TEACHING MY CHILD HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS
HELPING CHILDREN TO MAKE FRIENDS
Every parent wants to see their child happy playing with their friends. No parent wants to hear, “I don’t have any friends. No one likes me.” However, that does not always come easily to children. Children develop at different rates, however all children need to develop the skills necessary to make friends and to be a friend. When in social situations observe your child and see how other children react to them.
For example: Does your child always want to be ‘first’? Is your child shy? Is your child bossy? Try to see what behavior is effecting your child ability to make friends.
The following are some of the social skills children need to develop.
IMPORTANT SOCIAL SKILLS CHILDREN NEED TO MAKE FRIENDS:
• Children need to learn how to carry on a conversation.
• Teach your child to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ by always modeling the behavior and by praising your child when they say it.
• Teach your child to look at the person who is speaking to them. Make eye contact with your child and smile often when you are talking to them.
• Give your child conversations starters such as, “Hi, my name is____, can I play with you.”
• Let your child know that they will not always be ‘first’. Good friends take turns and share with their friends.
• Give children opportunities to make decisions. They need to learn that there are consequences to the decisions they make.
For Example: child wants to wear a sweater on a hot day. The consequence is they may be hot and should have made a better decision.
• Talk to your child about the decisions they made and what the consequences would have been had they made a different decision.
• When child makes a good decision, let them know you it.
• Help them look at decisions from different perspectives.
• Let children know we all make mistakes. Acknowledge when you make a mistake.
• Encourage child with games and activities that strengthen problem solving skills, such as puzzles, projects, and books.
• Model cooperation skills. Show the child how this benefits everyone who is cooperating.
• Learning to make friends requires your child to learn how to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
• Learning to identify feeling and putting a name to the feeling is essential for your child to learn empathy.
• Talk to your child about how they are feeling and talk about how they think the other child may be feeling.
For Example: Your child calls another child a name. The other child is crying. Help your child learn to identify how the other child is feeling.
• Praise your child when they share, or say something nice to another child.
• When reading books to your child talk about how the characters are feeling. Ask what made them feel this way?
When teaching your child social skills it is important that you as a parent model the behavior for the child. Children copy what they see, so make opportunities to model good social behaviors.
For example: Sharing- point out occasions when you are sharing with your child. Point out occasions when you see another child sharing, and praise your child when they share
Create opportunities for your child to be with other children. Invite children to your home for play dates, look for group activities such as sports, play groups, dance class, or other extra-curricular activities. Never criticize your child, especially in front of other children, but be open and supportive. The social skills your child learns now will have an impact on their ability to make friends throughout their lives.