How to help your child make friends

Published 23 February 2023 at 23:44

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How to help your child make friends

Children are not born with social skills. Parents need to help prepare them to interact successfully with their peers. Making friends is an important part of childhood and can have a big impact on a child's social and emotional development. As a parent, you play a crucial role in helping your child build friendships.

A parent’s love and acceptance for their child help them develop the basic trust and self-confidence necessary to go out and develop bonds with others. Parents are role models, who by their own behaviour, can teach children how to meet people and talk to them, to cooperate with others and to ask for favours, apologise and accept apologies, and how to be patient, respectful, and considerate.

Here are some great tips to help your child make friends:

1) Ample Time/Support

Provide your child with opportunities to spend time with other children. Invite other children to your house to play or let your child participate in clubs, classes or teams. For older children, make your home inviting so that your child would want to invite friends over to play. Be supportive of those friendships. Help your child to organise playdates, or pick up and drop off friends. Providing this support can make your child learn to be more approachable and popular among his/her school friends. It is, in fact, an essential skill if kids can interact with others positively and they will be more self-assured if they can communicate their needs, wants and feelings effectively.

2) Activities/Games

Help your child find opportunities to interact with other children by signing them up for classes, games, sports teams, or other activities that they enjoy. These activities can provide a natural setting for children to form friendships. It is easier to join in and have fun if they know the rules and have the basic skills to become a participant. Games and activities almost always force them to break out of their comfort zone to mix with other children.

Besides attending co-curricular activities in schools, students can also make friends through group studying. At Writers Studio Singapore, experienced teachers hold fun creative writing workshops that engage students through speech and drama, terrarium building and even art and craft. Students are encouraged to work with their peers in small groups, harnessing their creativity while also acquiring social skills.

3) Conversation

As parents, you should spend some time every day talking with your child. This allocated time is not for giving instructions or lecturing, but just talking about the day’s events or things that interest both of you. Talking with your child will not only help you keep up with his/her life, but also let him/her practice holding a conversation. Daily conversation helps foster the bonds between parent and child, as well as prepare the child to interact well with their peers. In the process, you can introduce your child to social etiquette and give them an opportunity to learn from your experience  -  how to make friends wisely, respond to friends with empathy and a range of other well-intended tips.

4) Appropriate behaviour

A child learns social skills in part through family rules about how to treat others. When you need to discipline your child, remember that he or she will imitate your actions. As the saying goes, charity begins at home. Be firm, kind and respectful when you express your expectations of him or her. You probably began to teach your toddler how to share, and how to say please and thank you. As parents, continue coaching your child as she grows older and encounters more social situations. Children who behave appropriately are able to maintain relationships better among their peers.

5) Role-play

Some children may need help learning how to start a conversation, take turns in a group, or deal with conflicts. You can teach these skills through role-play. Help your child learn to understand others’ points of view. For example, when your child tells you about a situation at school, ask how he/she thinks the people felt and why they acted the way they did. Help your child learn to manage negative feelings and solve problems. Being able to manage negative feelings and work out problems are important skills in getting along with others.

6) Go Easy

Fitting in with friends is important to school-age children (and becomes increasingly important as children near adolescence). Recognise how important it is to your child. Your child and his/her friends may do things that seem silly to you. However, if the child’s behaviour is not dangerous or offensive, do not sweat the small stuff. Going ‘easier’ on the child gives them the confidence to explore, make friends, and pursue their passions.
Friendships play a pivotal role in developing self-confidence and social skills and are known to impact academic success. Parents play a crucial role in a child’s social development but they CANNOT make friends for their child. Remember, making friends is a process and it may take some time for your child to find their place. Parental love, patience, and support can provide a foundation to help make this developmental task a success.

This article is written by Carean Oh who has more than 20 years of experience as an educator. She is also a trained teacher and a professional writer. Building success through literacy is her forte and she believes that successful English language students achieve milestones that transcend mediocrity.

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