Hardly anyone will debate the fact that kids need friends. Even shy children will benefit from forming relationships with their peers at their own pace. But sometimes, kids need some help taking the first step or learning how to relate to others their own age. How can you, as the parent, help your child make friends at school?
The answer depends on your child. While some kids are natural social butterflies, others may struggle with their conversational skills or handling themselves in social situations. The best way to help your child is to meet them where they are and help them get to where they should be to have healthy friendships. Here’s how you can get started.
Meet Them Where They Are
Kids are unique, and consequently, will develop their own unique socialization style and method of relating to others. Unless you notice concerning or problematic behavior, don’t push your child to adopt a “proper” type of social interaction. Let them experiment as they find out how they’re comfortable relating to others and encourage them on that route.
Additionally, remember that your child learns more from you than you realize. As they try to learn socialization skills, they’re watching you to see how you handle social situations. Model healthy relationships and positive socialization for them to see and imitate.
Offer Positive Reinforcement
Encourage each baby step toward developing social interaction and making friends! Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Sometimes this requires a little intervention from you–for instance, if you notice your child seems to be spending a lot of time with a particular classmate, take the initiative to set up a playdate and help them get to know each other better. Alternatively, if your child takes the first step in developing a friendship, encourage them and show them how proud you are of them for trying. Support them as they learn to relate to their peers and classmates.
Pro Tip: Role-playing some common social scenarios at home may help your kids practice their conversational skills. See if it helps your shy child make new friends at school.
Don’t Put Pressure on Your Child
Energetic, socially active children may have siblings who are quiet and reserved. Alternatively, maybe your child’s socialization style is drastically different from yours. It can be tempting to encourage a struggling child to just “take the plunge” or to try to act more like a more sociable person they know. Don’t fall into either trap! Forcing your child into a situation they don’t want to be in is likely to backfire, and trying to pressure them to act more like someone else sends a message that a more reserved nature is wrong. Let your child learn and develop their social skills at a healthy pace.
Teach Your Child How to Make Friends
Friendships don’t come easily to everyone, least of all shy children just learning about the world. But with a little help and positive reinforcement from you, they can begin to develop the social skills they need. Continue supporting your child as they learn how to make and keep good friends.
Connect with us to learn more about helping your children develop their social skills.