All Women's Talk

7 Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends ...

By Alison

If you have a shy child, or have just moved to a new neighbourhood, there are ways to help your child make friends. It's often assumed that children make friends naturally, but some find it more difficult than that. Try these useful ways to help your child make friends …

1 Invitations

One of the easiest ways to help your child make friends is to invite people round. Don't wait for birthdays and other holidays; have a small group round to play or watch a movie. You could even have an open house for the neighborhood folks to drop in and introduce themselves (and their kids). The bonus is that you might make some grown-up friends yourself!

2 Be Open

We tend to stick to making friends among people that we see as similar in some ways. But it's very positive for your kids to get to know people who are "different." Be open to introducing him or her to people of different nationalities, religions and social groups. Even the retired couple next door could have grandchildren who often come round to play.

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3 Quality, Not Quantity

Don't worry if your child doesn't seem to have many friends or to make friends easily. Some children aren't keen on being part of a big group anyway. They may be perfectly happy with a few good pals, so don't push them to get to know lots of kids. Help them to make just a few friends instead.

4 Fitting in

I'm not normally one to advocate trying to fit in with a group. But when they're growing up, kids are often left out if they don't fit in with the crowd. It might be helpful to have some awareness of how being part of the crowd may help your child make friends. As time goes by they will start to become aware that sometimes it's better to be yourself, but for now conformity may be the key.

5 Sharing

For younger children especially, sharing may be a good way of making friends. They're easily bribed by goodies! So give your child something that he can share with other kids during their break time. Encourage them to invite other kids to play with their toys at home, or get involved in games.

6 Social Skills

We have to learn social skills; nobody is born knowing how to navigate the social arena. It's hard enough for adults sometimes, so imagine how tough kids can find it. Sometimes they just don't get it right. Are they doing something that is putting other children off, such as being too forceful? Role play can help them to learn more acceptable ways of interaction.

7 Don't Force It

It's pretty upsetting for a parent to see their child apparently isolated and friendless. But don't try to force them to make friends, or drag unwilling kids round to play with them. Being too insistent will put other kids off and make your child seem less fun. Rather than trying to force friendships, try instead to cultivate them.

If you're worried that your child doesn't have friends, try to create opportunities for them. Assuming that there are no issues like bullying or exclusion by other kids, give it time. They will make friends in their own good time. How would you help a shy child to make friends?

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