My daughter is in kindergarten. Sometimes, I ask her “Who did you play with today?” One day it was Madison P. The next day it was Leo B. I can’t keep up. However, I’m glad she’s making friends and having a good time at school. For most young children, making friends isn’t too hard. However, as they get older, friendships can become more complicated. Here are some tips to help your young children make friends.
Don’t Force Friends on your Child
Some people like to have a lot of friends. Other people are happy with just a few. According to Mason Turner, MD, chief of psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, “parents oftentimes imprint their socialization, or lack thereof, onto their children.” Thus, if you are concerned that your child isn’t popular enough, don’t be. On the other hand, if you are not very social, don’t prevent your child from inviting kids over or going to birthday parties.
Talk to Your Child About What Friendship Looks Like
Talk to your child about what it means to be a friend. For instance, friends should take part in sharing, caring and helping. A friend should never bully are try to pressure you to do something you don’t want to. Ask your child to add some more qualities of a good friend. Of course, helping your child be empathetic can help them be a good friend too.
Teach your Child Not to Be a Follower
The other day I asked my daughter if she wore her hat at lunch time. She said “no,” because “no one else did.” I told her not to worry about what everyone else did. Teaching your child not to be a follower is important. It can help your child stand up to bullies and any “friend” who tries to pressure him or her.
Give Your Child Opportunities to Make Friends
When my kids were younger, I did a playgroup with them for several years. I also took them to the park several times a week and we played with the neighborhood kids. Furthermore, we invited friends over from preschool. I feel this helped my daughter make friends and build her confidence. Now, my son is doing a toddler class so he can learn to be social with other toddlers. While I don’t think it’s good to have too many extra curricular activities, being involved at church or in a sports league can give your child social opportunities. Of course, unstructured play with kids helps them work out problems on their own. This is especially important if your child is having trouble making friends at school.
What if My Child Can’t Make Friends
Although some parents might want to, you can’t make friends for your child. However, if they are having trouble finding a buddy, you can always be there to listen and, perhaps, get some insight about why they are having problems in the friend department. They may need a confidence booster or just some time to blossom socially.
Children making friends is a part of life. It may not always be rosy but, as a parent, you can always be there from them.
More from Melissa:
Who Me? How to Teach Children to Take Responsibility for Their Actions
Inexpensive Activities for when Your Kids Are Driving You Crazy
Helping Your Child Get the Most Out of Homework