How to help your kid make new friends, according to a behavioral specialist
A little bit of support and encouragement will make it easier for them.
Starting school can be a daunting time for children. There's so much to take in, so many new people to meet, and a lot to wrap your head around.
The new setting alone can overwhelm you so even thinking about making friends can send your head into a spin.
Fortunately, there is plenty of advice out there to help your child make friends in school.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "making friends is one of the most important missions of middle childhood—a social skill that will endure throughout their lives."
Pediatric behavioral health specialist Kristen Eastman, PsyD told the Cleveland Clinic that children who struggle to make friends may just need a little encouragement and advice.
Comparing your child to others will only diminish their self-esteem. It's important to remember that not every child is the same so comparing your child to others will only make them feel like an outsider and thus causing them to feel even more socially awkward.
Dr. Eastman said: “As long as they’re doing things they want to do and are happy and well-adjusted, that’s good.”
Introducing your child to different social clubs and events will help them find a comfort zone for making friends. School may not be the easiest place for shyer children to make friends so why not try the local reading group at the library or ballet class? This will give them a better chance to make friends outside of one social bubble.
Take the Reins
Your child might simply need a little bit of encouragement so why not reach out to another parent and organise a play date, especially if your child has just started school. Taking small steps like this will help give them the confidence to talk to other children in their class.
Making friends may be intimidating but it's also an extremely exciting time. The way you talk about it will help your child view it in a more positive way. Celebrating it and praising them will help shift their perspective if they're nervous at all.
Practice Makes Perfect
If your child struggles with approaching others then simply practice these conversations at home. Why not help them come up with ways to start conversations and encourage them to talk about topics they're confident about whether that's their favourite movie or hobby.
It's important to remind your child that quality is always more important than quantity. Having a small group of good friends is always far better than a huge group that doesn't really care about you.