How to Help Your Child Make Friends And Be A Good Friend
Friendships can be tricky for kids. Here are some great ways to help you child make friends, and be a good friend too!
Whether in school, at clubs, or in the neighborhood, few things cause children more joy and more anguish than their friendships. From making a new best friend to falling out over something silly, but deeply significant to them, kids’ friendships are a BIG deal.
When they have a great relationship and are enjoying time with their best friend, your child will be on top of the world. Full of self-confidence, excitement and happiness. But when friendships go sour, as they often do in the ups and downs of kid life, everyone can end up miserable and in tears.
As an adult these problems can seem insignificant, but to a child they are deeply significant and can impact all aspects of life. As a parent there are things you can do to help your child to make friends and to help them work through any issues that arise.
1. Teach your child to have a listening ear
Everyone needs to talk and to feel like somebody cares about how they feel. Explain to your child that the best way to make friends is to be a good friend, and that means listening and taking the time to find out how their friends are feeling.
The simple social skill of really listening to others will help them make friends now and for the rest of their lives. It will also help them to have deeper and more fulfilling relationships.
Encourage your child to ask questions that draw others out and to continue the conversation. Model how this looks in how you speak to your child and other family members so she sees how conversation can flow naturally. And remind her that it is a two-way process, so true friends will listen to her and be interested in how she feels too.
2. Encourage your children to invite friends to your home
Children are much more at ease in their own homes. And the more relaxed they are, the easier it will be for them to interact with others. If the only time your child sees her friends is at school, she may not be able to establish solid friendships.
Open your home up to her friends and encourage her to invite friends round after school or on the weekend. Making your home a place where her friends welcome will serve you well when she becomes a teenager too.
3. Help your child work through friendship troubles
There will always be times of turmoil in any child’s friendships, from minor fallings out over what to play to more significant and deeply felt upsets. The best course of action to take when this happens is to remain calm yourself. Friendship struggles are perfectly normal, and your child will be fine through this, particularly with your support.
Acknowledge your child’s pain and frustration. Let them talk it out and vent their feelings to you. Then, if the person at fault is your child, talk to her about what she could have done differently so that she will not make the same mistake next time. If an apology is in order, encourage her to apologize as soon as possible.
If the person at fault is the friend, help your child to understand why and what led to the problem. Explain to her that everyone makes mistakes and forgiveness is always the best response.
However, if this particular friend has hurt your child repeatedly, then it may be a good idea to talk this over. And even to encourage your child to become more guarded and cautious around that friend to protect herself, or to move on to new friends.
Friendship issues are inevitable for all children, and they will be different at different ages. But as a parent you can help kids to understand how to be a good friend and what to do when friendship issues do arise. These social skills will also equip your child for a happier, more fulfilling social life in the years to come.