Making friends can be an arduous task for anyone. Children learn to socialize at an early age; from Mommy and Me classes, to playing at the park, to your child’s preschool class – socialization is inevitable. So how do we help our children make this awkward rite of passage a success, or at the very least bearable? For one, Monday, February 11th is National Make a Friend Day – see if your local
community or school is doing anything to celebrate. In my classroom we are reading The Crayon Box That Talked and then making friendship bracelets
after. For more practice at home, here are a few ways that may help your child to become the social butterfly of the class.
- Assess: The first thing you need to do is to figure out what kind of socialization your child is most comfortable with. If your child has no problem interacting with a whole class environment, art classes, sports teams and other group related activities might be a fun and easy way for your child to meet new friends. If your child is more comfortable with a more intimate setting, try to set up play dates with one of the children who your child is always talking about.
- Set Good Examples: Emphasize the many pros to having friends. Use your friends as examples. Enforce sharing, compassion, and good listening skills as often as possible and talk about how these qualities are important to creating and keeping friendships.
- Don’t push: Many times you might encounter a child that you find to be “perfect” for your child. You set up a play date, and they just don’t click. As discouraged as you might feel, do not push this friendship on your child. You tried, it didn’t work, try to move on and help your child find a different playmate.
- Accept: You know your child; you know their likes, dislikes, quirks, and fads they follow. Embrace them and try to help your child find friends with similar qualities. If your child loves to tinker with building blocks, see if your local store has a building block event they can sign up for. A local cooking store also has a kids cooking event once a month. If your child likes to cook, this might be another way to meet a new friend. Supporting your child’s likes and dislikes is also a big confidence boost, which brings me to my last tip.
- Instill Confidence: Teach your child to believe in themselves. Your child needs to understand that they have so much to offer others. Making friends can be difficult at times so help them realize that it can be a bumpy road, but to not get discouraged.
Check out “What’s on Our Bookshelf” for books to read with your child to help them understand the value of friendship.