and to offer friendship.
3. Encourage New Activities
If your child tends to do the same things in the same places all the time, they’re not likely to meet too many new people. So, if your child hasn’t really found a group of friends yet, or they want to extend their network, it’s time to think outside the box. Get them involved in a different activity, particularly something they’re really passionate about. They’re more likely to meet similar minds there.
4. Help Them Work Through Issues
Issues crop up in any friendship, and adults know better than anyone how quickly a neglected friendship can fall apart. For kids, friendships fall apart often because things get blown out of proportion by child minds. Arguments don’t herald the end of a friendship, and teaching that they do only makes things harder for your child later. Instead, help them to work through issues they have with their friends, and see their friendships emerge stronger.